Vitamin Consumer's Need States- Part 1, Prenatal
Prenatal vitamins are often recommended for women who are attempting to become pregnant or are already pregnant in order to support a healthy pregnancy. These vitamins are known to decrease birth defects such as brain and spinal cord deformations, as well as to provide nutrients that are more vital during a pregnancy than in normal lifestyles. Many women feel as though the nutrients that are provided through prenatal vitamins can be consumed in other ways, such as through a change in diet. Other women do not prefer to consume prenatal vitamins as they sometimes cause negative side effects such as nausea and constipation. As a result, women are focusing their efforts on obtaining the same vitamins found in prenatal vitamins through other means. Below you will find a breakdown of the purpose of prenatal vitamins, the things that make women want to take or not take these vitamins, as well as issues and alternatives to prenatal vitamins.
Prenatal vitamins are marketed to women across the globe as something that can help to decrease disorders and diseases in their babies. Prenatal vitamins are known to lower the risk for brain and spinal cord birth defects, especially ones that cause a baby's brain and skull to not completely form during pregnancy. Additionally, these vitamins are marketed to women that are trying to get pregnant, as something that they should take to help prevent diseases before pregnancy occurs and support a positive pregnancy.
Motivations and Trigger Points
For the most part, women tend to take prenatal vitamins as a form of "insurance" that both mother and child are receiving all nutrients that they need. During a pregnancy, women need more nutrients than they normally would, and often times do not have the correct diet to consume what they require on a daily basis. As a result, more women are turning to prenatal vitamins to supplement their diets during pregnancy. Women are also taking prenatal vitamins as they have been reported to boost the nutrients in breast milk, as well as helping to prevent postpartum mood swings. Additionally, more studies are showing that women who do not take prenatal vitamins two times the chance of birthing a child with autism compared with women who do take prenatal vitamins.
Studies are also showing that women that do not take prenatal vitamins are more likely to have children with some of the following birth defects:
Women are also more prone to preeclampsia and restricted fetal growth, prompting them to focus more on taking prenatal vitamins. Many women over 50 who are not having children are also reporting to be taking prenatal vitamins, as they believe that they will help nail and hair growth.
How Consumers Talk/Feel about Prenatal Vitamins
Although many women are taking prenatal vitamins for the reasons listed above, there are a growing number of women who feel as though prenatal vitamins are unnecessary. For example, one woman wrote that, "Women have been giving birth much longer than prenatal vitamins have been available," and thus does not take them. Women who feel this way often resort to other methods of achieving optimal nutritional intake, such as changing their diets. Other women mention that prenatal vitamins may provide some additional supplementation, but lack in certain vitamins that they need more of, such as Vitamin D. Additionally, there have been complaints about how prenatal vitamins are large and difficult to swallow, and also have unpleasant tastes and side effects.
Some major barriers that prevent women from taking prenatal vitamins or cause women to intentionally not take them include the major health side effects. Many women report that prenatal vitamins cause them nausea or morning sickness, and thus will stop taking them. The most reported side effects of prenatal vitamins are constipation and diarrhea, but vomiting and headaches are commonly reported as well.
In addition to these side effects, there are many women reporting overdoses from taking these, even on a regular basis, resulting in stomach pain, blood in urine, and muscle/joint pain. One of the major vitamins in prenatal vitamins, folate, also causes issues for women such as sleep disturbances, depression, and zinc deficiency, further causing them to not want to continue taking them.
For women that do not want to take prenatal vitamins, many are reverting to a change in diet to compensate for vitamin deficiencies. Specifically, foods that are higher in saturated fats and pasture raised are the ones women are focusing on consuming in order to get the nutrients that would otherwise be supplied by prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins are more so necessary whenever women are unwilling to compensate and change their habits while pregnant to ingest all necessary nutrients. The two most important vitamins contained in prenatal vitamins are folic acid and Vitamin D, which can easily be found in natural foods. Prenatal vitamins should not be used as a replacement for a quality diet or source for nutrients, but rather as a supplement to obtaining the total amount necessary for a healthy pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamins have been found to decrease birth defects and contribute towards a healthy pregnancy. However, many women are focusing their efforts on a more natural way of obtaining the same nutrients, specifically through diet alternations. Much of this is due to the fact that women are experiencing negative side effects when taking prenatal vitamins, such as constipation, headaches, and nausea. Women that are more prone to taking prenatal vitamins are often ones who do not have the time/energy to compensate through a specific diet, or who struggle to obtain enough of the specific vitamins provided through prenatal vitamins.