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  • The Importance of a Prenatal Vitamin

The Importance of a Prenatal Vitamin

By Shawna Page, Founder and CEO of femMED

Proper nutrition is essential for good health and disease prevention. During pregnancy it is particularly important that women ensure adequate intake of nutrients to support the growing baby and their own health. Yet, according to some research 20 to 30 percent of pregnant women have a vitamin and mineral deficiency, and without supplementation, roughly 75 percent of pregnant women would be deficient in at least one vitamin. Thus, taking a prenatal supplement makes good sense for both mother and baby.

Prenatal supplements are specially formulated with increased levels of certain nutrients that are required to support a healthy pregnancy and reduce the risk of deficiency syndromes in both mother and baby. These nutrients include folic acid, calcium, iron and zinc. Folic acid is particularly critical as studies show that it can reduce the risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida by 70 percent.

Health care providers recommend women take a prenatal supplement with folic acid even before they conceive because neural tube defects originate within the first 28 days of conception, and many pregnancies are unplanned. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) and the Motherisk Program jointly released updated clinical guidelines in December 2007, based on new research about the benefits of folic acid supplementation for women planning to have children. Specifically, the clinical guidelines recommend that:

“Women with no personal health risks, planned pregnancy, and good compliance require a good diet of folate-rich foods and daily supplementation with a multivitamin with folic acid (0.4-1.0 mg) for at least two to three months before conception and throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period (4-6 weeks and as long as breastfeeding continues).”

Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children have also found that taking prenatal multivitamins fortified with folic acid can reduce the risk of three common childhood cancers: leukemia, brain tumours and neuroblastoma and can reduce the risk of a wide range of serious birth defects, including cardiovascular and limb defects, cleft palate, oral cleft, congenital hydrocephalus and urinary tract anomalies.

A prenatal supplement can also provide a big nutritional boost for women who suffer from nausea and vomiting due to morning sickness. Just recently femMED introduced Pregnancy + Ginger, the first prenatal supplement to contain a therapeutic amount of ginger root powder to help ease nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy. In clinical research, ginger has been shown to be effective in reducing nausea without causing drowsiness. femMED Pregnancy + Ginger also contains slightly less iron than other prenatal supplements since iron can contribute to nausea.

According to Dr. Fay Weisberg who is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Toronto.

“I am thrilled to finally see the inclusion of a safe anti-nauseate like ginger in a high quality prenatal,” says Dr. Fay Weisberg, gynecology and infertility specialist. “Up to 80 percent of pregnant women experience some level of nausea and vomiting particularly in their first trimester; this natural remedy will be well received and a welcome relief to many.”

Although a quality prenatal supplement will provide all the essential vitamins and minerals, they are not a substitute for a healthy diet. Pregnancy is a time when you need to take extra care in ensuring that are meeting your and your baby’s nutritional demands.