Prenatal vitamins: Why the fuss?

All Woman

ALL mothers look forward to having a healthy infant. But a mother's nutrition during pregnancy is very important to the development of the foetus and its health and well-being. Nutrition starts with you — the mother.

Even with a well-balanced diet, pregnant mothers require some kind of supplementation of vitamins and minerals for adequate nutrition. Pregnant mothers are encouraged to take daily prenatal vitamins that contain a variety of healthy nutrients. There are numerous prenatal vitamins on the market, and the majority of them are quite good. However, when searching for prenatal vitamins, mothers should ensure that they contain the following:

Folic acid

This synthetic form of folate is found in prenatal vitamins and grains. It is essential for the development of the neurological system and is ideal during the first trimester. The recommended dose is 400 micrograms per day and 5mg per day for high-risk women — women older than 35 years or those who have had a child with a neural tube defect. Most prenatal vitamins have a dose of 800 micrograms.

Iron

Iron is essential for the transportation of oxygen throughout the body and to the foetus via the placenta. Iron levels tend to fall naturally during the course of a pregnancy. The recommended dose is 27 mg per day. Iron can lead to constipation, but this can be treated with stool softeners.

Calcium

A dose of 250 mg is recommended for the development of the foetus's bones. It also decreases the mother's chances of developing osteoporosis.

Vitamin D

This vitamin works together with calcium for the development of healthy bone growth of the foetus. The recommended dose is 200-400 IU per day.

Vitamin B6

The recommended dose is 2mg per day.

Vitamin C

Although most women consume a lot of orange juice, it's still recommended that pregnant women get at least 50 mg of Vitamin C for the development of foetal bones and also to strengthen the mother's immune system.

Copper

Two mg per day is the recommended dose for the development of the foetal heart, red blood cells and bones.

Zinc

Fifteen mg per day is required for cell development and the immune system.

DHA

Docosahexaenoic acid is an Omega 3 fatty acid. It is not found in most prenatal vitamins. Pregnant mothers should find prenatal vitamins that contain DHA. This helps with neuro-development of the foetus. The recommended dose is 200 mg per day.

Mothers-to-be are advised to avoid excess Vitamin A as this can be detrimental to the foetus.

Dr Daryl Daley is a cosmetic gynaecologist and consultant OBGYN at Gynae Associates, 23 Tangerine Place, Kingston 10, and shops 46-50, Portmore Town Centre. He can be reached at 929-5038/9, 939-2859, 799-0588 or drdaryldaley@gmail.com.

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