The responsibilities of parenthood are multifaceted and begin even before your little bundle of joy arrives. It is important to take care of yourself before, during and after pregnancy, so that you and your baby can get the healthy start and nutritional support you need. Pregnancy and lactation place higher calorie and nutrient demands on the body. Key nutrient gaps in the American diet include vitamins A, C, E, D and K, and minerals calcium, magnesium and potassium. These and other key nutrient gaps can exist and are specific to each person and their dietary pattern. Before, during and after pregnancy, women should focus on a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, low- or non-fat dairy and lean protein. Prenatal and postnatal multivitamin/mineral supplements help address key dietary nutrient gaps to support the health of the mother and her developing baby.
Before pregnancy, women of childbearing age should supplement their diet with a multivitamin/mineral supplement that contains at least 400 mcg of folic acid. A daily multivitamin can help fill in dietary gaps and meet daily nutritional requirements for essential nutrients. Consuming an adequate amount of folic acid is very important when planning a pregnancy, since this B vitamin is vital to help prevent neural tube defects (abnormalities or the brain and spine) in your baby. The neural tube is already formed by day 28 of gestation, before many women know they are pregnant. Spina bifida is caused by the failure of the neural tube to develop properly, which is involved in normal brain and spinal cord development. Healthful diets with adequate folic acid taken prior to conception through the sixth week of pregnancy may reduce a woman's risk of having a child with a neural tube defect.
To also help ensure nutritional support before pregnancy, calcium and vitamin D supplementation is often necessary, as these are two common nutrient gaps in the American diet. Most women do not meet the daily recommended levels for calcium (1,000 mg/day) or vitamin D (600-2,000 IU/day), from diet alone, but these micronutrients are essential for bone health.†
Along with folic acid, calcium and vitamin D during pregnancy, a daily prenatal multivitamin/mineral supplement with key nutrients such as iron and DHA is recommended. Iron needs significantly increase during pregnancy (from 18 mg/day during childbearing years to 27 mg/day during pregnancy) to support the increased blood volume, and a prenatal supplement can help meet these higher iron needs. The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may also be important to help support the baby’s developing brain and eyes.† Look for a prenatal supplement with these key nutrients to provide optimal nutritional assistance for you and your baby during pregnancy.
With all of their new responsibilities after giving birth, many mothers may not consume sufficient amounts of nutrient-dense foods, as the woman is eating for herself and developing baby. Therefore, a postnatal multivitamin/mineral supplement after pregnancy can help fill key dietary gaps for the new mom, with higher levels of vitamin D to support overall health and B vitamins for cellular energy demands, to name a few. With all that new mothers have to worry about, getting daily nutritional support from a postnatal multivitamin/mineral supplement is something you shouldn’t have to worry about!