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What exactly are prenatal vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are nothing else but the combination of minerals and vitamins that are important and necessary for a healthy pregnancy. They can be used by women who are trying to get pregnant or during the breastfeeding period as well. The reason why they are used is because of the lack of these nutrients in a normal diet, such as, folic acid, calcium and iron. A woman does not need a prescription from her doctor to use them, because they can be bought over the counter, at least the greatest majority of them.

Are they perfectly safe for use or there are some risks and possible side effects?

Even though they are not expensive and can be obtained without a prescription, it does not mean that the doctor should not be consulted. This particularly goes for women who have anemia, allergies, a bleeding disorder, Wilson’s disease or even kidney stones. Since they usually contain ingredients derived from fish oil, calcium and folic acid, can negatively affect these conditions. That is why it is important to notify the doctor about their presence in advance. You should also let the doctor know in advance about other medications, and supplements that you are taking, in order to avoid possible interactions. For example, Aspirin, certain antibiotics, and medications for hypothyroidism should be carefully used at the same time, because some minerals tend to prevent the absorption of some of these medications, or they increase the risk of bleeding.

Prenatal vitamins usually consist of vitamin C, vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin A, zinc, copper, potassium and panthothenic acid, and they do not require the approval of the FDA. This is why there haven’t been conducted researches and studies on prenatal vitamins’ side effects, but when having in mind the possible side effects of some of the ingredients, it can be concluded that gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, intestinal cramps and gas might be expected. Other unwanted effects include headache, tiredness, insomnia, loss of appetite, muscle aches and ringing in the ears. None of these symptoms is too serious and they usually disappear on their own. However, if signs of allergic reaction appear, if nausea or vomiting is severe and persistent, or if unexpected bleeding or bruising occurs in cases of prenatal vitamins that contain omega-3 fatty acids, the doctor should be visited as soon as possible.

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