What Is A Prenatal Vitamin
A prenatal vitamin is a supplement designed to provide nutrients and minerals needed for a healthy pregnancy. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists notes taking a prenatal vitamin and eating nutritious foods should provide a person with all the vitamins and minerals they need during pregnancy.
A prenatal vitamin is important for pregnant people, as the growing fetus requires certain nutrients that can be hard to get through diet alone.
Fetal development is rapid and requires a lot of metabolismits dependent on the proper amount of amino acids and nutrients, says Forbes Health Advisory Board member and OB-GYN James Grifo, M.D., Ph.D., the program director at NYU Langone Fertility Center in New York City and chief executive physician at Inception Fertility.
ACOG recommends pregnant people consume certain amounts of calcium to help build strong bones and teeth, iron to help red blood cells deliver oxygen to the fetus, iodine and choline to aid in brain development and folic acid to help prevent birth defects. Additionally, it recommends vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D, which provide benefits that range from promoting healthy skin and eyesight to the formation of red blood cells. While much of these nutrients can be obtained through a healthy diet, a prenatal vitamin provides the extra assurance your daily nutrition needs are met, no matter whats on the menu.
Where Does Dha Come From/why Supplement
DHA can be found in a variety of fish and seafood, including salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies. However, studies show that 95% of pregnant women in the United States dont consume the recommended daily intake of key omega-3s, which is why supplementation might be necessary.
Pregnant women who do not enjoy seafood or who are vegan are more likely to be deficient in omega-3s, which is why their physician might recommend that they take a prenatal vitamin with DHA to help fill that gap.
What Is Folic Acid
Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. Taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects . Some studies show that taking folic acid may help prevent heart defects and birth defects in your babys mouth .
- Before pregnancy take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid every day.
- Take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid each day, even if youre not trying to get pregnant.
- During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin each day that has 600 mcg of folic acid in it.
Check the product label to see how much folic acid is in it.
If youre at high risk for having a baby with an NTD, talk to your provider about how you can safely take 4,000 mcg of folic acid each day to help prevent an NTD. Start taking 4,000 mcg at least 3 months before you get pregnant and through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Youre at high risk if:
- Youve had a pregnancy with an NTD in the past.
- You or your partner has an NTD.
- Your partner has a child with an NTD.
Dont take several multivitamins or prenatal vitamins. You can get too much of other nutrients, which may be harmful to your health. Your provider can help you figure out the best and safest way for you to get the right amount of folic acid.
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Associations Between Maternal And Infant Fatty Acids
The mothers DHA status in pregnancy was positively correlated with the infants DHA status at three , but not at six or twelve months of age. There were also significant positive correlations between the infants DHA status at three and six months of age, while the infants 12-month DHA level was not correlated with the infants DHA status at either three or six months of age. There were no differences between the groups recruited pre- and post-natally, in either the mothers or the infants fatty acids status .
What Is Dha And Why Is It Important During Pregnancy
Before we get into our favorite prenatal vitamins with DHA, lets first address what DHA is and the importance of taking it during pregnancy.
DHA is short for docosahexaenoic acid, which is one of the three major omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a critical part of your cell membranes and are involved with a multitude of processes in the body, including supporting brain, heart, and eye health.
Omega-3s are found everywhere in the body, but DHA is especially prominent in the brain and the eyes, which is why they play such an important role in supporting your brain and vision health. Additionally, research has shown that there are extra health benefits linked to DHA for pregnant women.
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Better Living Starts With Iwi Life
We know how much is on your plate when it comes to making sure your baby gets the nutrients they need. It doesnt have to be complicated. Get a great head start with the right prenatal vitamins and DHA supplements.
Our algae omega-3 supplements can make a great addition to your healthcare plan in supporting the health of both you and your baby.
Whether youre looking for a prenatal vitamin, a DHA supplement, or ways to increase your health and achieve your wellness goals, we have something for everyone.
Better living starts now, and its easier than ever. Ready to have the healthy pregnancy you deserve? Take a look at our current product offers for ways to help maintain your healthy body during pregnancy and in the years to come.
VP of Research and Development at iwi
Key Nutrients In A Prenatal Vitamin
Prenatal vitamins contain a wide range of nutrients, targeting the specific vitamin and mineral needs to support a healthy pregnancy. “I look for the active form of the B vitamins folate and methylcobalamin . I also look for iodine, choline, and adequate amounts of vitamin D,” says Kristin Brown BSc, RD, who owns Grounded Health Nutrition and Wellness.
These are some of the top nutrients to look for in a prenatal vitamin and their different forms:
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Should You Take A Prenatal Dha Supplement
In the US, most people dont consume enough omega-3 fatty acids through their diet. Mainly, its because traditional Western diets are lacking in seafood and foods that deliver healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and seeds.
In fact, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that two thirds of Americans had low omega-3 serum levels, which includes DHA.
Naturally, it can be a good idea to try a DHA supplement if you suspect that your diet is lacking.
If youre pregnant, taking additional DHA is highly encouraged. However, it can be difficult to get enough DHA through diet alone, especially if you are avoiding high-mercury fish.
As mentioned earlier, DHA plays a critical role in the healthy brain and eye development in babies. After pregnancy, DHA levels can remain low, so supplementing can help you meet your bodys requirements during the postpartum period.
The fishy odor and aftertaste can be a major downside to taking a DHA supplement especially when dealing with morning sickness. During HUMs research and development process, they found that taking DHA separate from a prenatal multivitamin can help prevent the fishy unpleasantries that can happen with algae-based supplements. Fortunately, HUMs Womb Service Step 2 DHA supplement is odorless and flavorless.
How Much Dha Should You Take
So, now you know about some of the great benefits DHA has to offer for you and your baby. But how much should you take?
Most health organizations recommend a lower amount of DHA, around 200 milligrams, even though there’s evidence to suggest that a higher amount offers more benefits. The average intake recommended ranges from 200 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams daily.
There are known long-term side effects of decreased DHA intake during your pregnancy. Although research is limited regarding pregnant women, research suggests that decreased DHA during pregnancy may compromise your babys growth.
Evidence suggests that there arent benefits found in taking more than 1,000 milligrams a day. There isnt enough evidence to suggest if there are any risks to taking too much.
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How We Chose Our Recommendations
We curated this list of DHA supplements based on input from OB-GYNs and registered dieticians. The products included are also affordable, and except for one, are available over the counter.
Keep in mind, if youre taking a prenatal vitamin with DHA, an additional DHA-only supplement may not be necessary. Consult your healthcare provider for more information on whats right for you.
Here some prenatal vitamins and supplements to consider when pregnant.
Why Do Pregnant Women Need High Levels Of Folic Acid Iron And Calcium
Taking folic acid can reduce your risk of having a baby with a serious birth defect of the brain and spinal cord, called the “neural tube.” A baby with spina bifida, the most common neural tube defect, is born with a spine that is not completely developed. The exposed nerves are damaged, leaving the child with varying degrees of paralysis, incontinence and sometimes learning disabilities. Some women are at an increased risk for having a baby with an open neural tube defect. These women include, but are not limited to, those with a family history of spina bifida and those taking anti-epileptic medicines. ACOG recommends additional folic acid for women at an increased risk for having a baby with a neural tube defect. Your doctor can discuss this with you and, in some instances, refer you for genetic counseling.
Neural tube defects develop in the first 28 days after conception. Because about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, the U.S. Public Health Service recommends that all women of childbearing age get 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. There are natural sources of folic acid: green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, and citrus fruits. It’s also found in many fortified breakfast cereals and some vitamin supplements.
Taking calcium during pregnancy can prevent a new mother from losing her own bone density as the fetus uses the mineral for bone growth. Taking iron helps both the mother and baby’s blood carry oxygen.
Nutrients Often Missing In Prenatal Supplements
Most prenatals contain all or most of the micronutrients neededduring pregnancy.
However, many prenatals fall short in a few areas, which is why its important to do your research before purchasing a prenatal supplement.
In particular, prenatal supplements are often lacking in these nutrients that are important during pregnancy (
- omega-3 DHA and EPA
Since each pregnancy is unique, your doctor or a registered dietitian may suggest a specific prenatal supplement based on your health needs.
More About Fatty Acids
Foods that provide omega-3 fatty acids include fish oil and certain plant and nut oils, while omega-6 fatty acids can be found in palm, soybean, rapeseed and sunflower oils. Fish oil contains two omega-3 fatty acidsDHA and eicosapentaenoic acid . Some nuts, seeds and vegetable oils contain alpha-linolenic acid , which may be converted to DHA and EPA in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids can provide a wide range of health benefits, including a lower risk of coronary heart disease and improvement in cholesterol levels. There have also been promising results from studies looking at omega-3 for cancer, depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder .
Due to these potential health benefits, fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, has become a popular supplement.
There is evidence that recommended amounts of DHA and EPA, taken as fish or fish oil supplements, may lower triglycerides and reduce the risk of heart attack, abnormal heartbeat, and stroke in people who have heart disorders. DHA and EPA may also benefit people who have hardening of the arteries or high blood pressure.
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When Can A Prenatal Dha Be Taken
It is best to use prenatal DHA as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. It is important to read all medication guides or instruction sheets that accompany the product you have purchased. The time of day of when to take it can be once in the morning and once in the evening, either with or after a meal.
You may need to follow a special diet while taking prenatal DHA. It is important to follow all instructions of your doctor or dietician.
Choosing Your Prenatal Vitamins
As a society we are led to believe that taking a prenatal vitamin during pregnancy will provide all the nutrients needed for a happy and healthy birth outcome. Although most prenatal vitamins do provide calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B1 , vitamin B5 , vitamin B6 , vitamin B7 , vitamin B9 or folate, vitamin B12 , vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin D, there are three critical nutrients that your prenatal may lack, or be missing entirely. In other words, there is no such thing as a perfect prenatal vitamin that can meet all of your prenatal needs.
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Dha Included Or Taken Separately
One of the biggest considerations when looking for a prenatal vitamin with DHA is whether the formula contains DHA within it, or you are required to take your DHA supplement separately. Theres no right or wrong way to supplement with DHA, but the convenience will certainly play a role here. For many pregnant women, its hard enough to get their regular prenatal vitamins down each day let alone swallow an additional capsule or two. If you dont have a problem with downing several pills each day, a separated prenatal and DHA system will be just fine. However, if you want to keep your capsules to a minimum, find a formula that includes DHA.
What Vitamins Need To Be In Them
Its important to remember that each person has slightly different nutritional needs based on genetics and any pre-existing health conditions. Always check with your provider about your specific needs for a prenatal, and if you’re a vegetarian or vegan during pregnancy, be sure to tell your doctor to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients.
That said, the following vitamins and minerals, listed here with the recommended daily amount , are considered must-haves during pregnancy. You can get many of these nutrients in your diet, but prenatal vitamins are meant to fill in any gaps. Note that while you shouldnt expect your prenatal to contain full RDAs of every single ingredient listed, they should have decent doses of the following:
You may also want to consider these extras when selecting a prenatal vitamin:
- DHA: Regular prenatal vitamins may not contain DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in many types of fish. DHA may aid in babys brain development, both before and after birth. If youre unable to get the recommended two to three servings of pregnancy-safe fatty fish per week, ask your doctor if you should take a supplement.
- Other nutrients: You might also see several other additions on the label such as copper, choline, thiamin, vitamin B12, magnesium and ginger or vitamin B6 .
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Do Your Prenatal Vitamins Have To Contain Dha
DHA supplements could make a good addition to your prenatal vitamins. Check in with your healthcare provider before taking additional supplements if you have any questions or concerns.
Prenatal vitamins do not always contain DHA, so its up to you how you want to incorporate it into your diet. Luckily, iwi provides both DHA supplements and prenatal vitamins in an easy-to-swallow format.
In fact, we have a whole range of supplements that can help support a variety of your wellness goals. Whether you aim to maintain your brain or eye health, are seeking to include omega-3s in your diet, or are looking to support your cholesterol, iwi has options.
Why Not Just Recommend Higher Dha Intake To Everyone And Not Test
There are already pregnancy recommendations for fish intake of 812 oz per week and a recommendation for 200 mg/day DHA from supplements , but as described above, these are apparently not being met. Based on the results from ORIP and ADORE, these recommendations may increase to 800 mg/day DHA or more, but the issue of motivation still remains. While these are important endorsements, the lingering effects of the FDAs fish toxicity guidelines for pregnant women may have made women hesitant to eat fish during pregnancy . However, if a simple blood test could show that DHA levels are low, and this can be linked to increased risk for ePT birth , then such information could provide the necessary motivation to consume more DHA, whether via fish or supplements. Furthermore, testing blood levels also allows practitioners to understand their patients risk and encourages healthy dietary practices that could have lasting effects on their children and themselves .
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Why Trust Verywell Family
Casey Seiden is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes care and education specialist based in New York City. Casey works at Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates, the premier maternal-fetal medicine practice in Manhattan, where she provides nutrition therapy and counseling to women with high-risk pregnancies. She is also the founder of Casey Seiden Nutrition, a virtual private practice specializing in a non-diet approach to diabetes care and womens health.
Nordic Naturals Prenatal Dha
With simple-to-swallow softgels, Nordic Naturals has another another fantastic product. For moms who might be dealing with a lot of morning sickness in the early stages of pregnancy, the fact that these prenatal supplements are smaller in size than the original prenatal from Nordic makes them simpler to take. As with the majority of Nordics prenatal supplements, it is advised to take two capsules everyday.
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