Various supplements from different sources are available in the market, sold through pharmacies and other drug stores. No where is the use of such supplements controversial as in pregnancy, a fact that has led to confusion rather than proper information to pregnant women. Because your desire is to have a healthy pregnancy and bring forth a healthy baby, it is only proper that you know the vitamin and nutritional supplements to use and those to avoid during pregnancy.
It is important to point out at this stage that various vitamins and nutritional supplements have been subjected to both safety and efficacy tests by various agencies such as the American Drug and Food Administration Agency with varied results. While some supplements have been established to be harmless but add no value to pregnant women, others have been found to be potentially harmful and inappropriate for use by pregnant women. On the other hand, others have been found to be actually useful to pregnant women.
Two categories of vitamin supplements are available. The first are fat-soluble vitamins. They include vitamins A, D, E and K. The second are water-soluble vitamins and they include the B-group vitamins and vitamin C. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body and supplementation of the same becomes necessary during pregnancy to meet increased requirements.
Vitamin A is necessary for good vision and is obtained from animal sources including cod liver oil and liver. Vitamin A deficiency is rare and its supplementation is not necessary during pregnancy. More over, high doses of vitamin A can be dangerous to the developing baby.
Vitamin D is very necessary during pregnancy. It is very essential for the future development of a born child. Although its deficiency is rare because it is naturally manufactured in the skin on exposure to the sun, supplementation may be necessary during pregnancy particularly by women who rarely get exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is not only essential in the development of a baby after birth; it is crucial for proper development of bones, which eliminates the risk of rickets. Vitamin D has also been established to be beneficial to pregnant women in preventing pre-eclampsia, one of pregnancy complications.
The use of vitamin E by pregnant women is very common. This is because of unproven claims to the effect that vitamin E prevents miscarriage and pre-eclampsia. From research studies, high dosage of vitamin E during pregnancy increases the risk of stillbirth and supplementation of the same is therefore discouraged. Vitamin K that naturally occurs in food plants such as green vegetables is very important during pregnancy. Its deficiency diminishes the risk of excessive bleeding. Its supplementation before and during pregnancy is necessary.
Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins in the body. It is a very powerful antioxidant vitamin that protects the body against harmful radicals. It is also useful during pregnancy as it prevents such cases of anemia, low birth weight and pregnancy complications including pre-eclampsia. Supplementation of vitamin C before and during pregnancy is highly recommended for the benefit of both expecting mother and unborn child.
The B group of vitamins plays a very important role during pregnancy. Vitamin B9 in particular stand out for its vital role in the synthesis of DNA and cell division. It is one of the most common vitamin supplements used by women during pregnancy. Vitamins B1 and B6 are also beneficial.
From the foregoing, the importance of some vitamin and nutrition supplements cannot be underestimated. However, such supplements should be obtained and used on prescription. This is crucial because like medications, high doses of supplements can be dangerous both to a pregnant woman and to the growing baby.