Folate, Vitamin A, Omega-3s Before Conception
In order to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, you must be healthy before you even conceive your baby. One of the keys to preventing birth defects is to ensure that proper nutrition and the adequate intake of vitamins and minerals is part of your daily diet.
The proper amount of folic acid, or folate as it is known, in your diet is a critical factor in reducing the risk of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida - one of the most common birth defects of all.
Folate Prevents Spina Bifida
Ideally, you should start taking folate (400ug daily) three months before conception and continue through the end of the first trimester (first 12 weeks), which is the crucial period of time during which the spinal cord and brain are developing.
Most pregnancy and pre-natal vitamins contain folate - check the label for dosage and if it is not enough, you many need to take a supplement as well. Folate is also found in certain foods like spinach, broccoli, asparagus, berries, eggs, chick peas, oranges, grapefruits, and some other foods. This is something you can check with your health care professional to ensure you're getting enough of this vital nutrient.
Take Vitamin A in the Right Doses during Pregnancy
Vitamin A, if taken in large quantities, can be very harmful. However, it is a necessary component of a balanced vitamin-mineral regimen and as long as it is taken within the normal doses, it is not harmful. You'll generally find this vitamin incorporated into your pre-natal vitamin.
A better choice, according to some authorities, is to avoid vitamin A and instead take a multi-vitamin that has beta-carotene, which the body can break down to vitamin A as and when it needs it. It is a safer alternative. If you have a question concerning your multi-vitamin, check with your doctor as to its appropriateness for your pregnancy. This is a good thing to go over during your pre-conception visit.
The Value of Omega-3s for You and Baby
Omega-3s are important for supporting your health and promoting good health for your baby. The baby benefits in the areas of the developing cardiac and circulatory systems, as well as the central nervous system. Healthy development of the brain and eyes are other benefits of omega-3s. Women who take high levels of omega-3s during their pregnancies have been shown to have babies with higher attention spans and advanced brain development.
Remember that the nervous system begins to develop immediately upon conception and the brain develops well into the pregnancy, so taking omega-3s long before conception and straight through your pregnancy is a good plan.
Pre-pregnancy Health is Important
By taking the proper nutrition and supplements long before conception, you are ensuring your body has everything it needs to help your baby grow and develop normally. During pregnancy and the months you are lactating, there are huge energy demands on your body and you may become depleted in important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Many pre-natal vitamins are not adequate to supply all of the needs you may have, so be sure to consult with your doctor to ensure you are properly caring for yourself and your baby.