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What are Pregnancy Supplements?

Article Details
  • Written By: Kerrie Main
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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When many women are trying to get pregnant or discover that they are pregnant, they make changes and improvements to their diets and lifestyles. For example, most of these women begin cutting back or eliminating caffeine and alcohol intake. There are many reasons for the changes, such as wanting the unborn baby to have good health and development. One of the most common ways to provide adequate prenatal care during this time is by taking pregnancy supplements, or prenatal vitamins. Pregnancy supplements are taken to ensure that the developing fetus is getting the needed quantity of essential vitamins and nutrients that it might not receive from the mother’s diet alone.

There are several vitamins and nutrients that fetuses need in order to develop properly, and most regular diets do not provide the recommended amounts. The majority of pregnancy supplements include the daily requirements for folic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and vitamins C and B12. Developing fetuses need folic acid for their brain and spinal cord formations, and when they do not have enough of this nutrient, neural tube defects can occur. Both the mother and the unborn baby need calcium for the production of future lactation needs as well as for the development of healthy teeth and bones.

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One of the most important nutrients found in most pregnancy supplements is iron. This particular nutrient makes hemoglobin, which is the protein in red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to all the body’s cells. During pregnancy, women need more iron than before because their bodies have almost 50 percent more blood than before they became pregnant. Therefore, their bodies need more iron to produce the hemoglobin. If they do not consume enough iron, they might develop anemia, which often is associated with infant mortality, low birth weight and preterm delivery.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means that it protects cells from damage. It also helps with tissue repair, bone growth, keeping skin healthy, healing injuries and fighting off infections. These properties are essential for the unborn baby and the mother, especially because many women are advised to avoid over-the-counter medications during pregnancy. Vitamin B12 helps the fetal brain and nervous system develop, and it produces healthy red blood cells in the fetus and mother.

Even when expecting mothers make healthy food choices and consume many fruits and vegetables per day, they still might not be passing on a high enough quantity of vitamins to their fetuses. Pregnancy supplements might help with this deficiency, because they typically contain many of the daily pregnancy nutritional requirements in one or two capsules or pills. Many doctors recommend that women begin taking pregnancy supplements before conception, while they are trying to get pregnant. This is because most women do not realize that they are pregnant until at least two weeks into the beginning of fetus development, when much of the important growth occurs.

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