All pregnant women are advised to take prenatal vitamins, but are they important to helping build a healthy pregnancy, or are they really optional extra intended to boost the profits of the drug companies?
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The truth is that prenatal vitamins are important to every pregnant woman. Even those who are healthy and eat a well balanced and varied diet benefit from taking prenatal vitamins because eating the quantities required of some vitamins isn't likely in most diets. This is especially true of folic acid, which can help prevent such conditions as spina bifa, should be started at least one month before trying to conceive a child if at all possible, and continued right through the first trimester. Folic acid can be found in such food products as broccoli, but to eat enough leafy greens to give the required dosage would mean not being able to eat other products giving other essential nutrition.
Taking prenatal vitamins are meant to be a supplement to normal food however. They are not intended to take the place of a well balanced diet. Usually they complement the normal vitamin intake; however, you need to read the contents of the pills so that you don't overdose on some vitamins such as vitamin A which could cause birth defects! Talk to your medical provider about the specific brand of prenatal vitamins you are taking and ask about any vitamins that you need to monitor your intake of. You also need to ensure that they have sufficient amounts of each required vitamin so that you get enough, some vitamins such as calcium are often under the required amount and so you need to know to increase your dietary intake of these vitamins.
If you suffer from morning sickness or constipation, it could be that the first brand of prenatal vitamins you take aggravates these symptoms and you need to temporarily switch to a brand which has a lower percentage of iron for the first trimester when the morning sickness is usually at its worst, with a view to switching back during the second trimester.
Prenatal vitamins do not have to be prescribed; the ones you can buy over-the-counter can be just as good if not better (as long as they are prenatal and not just multi-vitamins). However, if you buy across the counter, speak to the pharmacist at the drug store about the percentages of vitamins and minerals the pills contain. You can also ask your medical provider to confirm that they are ok by taking the box and information sheet on the brand to your next visit.