Modern day medicine has made great advancements to ensure healthy pregnancies, although some of the most powerful tools we have bring us back to the basics of nature, such as nutrition.

When pregnant, you are striving to be a healthy and strong host for your newborn, providing a nutritious and supporting environment.

This is the reason for prenatal vitamins — to help cover the basics of critically needed nutrients, as well as plug the holes of possible deficiencies.

January is cervical health awareness month, national birth defects awareness month, and folic acid awareness month — which comes as no coincidence, as folic acid plays a pivotal role.

Folic acid is needed for the proper development of the human body and is especially important for energy production and the immune system. It is involved in producing the genetic material called DNA and in numerous other bodily functions.

In an expecting mother, folic acid deficiency can cause severe birth defects known as neural tube defects. Folic acid is needed for the growth of the fetus's spinal cord and brain. 

When someone is pregnant, the amount of blood in their body increases, which requires more iron to make more hemoglobin, as well as for the needs of the growing baby and placenta. It is critical that iron levels be assessed and corrected, while most doctors will recommend a prenatal vitamin which contains 27 mg of iron.

What is gaining more attention is the importance of omega-3 fatty acids to both the expecting mother and the newborn baby.

Pregnant women will often have low omega-3 fatty acid levels since they are often recommended not to consume too much fish (primary source of omega-3’s) due to the heavy metals present, which can be harmful to the fetus.

A pure, high quality omega-3 fish oil should be included in a woman's supplement regimen before and during pregnancy, as well as during breastfeeding. Omega-3 fatty acids consist primarily of EPA and DHA.

Where both are important, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is so essential to a child's development that if a mother and infant are deficient in it, the child's nervous system and immune system may never fully develop, and it can cause a lifetime of unexplained emotional, learning, and immune system disorders.

DHA makes up 15% to 20% of the cerebral cortex and 30% to 60% of the retina, so it is necessary for normal development of the fetus and baby.

Here are Martin’s Pharmacy we offer free prenatal vitamins, providing 1 mg of folic acid as well as 27 mg of iron.

Martin’s Pharmacy also recommends a high-quality EPA/DHA supplement, such as EPA / DHA Essentials or DHA Enhance for children and adults- both from Pure Encapsulations.

Quality is critical in a fish oil supplement, as it is understood that fish can be contaminated with various toxins and heavy metals.

Thorough testing and development ensures Pure Encapsulations fish oil supplements free of contaminants as well as issues of rancidity and oxidation.