How To Pick A Prenatal Vitamin
Most brands of prenatal vitamins will be safe to take, but do note that like all supplements, prenatal vitamins are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration . When choosing, there are some key things to look for on the label.
Most prenatal vitamins contain all the necessary vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy pregnancy, says Santos. However, it’s always a good idea to ensure that the prenatal vitamin you are choosing has certain essential supplements, starting with folic acid.
Santos says your vitamin should contain 400 mcg of folic acid, but you should talk to your provider about this, as different conditions call for an increase in the amount of folic acid, such as a history of neural tube defects.
Iron is another important ingredient. Calcium inhibits the absorption of iron, so youll notice that if your vitamin has adequate iron, it will likely have very little calcium, says Imberman. For this reason, if there is a concern about calcium in the diet, you can take a calcium supplement. Be sure to take it at a different time of day than you take the other vitamin, she notes.
Santos says to also look for vitamins containing 200 mg of DHA and 150 mcg of iodine. There are also certain vitamins you dont need massive amounts of in a prenatal. One is biotin. The FDA actually lowered the recommended daily allowance of biotin to just 30 mcg in 2020.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Taking Prenatal Vitamins
There can be. Nausea and digestive upset is one of the main ones, and typically iron is the culprit. It can be pretty hard on the stomach.
Additionally, if your prenatal contains DHA from fish oil, you may get a case of the fishy burps every once in a while. NBD, just a little gross just like almost everything else when youre pregnant .
Why Prenatal Vitamins Are Essential
throughout your being pregnant, your physiques dietary necessities are totally different than at different occasions, and prenatal nutritional vitamins are designed for the precise wants of pregnant girls. For instance, prenatal nutritional vitamins have extra iron, calcium, and folic acid than common multivitamins. Folic acid is confirmed to be a vital consider stopping neural tube start defects, which is why its endorsed that every one girls of kid bearing age take a folic acid complement, and in addition why pregnant girls must take greater than the overall inhabitants.
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Misconceptions About Prenatal Vitamins
Many women claim that prenatal vitamins affect hair and nail growth. Some claim that taking prenatal vitamins makes hair grow thicker or faster, and that nails could grow faster or stronger too.
But according to the Mayo Clinic, these claims havent been proven. Taking prenatal vitamins for better hair or nails likely wont bring the desired results. They could also have adverse side effects.
Essential Nutrients For Prenatal Vitamins
When choosing a prenatal vitamin, it is critical to read the labels and make sure you are choosing a vitamin that contains all of the necessary vitamins and minerals required to address any existing nutritional deficiencies you may have and support a future pregnancy. A good prenatal vitamin should contain:
- Iodine: Choose a prenatal vitamin that contains at least 150 mcg of iodine, which supports a developing babys thyroid and brain development.
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Potential Risks And Side Effects Of Prenatal Vitamins
There are no risks to taking a prenatal vitamin daily as long as consuming only the recommended amounts of the vitamins and minerals, says Dr. Purdie. She adds that some people may experience nausea or constipation as a result of their prenatal vitamins, but simple lifestyle changeslike taking vitamins with food and increasing water and fiber intakecan help mitigate these side effects.
How Do I Choose Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are readily available over the counter and a prescription is generally unnecessary.
If youre concerned about which to choose, dont be. Theres not much difference between over the counter and prescription prenatals, and both are adequate, assures Dr. Nwankwo.
Sometimes prescription prenatals may have special formulationsfor example, they may have a stool softener added to help with constipation, or they may have additional iron. The pills may also be smaller and easier to take. But its not necessary, she says. It also doesnt matter whether you take a tablet or a gummy, just make sure it has the right amount of vitamins you need.
Every vitamin can differ in the types and amounts of nutrients it contains because specific vitamin ingredients arent regulated by the FDA. If the vitamin you choose doesnt contain the full recommended daily amount of a nutrient, be sure to eat foods that are high in that vitamin or mineral.
When shopping for prenatal vitamins look for these four primary nutrients that are especially important during pregnancy, per Dr. Nwankwo and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists):
- Folic acid: 600 mcg
- Iron: 27 mg
- Calcium: 1,000 mg
- Vitamin D: 600 IU
The following vitamins are also essential during pregnancy, and you may not get enough of them through diet alone. Having these in your prenatals are helpful too:
- Vitamin A: 770 mcg
- Vitamin C: 85 mg
- Vitamin B12: 2.6 mcg
- Choline: 450 mg
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How We Chose The Best Prenatal Vitamins
We started with the ingredients outlined above and found prenatal supplements that contain most of the nutrients you need. From there, we checked which of these options were also tested and recommended by members of our What to Expect community, OB/GYNs or editors.
Here are our top picks.
See registry advice and a custom baby gear checklist
When Should I Take Prenatal Vitamins
Always talk with your doctor before starting to take prenatal vitamins. If youre trying to conceive or are pregnant, your doctor will likely recommend that you take them.
While you can buy prenatal vitamins over the counter, doctors can prescribe them too. Women who are carrying multiples, pregnant teenagers, and pregnant women with a history of substance abuse have a higher risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Prenatal vitamins are particularly important for these women.
Doctors often recommend that women who are breastfeeding also continue taking prenatal vitamins after delivery. Prenatal vitamins can serve as a further supplement to lactating women who need plenty of nutrients to make breast milk.
Even if you arent trying to get pregnant, you still might want to take a folic acid supplement. Thats because half of the pregnancies in the United States arent planned. Because the brain and spinal cord are already forming at the early stages of pregnancy, folic acid is vital. Women of childbearing age could also eat more folate-rich foods as an alternative to taking a supplement.
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When Should I Start Taking A Prenatal Multivitamin
If you are trying to conceive, the best time to start taking a prenatal multivitamin is right away. Why? Because you want to make sure your body has enough of the key nutrients in a prenatal multivitamin to support the growth and development of your baby even before you know you are pregnant.
Over nine months, the baby grows at a rapid pace while mom changes along with babys development. Pregnancy places higher nutrient demands on the body, since mom must meet the nutritional needs of a growing baby without sacrificing her own nutrient requirements. But what are the most important nutrients needed during pregnancy? What vitamins and minerals are in prenatal multivitamins? Certain nutrients are vital both before and during pregnancy, including the following:
What Goes In A Prenatal Vitamin
Most high-quality prenatals will include folate, iron, calcium, vitamin D, DHA, and iodine.
- Folate: The CDC recommends folate specifically to women of reproductive age to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
- Iron: Iron is important for making the extra red blood cells youll need for pregnancy and can decrease the chances of complications such as low birth weight and preterm delivery.
- Calcium: Calcium and vitamin D are helpful for building strong bones and teeth for you and your baby.
- DHA: Finally, DHA is a building block of your baby’s developing nervous system.This omega-3 fatty acid can be found in fish and in omega-3 fortified foods like eggs and dairy.
- Choline: Most prenatals lack choline. But growing evidence of its benefits shows choline improves several pregnancy outcomes and protects against certain neural and metabolic disorders.
When youre on your TTC journey, its important to consume enough of these nutrients to meet your recommended daily allowance . This ensures both mom and baby have what they need for a healthy pregnancy. Natalists prenatal provides comprehensive prenatal nutrition that meets or exceedsACOG‘s recommendations for pregnancy.
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When Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins
Ideally, you’ll start taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you decide to start trying to conceive. Women who take supplemental folic acid before they get pregnant before the sperm meets the egg can substantially reduce the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly, which are conditions that occur very early after conception.
If you weren’t taking a prenatal before you conceived, don’t panic. Just start taking one now, and continue popping one daily after you give birth until you stop breastfeeding.
What Are The Benefits Of Taking Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins fill in any nutritional gaps your body needs to support a growing baby, especially when diet alone isn’t enough to meet the body’s nutritional needs. “Prenatal vitamins are important before and during pregnancy to help your body meet the demands of pregnancy and aid in your babys development,” says Cordelia Nwankwo, MD, an ob-gyn in Washington, D.C. Remember, now that you’re pregnant, the nutrients you consume are going to you and the growing fetus.
Here are some specific ways prenatal vitamins can support your pregnancy.
1. They contribute to the development of the baby’s nervous system.
On the list of very important nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy, folic acid is up there. It’s important in developing the baby’s brain and spinal cord. “Folic acid will help with the neural tube development and can help prevent neural tube defects, like spina bifida,” says Dr. Nwankwo.
Spina bifida is a condition where the neural tube fails to develop or close properly. It can later cause your child to experience symptoms like learning difficulties, or may sometimes require surgical intervention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , it’s important that women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant take 400 mcg of folic acid daily.
2. They can help prevent anemia.
3. They can also support your immune system.
5. They can prevent nausea.
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Are All Prenatal Vitamins Pretty Much The Same
No. Prescription vitamins are regulated by the Food and Drug administration, but they’re not required to contain certain nutrients. “There are many different formulations available, with different concentrations of each nutrient,” says Kukreja. Some have a little of everything others contain only a handful of nutrients. If you have special health considerations, your OB may suggest a supplement with added nutrients to meet your needs.
How To Choose The Best Prenatal Vitamin For You
When it comes to choosing a prenatal vitamin, keep the following tips in mind.
- Liskov recommends consulting your healthcare provider with any questions about your pregnancy. They may prescribe additional supplements, such as added folic acid or calcium, to help as you plan for your baby. She warns against adding supplements without the approval of your doctor or midwife.
- Dr. Purdie says most prenatal vitamins on the market today have similar nutritional profiles, which should help take the pressure off when visiting the pharmacy.
- The price of prenatal vitamins varies widely. Choose an option you can affordand one that youll take consistently throughout pregnancy to support fetal growth and development.
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Other Supplements In Pregnancy
Other than folic acid, vitamin D and iodine and any supplement prescribed for you by your doctor, there is limited evidence to support the use of supplements during pregnancy.
Emerging research has shown that omega-3 supplements during pregnancy might help reduce the risk of premature birth, and that probiotics might help control blood glucose levels in pregnancy. But its not clear whether the benefits of taking these supplements outweigh any possible harms. Until there is better evidence available, its best to avoid them unless prescribed by your doctor â particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Because nutritional supplements are classed as complementary medicines, they are not scrutinised or regulated as much as other medicines.
What Impacts My Fertility
There are a lot of factors that contribute to your fertility. You and your partners age, medical history, and family history are top factors to consider when thinking about how long it will take you to get pregnant. For a healthy woman in her 20s or early 30s, the chance of conceiving each month is 25%-30%.
Here are lifestyle factors you can control when trying to conceive:
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Hormones Not Prenatal Vitamins Are The Culprit
As it happens, the precise cause of that radiant glow that many women experience during pregnancy isnt directly caused by prenatal vitamins at all: Though the referenced vitamins are a key part of a healthy pregnancy, the observed glow of the skin, the fuller, redder lips, and the shinier hair can be attributed to the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy.
Hormones are the bodys signaling molecules, and the levels of certain hormones fluctuate in response to the needs of our bodies to address the challenges it faces. Testosteronean androgen involved in androgenic alopeciais a type of hormone that weve discussed at length. Estrogen is another such hormone, and one that becomes elevated in women during development and pregnancy. As a beneficial side effect, estrogen prolongs the lifetime of our hair by keeping a greater proportion of our hair follicles in the anagen phase of growth.
As a consequence, though, once pregnancy has passed and estrogen levels return to normal, the decline in estrogen leads a correspondingly greater proportion of those hair follicles to enter into the shedding period of telogen phase, leading to postpartum hair loss.
You Docs: Are Prenatal Vitamins Ok For Women Over 50
Q: I’m taking prenatal vitamins even though I’m 51 and not trying to get pregnant. Is this OK?
A: If they’re safe for developing babies, you’d think they’d be safe for you. But that’s not the case. Prenatal vitamins contain far too much iron for women ages 50 to 70 — 30 mg, almost four times your recommended daily allowance.
With iron, too much of what is otherwise a good thing may increase your risk of diabetes and, worse, can be toxic to your liver. Prenatal vitamins also have too much folate for people who aren’t pregnant. They contain about 800 to 1,000 micrograms of this B vitamin. That’s double what you need, and it can cause trouble: Excess folate in supplement form may fuel the growth of tiny cancers.
And they come up short on calcium for your age group. You need 1,200 mg of that mineral many prenatal vitamins don’t contain that much. If all this isn’t enough to convince you to switch to a regular multivitamin, here’s the kicker: They’re at least double the price of a multi! Make the switch.
Q: I know it’s good to stay away from red meat, but what about venison?
A: Eat it and enjoy: Venison is an excellent source of low-fat protein. A 3-ounce serving has fewer calories than beef or pork and less than half the fat: 5 grams versus 12 grams for 3 ounces of sirloin steak. In fact, healthwise, venison is more like chicken breast than red meat. Substitute it for beef anywhere you can .
First, be sure you’re avoiding your triggers as much as you can .
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How To Choose A Prenatal Vitamin
Choosing which prenatal vitamin to take can feel like an overwhelming task, but the most important thing to remember is simply that you should take one. Prenatals are an essential part of a healthy pregnancy and there are lots of options to discuss with your doctor are having trouble deciding which is best for you.
Below are the recommended guidelines for key vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists.