We all know that eating well is key to a baby’s development. But as many expecting mum’s will discover, simply eating well is not enough to ensure your baby gets all the essential vitamins it needs for optimal foetal growth. This is where prenatal vitamins come in, and where the confusion for many mums-to-be begins.
Whilst it may seem confusing to start, the science behind prenatal vitamins is quite simple (simple enough to fit in one blog post!). So here it is - everything you need to know about prenatal vitamins.
Why experts recommend prenatal vitamins
For many, the idea of taking additional supplements or prenatal vitamins doesn't make sense (or appears to be a money grab). Simply put, whilst women can grow and support a healthy bub without vitamins, they are highly recommended as there are some deficiencies in a modern day diet that our ancestors did not have. For example, despite those mums-to-be with the most fantastic diets in the world, our soil is not as nutrient rich anymore, resulting in less nutrient-dense crops. Another example of modern-day factors impacting a woman’s nutrition is medication like the contraceptive pill, which; whilst is completely safe, can deplete folate, a key nutrient needed to prevent birth defects. Babies do have the ability to extract nutrients from their mums when its not directly being fed to them, but those mechanisms will only make mumma further nutritionally depleted post pregnancy. Therefore, for both your sake and your babies, prenatal vitamins are a must!
How prenatal vitamins support you and your baby
So, you now understand why experts recommend prenatal vitamins. But what vitamins are necessary to ensure both you and your baby are getting the nutrients they need?
According to Sydney’s Leading Women's Health & Fertility Nutritionist Stefanie Valakas, there are 8 keys vitamins and minerals that best support your growing bub - some of which will require you to ingest via a supplement or prenatal vitamin, and others that can be ingested through smarter food choices. These key prenatal vitamins are:
Folate / folic acid: is essential for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida. Whilst this can be found in foods like bread and cereals, its best to ingest this via a prenatal vitamin that contains activated folate (labelled as L-methylfolate or follinic acid).
Iodine: is responsible for preventing cretinism in your baby and can be found naturally in seafood and iodised salt. Due to the importance of this mineral, its best to ingest at least 150 micrograms of this in a prenatal vitamin taken daily.