Never Underestimate the Value of a High Quality Prenatal Supplement
Fetal development is a fascinating, almost magical, process that requires optimal nutrition during the entire term. In less than 12 weeks, fingers and toes start to form, as well as the brain and spinal cord. At six months, the fetus’s eyes begin to open and it’s possible to determine the sex of the baby via an ultrasound. During the last week of pregnancy, the fetus can gain as much as ½ pound per week in preparation for the big event. Yes, there is a lot going on as the baby grows.
It is now widely accepted that it’s nearly impossible for a pregnant woman to get all of the nutrition that she and her baby need from diet alone.
Here are just a few of the increased nutritional demands that take place during pregnancy:
- Protein is critical to the growth of the fetus, in particular the brain.
- Folic acid plays an important role in reducing the risk of neural tube defects in the child.
- Iron increases blood flow and oxygen supplied to both mother and child.
- Calcium and magnesium contribute to healthy bone growth.
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is essential for the growth and development of the baby’s brain and retina.
- Vitamin D helps regulate cytokine metabolism and immune system modulation in the growing fetus.
- Choline contributes to several critical roles associated with cell division, nervous system development and other physiologic processes that take place during pregnancy.
- Vitamins C, A, and E, as well as zinc, iodine, and copper are all important for both the mother and her unborn baby.
When looking for a prenatal multivitamin supplement to recommend, it’s important to focus on the following:
- Comprehensive: the formula should contain a variety of nutrients especially nutrients like folic acid, iron, DHA, and choline.
- High-quality: choose a manufacturer you trust who has a high degree of focus on quality procedures and practices.
- Attention to detail: the sources of the specific nutrients should be listed, as well as enough of each of the ingredients to truly make a difference.
- Free of potential allergens: wheat, soy, gluten, egg, yeast, and other potential harmful ingredients should be avoided.
Because pregnancy can be so nutritionally demanding, the best time to start taking a high-quality prenatal multivitamin formula is before conception. The Mayo Clinic and other prestigious organizations recommend that women of reproductive age begin taking a prenatal vitamin regularly. After all, the baby’s neural tube, which eventually becomes the baby’s brain and spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy. This development could be taking place even before the woman knows she’s pregnant. There is no doubt that the value of a high-quality prenatal formula cannot be over emphasized. It’s an important time for both mother and child.
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Rogers LK, Valentine CJ, Keim SA. DHA supplementation: current implications in pregnancy and childhood. Pharmacol Res. 2013;70(1):13-19.