How to Choose the Best Prenatal Vitamins
Pregnancy is a time of great change, both for the developing baby as well as the expecting mother. Prenatal care guidelines usually include a recommendation for a high-quality prenatal vitamin—an important consideration due to the vital nature of child development. The saying “She’s eating for two” could not ring truer during this transformative period, and the best prenatal vitamin is of utmost importance for both mother and developing child.
Poor nutrition during pregnancy can lead to a child being born prone to high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and obesity—all of which can lead to worse health issues as the child gets older. This is why an expecting mother should take great care when choosing prenatal vitamins. Your decision-making process should go beyond simple criteria such as brand recognition or product popularity when choosing what's best for you and your baby.
When choosing the best prenatal vitamin, it is recommended that expecting mothers consider the origin of ingredients, shortcomings of their own diet, and the overall content of a particular supplement.
Changes During Pregnancy
It is known that women experience many physical changes during the span of her pregnancy. Women often experience swollen ankles, rapid nail growth, but also less obvious changes such as increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, and decreased blood pressure. Constipation may also be present during this period.
These changes in particular, as well as the increased physical burden of carrying a child. This is where a high-quality and preferably natural and organic prenatal multivitamin can support you and alleviate the symptoms.
Not only can prenatal vitamins assist in the managing of the effects of unbalanced hormones and rapid weight gain, they can also aid in alleviating morning sickness, help maintain the mother’s bone density, while ensuring the healthy development of her baby’s bones, and aid in the overall health of mother and baby.
Our Modern Diet Vs a Healthy Diet
Some may consider the best prenatal vitamin to be a well-rounded and nutritious diet which, to a large degree, is true--assuming the diet comes from whole, natural and preferably organic foods.
However, even with careful food choices, vital nutritional elements may still be missing from our modern diet. This is due to fruits and vegetables being harvested when unripe, fruits, vegetables and meats being stored for long periods, soil depletion, hybridization, and modern farming practices.
For instance, it has been shown that levels of iron—a highly critical mineral during pregnancy--in vegetables have gone down as much as 37% in the past 4 decades. Iron is important not just for general women’s health, but even more so for pregnant women, as they are not only producing red blood cells for themselves, but for a developing baby as well. Since red blood cells transport oxygen around the body, this may leave the mother with iron deficiency anemia, which can lead to feeling tired and fatigued and can also lead to an undersized baby or premature birth.
Other levels of key vitamins and minerals have also shown a steep decline in our modern food supply, with various studies all pointing to a14%-37% drop of most key nutrients in vegetables over the past 50-years. Consequently, choosing organic over conventional growing methods becomes vital, as synthetic fertilisers and pesticides not only deplete soil of nutrients, but they are also linked to cancers and birth defects.
It's worth knowing that synthetic fertilisers may also be made from petroleum and ammonia, both of which are associated with serious health problems in addition to harming the environment.
When Should a Prenatal Vitamin Regimen Begin?
Ideally, women planning to become pregnant should begin a prenatal vitamin regimen three-months prior to attempting to become pregnant, which is when an egg matures before it is released. It is crucial that high levels of vital nutrients such as folic acid and iron are present during this period. Low levels of folic acid can greatly increase the risk of neural tube defects in the fetus, which can greatly harm and endanger the health of a new child.
One of the most serious neural tube defects, resulting from low levels of folic acid is spina bifida, or “split spine”—a condition in which vertebrae do not form properly around the spinal cord. Spina bifida is a permanently disabling birth defect, and in its worst form—spina bifida cystica—the spinal cord and nerves can come through open parts of the spine. Since spina bifida cystica prevents the fluids which protect the brain and spinal cord from properly draining, fluids can build up in the brain and lead to the development of an enlarged head, and possibly brain damage in the child. It is therefore of crucial importance that the recommended 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid be taken in the 3-months prior to conception.
The vital organs of the embryo will also require important nutrients in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, and it is strongly recommended that the best organic prenatal vitamin available is considered during this time. Overal, high levels of vitamins and minerals built up in the mother’s body will decrease chances of low birth weight, premature birth and other problems associated with poor nutrition.
The Importance of Minerals During Pregnancy
The best prenatal vitamins contain high values of key vitamins as well as additional minerals. As previously mentioned, the importance of iron caemphasisedphasized enough. It is strongly recommended that expectant mothers supplement their diet with 27 mg of iron per day.
The baby also needs to develop healthy bones, metabolism, and energy generation—minerals play a crucial role in these essential systems and processes
For instance, a calcium deficiency in the expecting mother’s diet can not only slow the growth of bones in the baby, but can also result in osteoporosis later in her life.
Iodine also plays an important role in the body’s energy production, oxygen consumption, metabolism and tissue development. Despite this, iodine is commonly overlooked in vitamin supplements, and low levels of it can lead to a host of alarming conditions, including dwarfism, deafness, impaired cognitive development and miscarriage.
A prenatal diet deficient in zinc can lead to high blood pressure and urinary protein concentrations during pregnancy, as well as premature birth, low birth weight, and other complications associated with premature birth. Zinc is also important in the development of a healthy immune system, and aids in bone, skin and hair growth.
Minerals often work in synergy with one another, such as magnesium helping to regulate the function of calcium and potassium.
In other words, without adequate amounts of magnesium in the body, calcium alone will not produce healthy bones in a developing baby, or help with bone density in the mother.
Potassium absorption is also of key importance, as potassium benefits electrolytes in the body’s cells, as well as helping muscles contract. It should also be noted that due to the body’s blood volume expanding by as much as 50% during pregnancy, additional potassium should be added to the diet during this time.
Healthy levels of trace minerals can be every bit as significant as healthy levels of vitamins, and should not be overlooked by expecting mothers.
What Else to Look For in a Prenatal Vitamin
When choosing the best prenatal multivitamin supplement, go beyond vitamin and mineral content.
For instance, just as with our diet, it is important to look for prenatal vitamins derived from whole, organic food sources. This will not only enable better nutritional absorbency by leaving synergistic food compounds available in their natural state, but also reduce the possibility of birth complications stemming from the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and petroleum-based compounds that are often found in conventionally grown foods.
Other beneficial ingredients to look for in the best prenatal vitamins can include:
- Red Raspberry Leaf Extract – Believed to strengthen the uterine muscles in preparation for childbirth, studies have shown consumption of raspberry leaf extract during pregnancy to lower instances of birth intervention. Red raspberry is also a rich source of antioxidants, B-vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, iron and calcium, and can help regulate healthy menstrual cycles while lowering blood pressure and regulating blood sugar.
- Ginger Rhizome Extract – Ginger is known to assist digestion, as well as to ease the symptoms of morning sickness. Ginger may also help reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and is also thought to promote healthy skin and hair.
- Black Raspberry – Considered by some to be a “super food,” black raspberry is an excellent source ellagic acid, which has been clinically researched for its benefits in regulating healthy cell growth. Ellagenic acid may also help in providing a strong response to inflammation, making it an invaluable addition to prenatal care.
- Sour Cherry – Research shows the naturally occurring melatonin in sour cherry can help promote deep and restful sleep—the importance of which is immeasurable for expecting mothers. Loaded with strong antioxidants, sour cherry helps in maintaining a healthy inflammatory response, including relief from swollen joints and feet. Sour cherry also contains Gallic acid, p-coumaric acid, kaempferol, and quercetin, all of which aid in reducing the muscle soreness and painful joints often experienced by expecting mothers due to the additional weight they need to carry.
All of these beneficial ingredients can be found in a high-quality, all natural and organic prenatal vitamin, such as Synergy Company Pure Natal Vitamins.
A Quick Summary: Choose the Best Prenatal Vitamins
No time is more critical in a woman’s life than pregnancy, and a woman’s health needs go far beyond typical dietary requirements during this period. Not only does an expecting mother experience life-changing alteration in her physical being, she also has to consider the healthy development of her unborn child.
By choosing the best prenatal vitamin and beginning a daily regimen including vitamin supplements as well as whole, organic and healthy foods, expecting mothers can greatly reduce the likelihood of complications associated with pregnancy, including:
- Lower IQ in newborns.
- Increased risk of diabetes for developing children.
- Increase risk of miscarriage during birth.
- Risk of dwarfism and enlarged head in newborn children.
- Risk of spina bifida.
- Increased risk of childhood and adult obesity.
These are but a few of the many potential complications stemming from poor nutrition during the prenatal period, making it highly critical for expecting mothers to opt for a top-quality prenatal vitamin. By ensuring satisfactory levels of such key vitamins and minerals as folic acid and iron in the mother’s system beginning three months prior to conception, new mothers stand a far greater chance of providing their newborn with stellar health, as well as a long and healthy life for both mother and child.
By choosing vitamins produced from whole, organic foods, as well as including other ingredients such as raspberry leaf extract and sour cherry, new mothers can be provided with further assurance that pregnancy, childbirth and child growth will remain healthy and natural.