National Geographic : 1977 Oct
Why do so many women worry about vitamins when they're pregnant, and stop when they're not? If you've ever been pregnant, or plan to have a baby someday, you should know how important good nu trition is to health. Pregnant women have substan tially lower vitamin levels than their fetuses. This is because the growing, unborn child gets its nourishment directly from its mother's blood. So, while the fetus is getting the lion's share of vitamins, its mother is coming up short. Before and after birth: nutrition counts. One third of all pregnant women also have a folic acid vitamin deficiency, a condition that could lead to certain forms of anemia. There is also evidence that poor nutrition in a pregnant woman can affect the transfer of nutrients to the fetus. Because of the importance of vitamins during pregnancy, the Food & Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sci ences recommends a vitamin intake increase of 25 to 50%. Even after birth, vitamins are important. Nursing mothers who are not receiving adequate nutrition suffer a re duction in milk. On the other hand, an increase in the mother's vitamin intake rapidly raises the level of vitamins in her milk. Vitamins are essential to everyone's life and health. It's very possible to come up short on vita mins over a period of time with gradual depletion of body stores. Then, once levels are sig nificantly depleted, noticeable symptoms can result. You can lose your appetite and then body weight. Often increased irri tableness, sleeplessness or con stant drowsiness occur. Lowering of vitamin levels over extended periods can change your body's chemistry and, in turn, result in abnormal metabolism. You don't have to be pregnant to need extra vitamins. If you take birth control pills you could need extra folic acid,B1,, B B12 and uptoten times the normal amount of vitamin Be. This has been confirmed in sev eral studies. However, your own physician should be consulted. Men as well as women may need extra vitamins. If you drink, smoke, diet or hap pen to be sick, you may be robbing your body of vitamins. There are a variety of ways to make sure you get enough vitamins. First, eat a balanced diet and look at the nutritional labels of the foods you buy.Tbday, many foods are vitamin enriched or fortified. To be sure, you can take vitamin supplements daily.There are a number of different formulations including multiple vitamins and B complex with C, as well as supple ments of individual vitamins. Vitamin Information Service, Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., Nutley, New Jersey 07110. ROCHE o Your health is our concern.