Advantages & Disadvantages of Prenatal Vitamins

A lack of vitamins can cause health problems in any period of your life. During pregnancy, however, the problems can be very serious. Babies who don’t receive certain vitamins can develop neural tube defects, muscular and bone defects and other life-threatening problems. If you’re nauseous during your pregnancy, you might be skipping meals or avoiding certain foods. This is when prenatal vitamins become essential. Before you choose one, however, talk to your doctor so you can weigh the pros and cons of each brand.

Helps Development

Certain vitamins are essential for the healthy development of the fetus. For example, folic acid helps the spinal cord and brain mature, while calcium promotes the growth of muscle and blood cells. A lack of calcium can affect the baby’s circulatory and nervous systems. Prenatal vitamins ensure your baby is getting all the necessary nutrition even if your diet is less than perfect.

Interference With Conditions

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Pregnant women who have certain medical conditions should not take prenatal vitamins without their doctors’ approval. According to eMedTV, prenatal vitamins can make kidney stones worse, increase the risk of bleeding, affect anemia diagnosis and cause allergic reactions. Prenatal vitamins can also interact with certain antibiotics, hypothyroidism medication and aspirin. Consult with your doctor or a pharmacist before taking prenatal vitamins, especially if you are already on any other medication.

Complements Diet

Prenatal vitamins can complement a less-than-perfect diet. Women who don’t eat certain foods, like fish or dairy, can get essential nutrients from a multi-vitamin. For example, strict vegetarians might benefit from a prenatal vitamin complex that includes iron. Pregnant women who don’t spend enough time outdoors and don’t drink D-fortified dairy products might find prenatal vitamins useful as well.

Potential Nausea

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Nausea is a common reaction to taking your prenatal vitamins, according to Heidi Murkoff, author of the bestselling book “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” If you’re already nauseous or have morning sickness, taking a pill can make it even worse and cause vomiting. To keep the pills down, you might need to take them later in the day rather than first thing in the morning.