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As a surrogate, it’s important to take care of your health so that you and the baby will get the best possible start. One of the best ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy is to take prenatal vitamins. However, did you know it’s also important to take prenatal vitamins even before you are actually pregnant? Taking prenatal vitamins before your pregnancy will ensure that your body builds up an adequate store of the essential minerals and vitamins. However, with so many prenatal vitamins out there, it can be hard to select the perfect one for you. Here are some of the important minerals and vitamins you should look out for.

IRON

16-30 mg/day

When pregnant, you will need more iron to support the baby’s growth and this is especially true during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. Iron deficiency can result in anaemia in both mother and baby.

However, an excess intake of iron has unpleasant side effects like constipation and nausea (both of which are probably the last things you want in a pregnancy!) Some women find the iron in their prenatal vitamin can make their morning sickness worse.

If morning sickness is a problem, a possible solution is taking a prenatal vitamin with lower levels of iron during the first trimester (when you have the highest chance of morning sickness and your iron requirements are also lower). Once your morning sickness subsides, you can start taking a prenatal vitamin with higher levels of iron. This is also when your iron demands are higher because your baby is growing bigger.

ZINC

8-20 mg/day

Zinc is especially important during preconception. It is vital in supporting ovulation and fertility. Studies in animal models show that zinc deficiency can disrupt embryonic development. Zinc deficiency during pregnancy has also been associated with increased risk of birth defects, fetal death and delivery complications.

Zinc is important for cellular division, DNA and protein synthesis, which is why mothers need more when they are pregnant or nursing. Having sufficient zinc will also help to ensure your immune system is working properly.

VITAMIN B

There are 8 different B vitamins, each with a different function. All of them are essential in supporting the proper growth and development of the unborn baby. Many of the B vitamins are also important in supporting fertility. Some of the important ones are listed below.

FOLIC ACID (Vitamin B9)

400 – 1000 mcg/day

Folic acid is essential for the proper development of the baby’s spine, brain, and skull. All of which occur during the first four weeks of your pregnancy. Since it can be difficult to get the recommended amount from diet alone, most health professionals recommend taking a prenatal vitamin containing folic acid. Studies also show that getting enough folic acid before you conceive lowers the risk of neural tube defects, cardiac defects and premature delivery. Having adequate folic acid has also been linked to increased fertility.

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)

This vitamin is essential for the baby’s brain and nervous system development as well as red blood cell production. Studies also show pregnant women deficient in vitamin B6 have a higher risk of preterm birth and miscarriages. Vitamin B6 is also great for relieving morning sickness.

cobalamins (Vitamin B12)

Vitamin B12 is essential in red blood cells production, DNA synthesis, and proper fetal brain development. Vitamin B12 deficiency (common in vegetarians) has been associated with problems like preterm birth, miscarriages, and intrauterine growth retardation. Since this vitamin is commonly found in animal products like meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and poultry, vitamin B12 supplementation is important for vegetarians and vegans.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Minimum of 200 mg of DHA/day

Omega-3 fatty acids can only be obtained through your diet and the richest sources of Omega-3 are from oily fish. Unfortunately, most women do not eat enough. One of the main reason is many Omega-3 rich fish are also usually contaminated with heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyl compounds (PCB), which is why taking a supplement is a great way to get all your Omega-3 needs.

There are two major Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) that are essential for pregnancy. DHA is important for the baby’s brain and eye development while EPA supports the development of the cardiovascular, immune and inflammatory systems. Studies also show that EPA helps the absorption of DHA, which is why taking a DHA only supplement may not be helpful. You want to take both EPA and DHA. Omega-3 are also known for their mood-balancing effects.

If you’re a surrogate just starting on your pregnancy journey, check out Prenatal Ease Preconception. It’s specially formulated to take into account your nutritional needs during your preconception phase. Once you’re pregnant, Prenatal Ease also has prenatal vitamins that is optimised for every stage of pregnancy (from 1st trimester to postnatal). When it comes to vitamins, more is not necessarily better. It’s all about getting the right balance of nutrients at the right time.

A final thought, always remember a prenatal vitamin is a supplement to your diet and not a replacement. Having a healthy and well-balanced meal is still essential. Think of a prenatal vitamin as a backup for those days when life gets in the way of eating the perfect diet.

Guest Post by the Prenatal Ease Team.

Visit Prenatal Ease for more information.