No matter your age, doctors recommend a good multivitamin to ensure that you are taking in all the nutrients you need to be healthy. At different stages of life, the various vitamin types and formulas change. While it's possible to obtain all the vitamins you need from a healthy diet, it's incredibly hard to keep diet that regimented.
The body uses vitamins for biological processes including growth, digestion and nerve function. Missing out on one important nutrient repeatedly can result in health problems years down the road.
There are a total of 13 vitamins that the body must have to remain healthy:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Pantothenic acid
- Vitamin B-6
- Vitamin B-12
The American Academy of Family Physicians have defined two types of vitamins. Water-Soluble and Fat-Soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed by the body and as a result the body does not store large amounts of those vitamins. Any excess water-soluble vitamins are processed and disposed of by the kidneys.
Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed into the body through bile acids, the same fluids used to absorb fat. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored within the body for use as needed. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins. As a result, taking too much of these vitamins can result in negative health effects.
Consuming the proper quantities of each vitamin is important and the nuances of knowing what to take and when can become overwhelming. The FDA regulates vitamin products under the umbrella of dietary supplements. Vitamin manufacturers are held to the current Good Manufacturing Practices to ensure quality, but there is no definitive guide to which supplements you should take at what time.
Working with your doctor to determine which vitamins you should take, and in what quantities is important. Heading to your local health store and stocking up on vitamins without a doctor's recommendations might not be the best choice.
Women of childbearing age are held to a different standard and for those planning to conceive, doctors recommend beginning a prenatal vitamin at least three months before conception. Research has shown that women who are vitamin deficient may have pregnancy complications, including neural tube defects.
In 1995, neural tub defects had become such an issue that the U.S. government mandated the fortification of cereal products with folic acid. Since that time, the percentage of babies born with neural tube defects has decreased by over 35%.
Prenatal vitamins typically contain the minimum recommended amount of folic acid, specifically to help prevent the occurrence of neural tube defects. As you prepare for pregnancy, it's important to pay attention to the vitamins your body needs, and find a healthy balance to prevent over ingesting the ones you do not (including excessive fat-soluble vitamins).
A good prenatal vitamin will contain the following: Folic Acid (400 - 600 mg), Iron (30 mg), Iodine (150 mcg), Vitamin B6 (2 mg). Not all prenatal vitamins are the same, and it's important to find the appropriate one for your specific needs. Some doctors recommend a prenatal vitamin with DHA as the omega 3 fatty acid has been shown to aid in brain development both inside and outside the womb.
Other nutrients will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Most women should take a calcium supplement to ensure that they intake 1,000 mg of calcium each day, however too much calcium can interfere with the ability to absorb iron. Vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc, copper and other smaller dosage vitamins are all equally important both before, during and after pregnancy.
There is no one definitive source as to what vitamins each person should take every day. As a result, knowing what to take and when can be confusing. Luckily one of the leading producers of food-based vitamins, Rainbow Light, has launched a new product line specifically to help women who are preparing to conceive. Rainbow Light Vibrance for the First Thousand Days is the first-ever multi vitamin line specifically formulated for a woman's needs prior to conception, throughout her pregnancy and beyond. The First Thousand Days features six different multivitamins that have been specifically formulated to support mom and baby through their first Thousand Days as a family.
The pre-conception vitamin provides 100% of the daily value of Folic Acid in an easy to digest formula. Rainbow Light products are made from non-GMO organic fruits and vegetables and the preconception formula includes prebiotics and probotics to assist with digestion.
It is specifically important to ensure mom is consuming enough folic acid during the first 28 days of her pregnancy. The 1st trimester multivitamin focuses on providing the same level of comprehensive vitamin care, while also addressing feelings of morning sickness with ginger extract.
The Vibrance Trimester 2 is formulated slightly differently from the previous two stages. Trimester 2 includes vitamins that support healthy brain development while also providing magnesium to help prevent constipation for mom and Vitamin B to support energy. Trimester two continues with highly potent folic acid as this vitamin is an important element throughout the entire pregnancy.
Vibrance Trimester 3 prenatal continues to provide folate and choline for brain development but also adds specific calcium and Vitamin D to support bone health.
Good nutrition doesn't stop at delivery, especially if breastfeeding is part of the plan. A postnatal vitamin provides all the nutrients needed for breastfeeding mothers, including a blend of moringa and fenugreek which are good for milk production.
The world is full of unknowns and as a new mother, it can be stressful to know what is right and what is wrong. Most of motherhood is based on gut feelings already and your health doesn't need to be a mystery. Protecting your health is the best thing you can do for your baby, and a good vitamin routine can help with that.
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Trying to conceive? Check out our Pre-Conception section for tips and tons of information on this time in your life.