Senior consultant ob-gyn Dr Peter Chew notes that if the mum-to-be’s nutrition is short of certain vitamins and minerals, this might have a serious direct or indirect impact on their foetus’ health.
“[For example], folic acid deficiency can have a direct effect like causing neural tube defects, which can result in spina bifida — an incomplete closing of the backbone — and anencephaly — a birth defect marked by baby being born without parts of his brain and skull.”
On the other hand, a lack of vital minerals, vitamins and supplements can detrimental to you and your foetus’s health:
Calcium deficiency Weak bones and teeth, nerve functions can be affected, too.
Folate deficiency Neural tube birth defects, which affects the brain and spinal cord development.
Iron deficiency A drop in baby’s oxygen levels due to the mother’s lack of blood supply. Also, leads to premature delivery and low birthweight as a result of a mother’s anaemic status.
Iodine deficiency Severe mental disability, stunted physical growth and deafness. It may even cause miscarriage and stillbirth!
Omega 3 fatty acids deficiency Fatigue, poor blood circulation, mood swings and heart problems. Research has shown that a higher consumption of omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA are linked to a lower risk of allergies in infants and premature labour.
Vitamin C deficiency Infections and damage to cells in the body. Also, critical in helping the body to absorb iron.
Vitamin D deficiency Retarded growth and skeletal deformities.
Vitamin E deficiency A higher risk of preeclampsia and high blood pressure in the expectant mothers, as well as lower birthweight in babies.
Taking a dietary supplement will prevent such life-threatening issues. However, Dr Chew cautions that vitamins and mineral supplements should not be taken in place of a healthy diet.
You should avoid taking any other multivitamin products within two hours of eating a vitamin or mineral supplement prescribed by your doctor.
You should only take supplements when you are:
* Unable to prepare healthy and nutritious meals for yourself.
* A vegan — which means that your diet is deficient in a variety of vitamins.
* Suffering from an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia.
* Expecting multiples, such as twins or more.
* Following your doctor’s advice as your daily diet is short of certain nutrients.
Remember that taking a little vitamins and minerals goes a long way. Consuming too much can actually lead to an overdose. If you’re experiencing stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, muscle or joint pain and even have blood in your urine, seek medical help immediately!
You should also avoid taking any other multivitamin products within two hours of eating a vitamin or mineral supplement prescribed by your doctor. Better yet, check with your doc if you really should continue taking your regular multivitamins.
Otherwise, Dr Chew lists the benefits of the following prenatal supplements:
Infographic: Paulyn Ng
Main photo: iStock
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