Despite a woman’s best efforts, circumstances such as location, seasonal variability, and time constraints may conspire to make it difficult for her to ingest the complete range of necessary ingredients from a well-balanced diet alone. For these women, a comprehensive prenatal supplement is highly recommended to ensure her own and her baby’s health. Supplements containing the following ingredients provide a wide range of benefits:
Folic Acid. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all women of childbearing age consume at least 400mcg per day to reduce the occurrence of serious brain and spinal cord birth defects. There are also possible links between folic acid and cardiovascular defects, limb-reduction defects, cleft palate, Down syndrome, and low birth weight.
Vitamin A. Particularly good for both the growing baby and the mother. Helps in the development of healthy teeth, bones, skin, eyes, and mucous membranes, and helps fight infection and repair damaged tissue. Essential for normal cellular differentiation and in regulating organ development in the fetus. For the mother, it contributes to a healthy reproductive cycle and replaces vitamin A that is lost during breastfeeding.
Vitamin C. Helps the mother by assisting wound healing, preventing fatigue, and fighting infection. Some evidence suggests that the antioxidant activity of vitamin C can help avoid pre-eclampsia (a hypertensive disorder of pregnancy). For the developing baby, vitamin C assists in the formation of collagen and strong cell walls and blood vessels.
Vitamin D. Has a major impact on fetal bone development by promoting calcium absorption from the digestive tract and then assisting calcium and phosphorous to form bones. A deficiency during pregnancy can lead to poor skeletal development.
Vitamin E. An antioxidant that assists in the healthy growth and maintenance of the placenta during pregnancy. It also assists in many facets of the developing fetus, including the circulatory, neurological, and respiratory systems. Very low birth weights and premature births have been linked to vitamin E deficiency.
Vitamin K. Helps to prevent problems with blood clotting.
Vitamin B-1 (Thiamin), Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B-3 (Niacin). These related vitamins help the body digest carbohydrate, fat, and protein, thus releasing energy to the cells. This is important for pregnant women because it enables them to deal with the higher calorific intake required by the growing fetus. These vitamins also regulate appetite and digestion and assist in maintaining a healthy nervous system.
Vitamin B-5. Essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. Also supports the adrenal gland, which secretes hormones that regulate metabolism.
Vitamin B-6. Performs many functions, including the processing of carbohydrates and fats, the metabolizing of protein, assisting the formation of DNA and hemoglobin, and keeping skin healthy. The extra protein required by pregnant women should be accompanied by higher levels of B-6.
Vitamin B-12. Assists in proper nerve and brain function in both mother and baby.
Biotin. Important for fetal development and cellular function and growth. This vitamin, one of the B-complex group, has several different roles to play and is essential for carbohydrate metabolism and the synthesis of proteins. It is not produced by the body, therefore, the fetus is dependent upon the maternal supply. Research indicates that biotin levels may drop during pregnancy, hence an increased need for supplementation.
Calcium. Important to both mother and baby. Studies have linked inadequate calcium levels in pregnancy to osteoporosis in later life for the mother. Calcium levels have also been linked with pre-ecla