The Best Pregnancy Vitamins - It's often said that pregnancy is a time of amazing transition. A woman's body that once supported a single human being now must sustain two. A microscopic bundle of cells matures into a full-sized baby. During this wondrous time of pregnancy, the mother's blood vessels, body chemistry, hormonal balances, uterine lining, and even solid tissues go through transitions that can be supported by the best pregnancy vitamins.
No one will be surprised to learn that most expectant mothers seek out the best nutrition and the best pregnancy vitamins. Women have used herbs and foods to support pregnancy, birth, and breast-feeding since the beginning of historical time. Here are a few choices that appropriate for any mother and baby.
Nearly seventy five years of clinical evidence leaves no doubt that folic acid (folate) supplements prevent neural tube defects and other defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate. Folic acid is a B vitamin. It is found in a wide range of foods in very small amounts, and it is added to many bread and grain products. The embryo needs this leader of the best pregnancy vitamins during the first 45 days after conception to grow a normal brain and spinal cord.
The problem is, folic acid deficiencies can't be corrected in a single dose of this important pregnancy vitamin. If a woman is deficient in this folic acid it's possible she won't know she's pregnant before the embryo already needs folic acid for normal growth.
This is the reason folic acid is the pregnancy vitamin any woman who can become pregnant should take every day. A recommended dose is 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) a day before pregnancy and 800 micrograms a day during pregnancy. If you are a woman and you have any plans ever to have a baby, think folic acid now.
Unlike folic acid, vitamin B6 is seldom deficient in expecting mothers. Supplementation with vitamin B6, however, can help prevent morning sickness. Vitamin B6 supplements are helpful for women experiencing gestational diabetes. They lower blood sugars by lowering the hypersensitivity reactions that underlie the disease.
Taking supplemental vitamin C in doses of up to 2,000 mg a day to stop a cold is fine. Just beware stomach upset and diarrhea if you take a very large dose. Expectant mothers generally don't need more than 1,000 mg of vitamin C a day.
Iodine is also a critical nutrient even before conception. In an age of iodized salt, iodine supplements are very rare, but they can cause a dreadful form of retardation known as cretinism. Iodine is not usually necessary to maintain healthy thyroid function during pregnancy, although the fat-soluble vitamin D is.
The main use of vitamin D as a pregnancy vitamin, of course, is for making healthy bones. Women who live in northerly latitudes or who never get exposure to sun are at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Healthy bones in both mother and child require adequate calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D.
Scientists at the Medical College of the University of South Carolina writing in the May 2004 edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition report that relatively high doses of supplemental vitamin D, up to 1000 IU a day, may be needed for bone health in pregnant women and nursing mothers who are unable to spend time in the sun. If you can't get sun, consider taking a low dose of vitamin D, no more than 400 IU per day after your first trimester. Observant Muslim mothers are especially likely to benefit from additional vitamin D.
The other fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K are rarely deficient and can't be considered pregnancy vitamins, but shortages can lead to serious symptoms. Vitamin A in doses of more than 5000 IU a day should be avoided in early pregnancy, but low-dose vitamin A supplementation after the first trimester helps the baby avoid parasites and viral infections later.
Vitamin E deficiencies can lead to tearing of the placenta. As little as 100 IU of mixed-tocopherol formula can help prevent this problem.
Vitamin K deficiency is also rare, unless the mother is taking a blood-thinning agent such as Coumadin. It's very difficult to take too much E or K, but it's not necessary to take a megadose (more than 20 times the RDA), either.
Getting enough calcium does more during pregnancy than helping make healthy bones. Calcium may reduce pregnancy-related hypertension and a dangerous complication called pre-eclampsia. Supplemental calcium is safe even in large doses, up to 2500 mg a day.
Calcium works with B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc to help the fetus mature to a healthy birth weight. Shortages of calcium, magnesium, and zinc are most likely to occur in the final trimester. It's best to start taking supplemental calcium, magnesium, and zinc in the 19th week.
Iron is important for healthy red blood cells. As the fetus grows, it develops its own blood supply. The creation of new red blood cells in both mother and child requires large amounts of iron.
Iron supplements are key to treating anemia in pregnancy, but you can't know you have iron-deficiency anemia without a blood test. Taking iron when you are not anemic is not good for you or baby - infectious microorganisms need iron, too. If you do have iron-deficiency anemia, folic acid supplements may also help.
The best pregnancy vitamins can also make pregnancy more comfortable. It's not unusual for pregnant women to experience painful leg cramps day or night. Eating foods that are rich in magnesium, such as leafy greens, whole grains, and fruit (the same foods that provide folic acid) helps, but often isn't enough. If the diet is providing enough magnesium and calcium, then a combination of the pregnancy vitamins B-1 (thiamine) and B-6 (pyridoxine) usually relieves this form of distress.
There are even more reasons to take the best pregnancy vitamins.
Miscarriage is caused by many factors, but low levels of vitamin B-12 are high on the list of known risk factors. Taking a pregnancy vitamin supplement that contains the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B-12 may help. This vitamin also prevents certain kinds of anemia not related to iron deficiency.
When there is gestational diabetes, taking the best pregnancy vitamins, especially vitamin B-6. along with chromium, once again, in therapeutic doses rather than in megadoses, helps control blood sugars. This B vitamin also helps prevent complications of diabetes in pregnant women who are diabetic when they are not pregnant.
Many women experience gallbladder problems during pregnancy. Gallbladder ailments may be relieved by s-adenosyl-methionine, also known as SAM-e. A very small dose of SAM-e, as little as 20 mg, will help relieve gallbladder pain. It isn't necessary to spend a lot of money at the supplements store buying a higher dosage, but it's OK to take more, much more, even 800 mg a day, if it's already in your supplement.
Women can help their bodies make their own SAM-e by making sure they take a balanced B vitamin every day. Combining vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, and folic acid allows a woman's body to "recharge" SAM-e. It also prevents harmful levels of the chemical homocysteine from building up in the bloodstream. High homocysteine is surprisingly common during pregnancy, and deficiencies of B vitamins can even affect the baby during breastfeeding.
One last common condition of pregnancy that can be relieved by the best pregnancy vitamins is gingivitis. Folic acid helps, in the form of a folic acid mouthwash or a folic acid supplement.
These are the best pregnancy vitamins: safe, effective, and risk-free. Take these important vitamins as part of a balanced daily supplementation routine for health of mother and child. Be sure that your supplement can be taken any time of day. You shouldn't have to take it with food.
One company that produces a balanced daily nutritional supplement you don't need to take with food is Xtend-Life Natural Products from New Zealand. Their flagship product,Total Balance Women's Premium
, is a balanced daily nutritional supplement containing all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients you need in a single, easy-to-take blend with an enteric coating so you can take it anytime without food.
We take Total Balance ourselves and are very happy with the results. It is in covered it in detail in the "what we take tab" on the upper left hand portion of this page.