Getting the right nutrients is important at every stage of life, but it’s especially critical during pregnancy as you will need to nourish yourself and your growing baby.

Once you get pregnant, you are likely to be bombarded with advice from everyone you know and possibly strangers on the street! From what you should eat and drink to what to expect from pregnancy and birth, or what products to buy and what to run from – chances are there is a lot of well-meaning but overwhelming advice coming your way. Do not be misled. Arm yourself with the facts about nutrients necessary during pregnancy in this article.

The word prenatal vitamins may sound like a cliché, however prenatal vitamins are vital for pregnant women or women who are trying to get pregnant. Compared to a regular multivitamin, they have more of some nutrients that you need during pregnancy. Your health care provider may prescribe a prenatal vitamin for you, or you can buy them over the counter without a prescription. If you’re planning to get pregnant, start taking prenatal vitamins before you get pregnant.

Hundreds of brands of prenatal supplements are available over the counter. However, only rely on your doctor recommended brands for supplementing during pregnancy. A well balanced supplement rich in the vital nutrients is recommended. Look out for these vital nutrients in each brand since they play a key role in your baby’s growth and development: folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, omega 3 and iodine.

  1. Folic acid, or folate, prevents the risk of your baby being born with a neural tube defect, like spina bifida. Ideally, women should take at least 400 micrograms folic acid daily from before they plan to become pregnant, right through the first trimester.
  2. Iodine is essential for your baby’s brain development and nervous system. Women should take 150 micrograms of iodine supplements daily, and eat iodine rich foods like seafood, iodine fortified bread and iodized table salt, throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
  3. Your body requires increased iron during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about checking your iron levels, and eat plenty of iron rich foods such as red meat, iron-fortified cereals while you are pregnant. Foods with vitamin C will help your body absorb iron.
  4. Vitamin D and Calcium: These two vitamins are especially important in pregnancy as they help your baby’s bones, teeth, kidney, heart and nervous system to develop. All pregnant women should take a 10 microgram (or 400 IU) supplement of vitamin D and at least 1200mg of calcium each day.
  5. Omega-3 (DHA) improves your baby’s eye and brain growth and early development. Omega 3 containing supplements are more beneficial compared to those without.

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