Becoming pregnant can be an exciting time. One of the most important things you can do to prepare for pregnancy is make sure you’re eating a healthy diet. Prenatal nutrition is very important, and getting a head start will pay dividends once you get pregnant. A healthy diet can help boost your fertility, help get your body ready for pregnancy and help keep you healthy.
However, even if a woman eats a well-balanced diet, sometimes additional vitamins and minerals can be helpful to ensure her body is getting enough nutrition during pregnancy. This is why prenatal vitamins are so important. They help women make up for many nutritional shortcomings and ensure that the baby is getting the nutrition it needs for proper development.
“As long as you're having a healthy pregnancy, Health Canada advises taking a prenatal vitamin containing .4 mg (400mcg) of folic acid and 16 – 20 mg of iron each day,” says BabyCenter.
“You shouldn't need to take vitamins to get the rest of your vitamins and minerals. All you need to do is make sure you have a variety of healthy foods. A balanced diet is the best way to get the nutrients you and your baby need,” they add.
It’s also important not to overdo it. It is possible to take too many vitamins, and it could actually hurt your baby. “Don’t take more than the recommended dose, which is usually one vitamin a day. Taking megadoses of certain vitamins can be harmful to you and your baby,” says BabyCenter.
Three important vitamins for a healthy pregnancy
These vitamins will play a key role in ensuring you have a healthy pregnancy:
- Folic acid: This helps to support the development of the baby’s central nervous system. It’s recommended that a woman starts taking folic acid as soon as she thinks about becoming pregnant. Folate, the natural form of folic acid, is found in foods such as nuts, spinach and other green vegetables.
- Iron: “According to a 2011 study published in the journal PLoS One, iron deficiency early in pregnancy could have a major impact on a child's long-term brain development, so it's important to get enough of the stuff while you’re trying to conceive,” says Women’s Health. Iron is commonly found in meat, kidney beans and spinach.
- Vitamin B6: This is one of the most important vitamins that helps reduce the symptoms of morning sickness. It also helps with the baby’s brain development and function. This vitamin is found in chicken, carrots, sunflower seeds and brown rice.
Every pregnancy is different. Depending on your current diet, health and other factors, you may or may not need to increase your intake of specific vitamins. If you are planning to get pregnant or have recently become pregnant, talk to your doctor about your diet and prenatal vitamin options.