Organic prenatal vitamins are an important addition to any pregnant woman's daily lifestyle. These supplements provide added nutritional value that a woman's body needs to help feed and care for the unborn baby, and to keep the mother strong as well. It's not always easy to eat right while pregnant and fighting cravings for all the wrong foods.
Standard vs. Organic Prenatal Vitamins
Taking an organic prenatal vitamin supplement will provide much needed folic acid, calcium and iron, and choosing the right vitamin may help curb nausea as well.
Standard prenatal vitamins provide most of the same benefits as organic prenatal vitamins. The cost is generally lower, too. However, choosing organic prentals ensures that the vitamins are free from pesticide residue and artificial ingredients.
The risk of birth defects such as spina bifida and other neural tube defects is significantly reduced when sufficient amounts of folic acid are present in the prenatal diet. These defects develop very early on in pregnancy so it is recommended to begin supplementing with a prenatal vitamin while you are trying to conceive. Take prenatal vitamins with at least 400mcg of folic acid for the duration of your pregnancy.
Folic acid occurs naturally in foods like nuts, beans, citrus and leafy green vegetables.
Calcium and Iron
Calcium is vital for fetal bone development. In utero, the growing baby utilizes calcium from the mother's body; if the mother doesn't consume sufficient amounts of calcium during pregnancy, this will lead to her own calcium deficiency. Enough calcium must be supplied to the body for both mother and baby to benefit. Calcium can be obtained from milk, cheese, yogurt, dark green leafy vegetables and nuts.
Iron helps the body form healthy red blood cells, which are first supplied to the baby. If sufficient iron is not present, the mother can develop anemia or lack sufficient oxygen to the muscles. These conditions will cause severe exhaustion for a mother who may already be feeling quite overwhelmed. Good sources of iron are broccoli, legumes, shrimp, egg yolks, lean red meat, clams and the potato skin.
It can be difficult to consume sufficient amounts of iron and calcium from foods alone, even if you have a generally healthy diet during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins ensure that both you and baby receive these important minerals.
Vitamin D and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The majority of prenatal vitamins on the market do not contain sufficent vitamin D, and fewer still contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamin D is vital for calcium absorption. As your pregnancy progresses, the baby's developing bones will deplete your own calcium stores if you are not consuming sufficient calcium AND vitamin D. If you drink a couple of glasses of vitamin D-enriched milk daily, that will provide you and your baby with sufficent vitamin D. If not, be sure to look for a prental vitamin with added vitamin D.
Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely important for your baby's brain development, as well as for your mental and physical well-being. Unless you consume mercury-safe fish several times a week, it is unlikely that you will consume sufficient amounts of omega-3 through diet alone. Look for a prenatal vitamin with added omega-3s (or DHA). Find out how omega-3s can ease postpartum depression, and print out a list of mercury-safe food sources.
Are Organic Prenatal Vitamins Better?
The bottom line? It's not necessary to choose organic prenatal vitamins if the higher cost is an issue. It is important, however, to take the highest-quality prenatal vitamin you can afford. Make sure that your prenatal vitamin contains appropriate levels of folic acid, calcium, iron and other vitamins. Check the label to ensure that the vitamin contains no artificial colors, flavors, or sweetners. Ask your doctor if you have any questions or need a recommendation.
Whichever brand of prenatal vitamin you choose, be sure to take the daily. It's one of the best ways to protect your baby against birth defects.