Pop quiz: What inspires a woman to live healthfully? An Instagram account filled with fitspirational photos and quotes? An upcoming vacation requiring a beach body? A healthy cookbook?
From what Dr. Diana Ramos sees in her work as an OB-GYN from Los Angeles, California, the answer is none of the above. It’s pregnancy.
“I do not see women more motivated to take care of themselves than pregnant women,” says Ramos, an associate clinical professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Keck University of Southern California School of Medicine. “They’re motivated to make sure they do the right thing.”
Part of doing the right thing, she says, is taking a prenatal vitamin. Though they’re no substitute for a healthy diet, the pills (or gels or chews) contain an important mix of vitamins and minerals that are in high demand in a pregnant body – and tough to get enough of through diet alone.
By taking supplements, says registered dietitian Tamara Melton, “we can prevent a lot of different disorders and diseases that could affect the baby later on in their life.” Folic acid, for one, helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida and congenital heart disease, while iron helps a woman’s body deliver enough oxygen to the baby.