Prenatal Vitamins

Topic: Everything You Need to Know About Prenatal Vitamins

While most health and nutrition experts think taking a multivitamin is a waste of time and money for the majority of people, one important exception is women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

A healthy diet is still important for both mother and baby’s health and development, of course. But diet alone doesn’t always provide enough of certain nutrients that a successful pregnancy requires. Taking a vitamin specifically tailored to the needs of pregnancy, under a doctor’s supervision, is almost always a good idea.

“The goal is to balance getting enough nutrients to support the growth of your fetus and maintaining a healthy weight,” says Dr. Mazen Fouany, an OB-GYN with White Plains Hospital Physician Associates in White Plains, New York.

Why Is Diet Sometimes Not Enough?

Pregnancy is a period of intense fetal growth and development, as well as maternal physiological change. “Adequate intake of macronutrients and micronutrients during pregnancy promotes these processes, while undernutrition and overnutrition can be associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Therefore, it is important to evaluate, monitor and, when appropriate, make changes to improve maternal nutrition both before and during pregnancy,” Fouany says.

Women who routinely eat three meals daily that include several servings of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and protein likely meet the Daily Recommended Intakes for most nutrients, Fouany says. “However, even nutrient-dense food choices and diets, such as those in the United States Department of Agriculture food patterns, may not meet nutrient goals for iron, vitamin D and choline during pregnancy. If you’re pregnant or hoping to conceive, prenatal vitamins can help fill any gaps.”

For example, the typical diet has about 100 micrograms of iodine. “We recommend 220 during pregnancy, so it’s very tricky to get double the amount in diet,” says Dr. Scott Sullivan, an OB-GYN specializing in maternal-fetal medicine and an associate professor at the University of South Carolina. Additionally, common pregnancy issues like nausea, heartburn and lack of appetite can get in the way. “Women aren’t eating three giant meals a day because they don’t feel like it,” he says. “They need consistency across all nine months of pregnancy,” which is where vitamins can help.

Topic Discussed: Everything You Need to Know About Prenatal Vitamins

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