What Are Prenatal Vitamins And When Should I Start Taking Them
Prenatal vitamins are specifically designed to support the increased nutritional demands of pregnancy on a persons body, and to make sure that theres an adequate supply of key nutrients available during fetal development to optimize the babys health as well.
One example of this is folate. Folate needs increase during pregnancy, and the babies born from people who dont get enough are at increased risk of debilitating spinal cord abnormalities like spina bifida.
You can start taking prenatals as soon as you decide that youre ready to start trying to have a baby. In fact, lots of people choose to take prenatals as their multivitamins all throughout their child-bearing years, just because they provide a good balance of nutrients to support fertility, pregnancy, postpartum needs, and optimal health.
What Are Prenatal Vitamins And Why Are They So Beneficial
In an ideal world, a pregnant mother would get all of her nutrients from food. But as Sakara cofounder Danielle DuBoise, who developed the wellness brands new The Foundation: Prenatal while pregnant, underlines, thats not realistic. No one eats perfectly 100% of the time, says DuBoise, citing research that the average American is lacking essential nutrients in their daily diet. So for most people, supplementation is critical.
According to Manhattan-based nutritionist , prenatal supplements can fill in any nutrient gaps caused by our modern, hectic lifestyles, or particular tastes, which result in consuming less than an adequate amount of the nutrients we need on a daily basis. Think of it as an insurance policy that youre getting enough of the nutrients you need to support a healthy pregnancy, for baby and mom alike, she says. Similarly, Shepherd encourages her expectant patients to consider taking a prenatal vitamin as building up a reserve. Because the baby gets all the nutrients it needs directly from mama, its easy to become deficient in vitamins she explains. A well-rounded balance of vitamins and nutrients during pregnancy will help mom provide the nutrients needed, as well as help the baby do things, such as form vital organs and body systems.
Do I Have To Take A Prenatal Vitamin
Yes, you really should take a prenatal vitamin. The thing is, finding one that has the least amount of side effects. Some are so huge that you just start gagging the moment you pick up the bottle. Others can make you nauseous and have no appetite. Upset stomachs, diarrhea, and dark stools are also common side effects.
Some women opt out of prenatal vitamins and instead focus on the foods that would provide their little passenger with the best environment to grow, while keeping momma healthy and strong throughout the pregnancy and beyond.
There are many women are completely unable to take folic acid, which makes it difficult because folic acid is one of the main reasons prenatal vitamins are encouraged. The MTHFR gene, something everyone has, is meant to break down folic acid into folate and distribute it across your body. Folate makes your DNA, repairs your RNA, as well as produces your red blood cells. Its a pretty important process.
Sometimes, this MTHFR gene is mutated, which then doesnt allow your body to turn folic acid into folate, thus causing all sorts of pregnancy complications. If you test positive for the mutated MTHFR, then your prenatal vitamin should include L-methylfolate instead of folic acid.
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Dont Put All Your Irons In The Fire
According to Swick, iron is NOT a necessity for every single pregnant person. Each woman should have her practitioner run and review a complete iron panel, she explains, continuing, If she needs iron, look for an iron bisglycinate to better tolerate and absorb it. But if your iron status is OK, youll be fine with an iron-free pre.
What Are The Best Prenatal Vitamins To Take
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If you want to give your baby the best head start in life, good nutrition during pregnancy is essential. While you cant beat getting vitamins and minerals from fresh foods, supplements can be useful to keep nutrition levels topped up. However, with so many different pregnancy vitamins available, how can you tell which ones you should be taking?
Here, youll discover everything you need to know about prenatal vitamins and the best ones you can take to keep you and baby healthy.
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Other Vitamins And Nutrients
Aside from folic acid, several other key nutrients can benefit pregnant and breastfeeding women and developing fetuses. These include:
Iron: Pregnant women need about twice the usual recommended amount of the mineral iron. Iron is another crucial component in red blood cells. Pregnant women who do not get enough iron may develop iron-deficiency anemia.
Zinc: Supports the immune system and helps the body make proteins, divide cells, and synthesize DNA for new cells.
Vitamin B-12: Helps the body make healthy red blood cells and neurons, which are the specialized cells found in the spinal cord and brain. B-12 also helps these cells to function properly.
Calcium and vitamin D: Work together to help develop fetal bones and teeth. Vitamin D is also crucial for healthy eye and skin development. Calcium may reduce the risk of preeclampsia, a leading cause of illness and death in pregnant women, and newborns.
Vitamin A: Helps cells grow and differentiate, contributing to the healthy development of vision and many vital organs.
Iodine: A trace element essential for the development of the central nervous system, brain, and skeletal system. Severe iodine deficiencies in pregnant women may slow fetal growth or cause neurodevelopmental defects, stillbirth, or miscarriage.
Who Should Take A Prenatal Vitamin
In general, prenatal vitamins are designed specifically for women who are pregnant or trying to conceive. While you can try getting the recommended nutrients for healthy pregnancy just through food, that involves a lot of researching and tracking. Supplementing with prenatal vitamins gives you peace of mind that youre more likely to be getting the recommended amounts of nutrients on a daily basis, especially on days when your diet is not so great.
Do talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements youre taking or planning to take.
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Folic Acid Before And During Pregnancy
Its important to take a 400 micrograms folic acid tablet every day before you’re pregnant and until you’re 12 weeks pregnant.
Folic acid can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida.
If you did not take folic acid before you conceived, you should start as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.
Try to eat green leafy vegetables which contain folate and breakfast cereals and fat spreads with folic acid added to them.
It’s difficult to get the amount of folate recommended for a healthy pregnancy from food alone, which is why it’s important to take a folic acid supplement.
Rainbow Light Prenatal Daily Duo
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Ingredients: Rainbow Light Daily Duo is a two-pill system that contains a daily prenatal multivitamin and a DHA supplement. The daily multivitamin contains a complete profile of the necessary vitamins and minerals needed during pregnancy. The DHA delivers targeted omega-3 fatty acids.
What we like: This blend is designed just for pregnant women. LuckyVitamin reviewers liked that the product came recommended by professionals and was easy on the stomach when taken during the first trimester.
What to consider: If youre not interested in taking multiple pills daily, this may not be the right fit for your prenatal vitamin regimen.
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Where To Get Pregnancy Supplements
You can get supplements from pharmacies and supermarkets, or a GP may be able to prescribe them for you.
If you want to get your folic acid from a multivitamin tablet, make sure the tablet does not contain vitamin A .
You may be able to get free vitamins if you qualify for the Healthy Start scheme.
Find out more about the Healthy Start scheme.
Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All
Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin that is important for pregnant women. Folic acid may help prevent major birth defects of the fetuss brain and spine called neural tube defects .
When you are pregnant you need 600 micrograms of folic acid each day. Because its hard to get this much folic acid from food alone, you should take a daily prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms starting at least 1 month before pregnancy and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Women who have had a child with an NTD should take 4 milligrams of folic acid each day as a separate supplement at least 3 months before pregnancy and for the first 3 months of pregnancy. You and your ob-gyn or other obstetric care provider can discuss whether you need to supplement with more than 400 micrograms daily.
Iron is used by your body to make the extra blood that you and your fetus need during pregnancy. Women who are not pregnant need 18 mg of iron per day. Pregnant women need more, 27 mg per day. This increased amount is found in most prenatal vitamins.
Calcium is a mineral that builds your fetuss bones and teeth. Women who are age 18 or younger need 1,300 mg of calcium per day. Women who are 19 or older need 1,000 mg per day.
Give you energy
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The Best Organic Prenatal Vitamins
These are definitely not the cheapest prenatal vitamins on our list at just over a dollar a day. Nor are they the easiest to swallow. You have to take three large pills per day, and that may feel like too much for some people. But if you’re looking for an organic, GMO-free, vegan option, the MyKind Organics Prenatal Multivitamins from Garden of Life checks off all three boxes.
Garden of Life prides itself on using carefully sourced ingredients, and these multivitamins are USDA certified organic and non-GMO project verified.
I find that these vitamins don’t cause the kind of stomach upset many other varieties caused. Since the dose comes in three pills instead of one, you can spread the three pills out across the day in case you’re a bit sensitive. That’s what I did, and I felt great while taking these. After testing so many brands, I’m planning to go back on the MyKind Organics Prenatal Multivitamins next.
Pros: USDA certified organic, non-GMO project verified
Cons: Pricey, can be difficult to swallow
Why Arent All Prenatal Vitamins Created Equally
When designing products, vitamin manufacturers are striking a balance between three priorities: 1) minimizing their production cost, 2) making a product thats as easy to take and marketable to consumers as possible, and 3) making a product that is nutritionally comprehensive.
A nutritionally complete supplement requires using more nutrients, that are of higher quality . The best nutrient forms that are well-absorbed by the body tend to have a larger molecule size than less usable forms, making the higher quality ones more difficult to fit into a one-a-day pill. And, the more nutrients included, the more complicated the marketing story becomes. As a result, manufacturers often prioritize cost, ease of use, and ease of marketing at the expense of nutritional completeness.
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What Are The Key Nutrients You Should Look For In A Prenatal Vitamin
Like we mentioned above, ACOG, the leading body of OB-GYNs, says these are the most important nutrients your body needs before and during pregnancy:
- 600 micrograms of folate to support fetal neural tube development 400 of which should come from prenatal vitamins.*
- 27 milligrams of ironto form red blood cells and hemoglobin the protein in your blood that transports oxygen from your lungs throughout the body.*
- 450 mg of choline to support fetal neurodevelopment.*
- 85 mg of vitamin C to promote the growth of all connective tissue and a healthy immune system.*
- 770 mcg of vitamin A to support fetal eye development and good vision, as well as a healthy immune system.*
- 1.9 mg of vitamin B6 to boost your energy while you’re pregnant.*
- 2.6 mcg of vitamin B12 to help keep the central nervous system on track.*
- 220 mcg of iodine to help with developing a healthy fetal brain and maintaining thyroid health.*
- 1,000 mg of calcium to strengthen fetal teeth and bones.
- 600 international units of vitamin D3 to promote bone health and improve immune function for you and the fetus.*
- Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA to help with retina and fetal brain development.*
On top of the above list, vegetarians need to keep track of their intake of iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, choline, and vitamin B12 because they’re often not getting enough from food alone and vegans are sometimes deficient in calcium as well.
How We Chose The Products On This List
We personally tested many brands of different prenatal vitamins throughout various stages of conception and pregnancy. We also drew on past personal experiences with issues such as nausea and vomiting in pregnancy and investigated common concerns and complaints with prenatal vitamins among pregnant women, like bad taste and smell.
We read the current scientific literature and consulted with medical professionals as well. The doctors quoted throughout this piece include three different OB-GYNs as well as a registered dietitian who reviewed product selections and consulted with us on what to look for, as well as what to avoid, in prenatal vitamins.
When considering various options, we looked for:
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What Should I Avoid During Pregnancy
You may hear that you can do everything in moderation during your pregnancy. Of course, there are some things that are best if they are completely avoided such as cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol.
Avoid things like:
- Fish high in mercury. Tuna, swordfish, and mackerel are prime examples.
- Raw fish like sushi is best not eaten until after youve given birth.
- Raw or undercooked meats. Serve your burgers and steaks medium, at least until youve had your baby.
- Raw eggs such as poached, lightly scrambled, salad dressings like Caesar, raw cake and cookie batter, and cake frosting.
- Only eat organ meat like liver once per week.
- Keep your caffeine intake to a minimum, it stays in the placenta longer than it does in the rest of your body.
- Avoid raw sprouts like alfalfa and bean, they have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella.
- Make sure to wash all your produce very well to reduce the risk of contamination from salmonella, e.Coli, and Listeria.
- Only drink pasteurized juices and milk.
- Keep the junk food to a minimum.
For a prenatal vitamin that will deliver all the nutrients you need to support the healthiest pregnancy possible, visit our Prenatal Pod page.
The Tespo Connect will perfectly mix your prenatal vitamin at the push of a button.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The Best Prenatal Vitamins For Hair Growth : Recommended For 2021
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Do Prenatal Vitamins Have Any Side Effects
The ingredient thats most likely to cause gastrointestinal side effects is iron, which may cause indigestion and constipation. There are different iron preparations available, so women who experience these effects with one vitamin may want to try a different vitamin that has a slower-release form of iron.
Other vitamins dont necessarily have side effects, but may be harmful if too much is ingested. Too much vitamin A can have harmful effects on the fetus, but is fine when taken as beta-carotene, a plant-based precursor thats safe. Too much iodine and fat-soluble vitamins may also be harmful.
Finally, prenatal vitamins that pack in all these nutrients may be bigsome women find them hard to swallow and they may cause gagging. Using a chewable alternative may be an option.
This advice applies to most low-risk women and pregnancies. There are certain cases , where the nutritional needs are different. These women should contact their prenatal care providers about the best regimen of nutritional supplement to use.
Jonathan Schaffir is an ob/gyn at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and a professor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
Diet Standards Prenatal Dha
This is not a multivitamin, but a specially formulated omega-3 supplement, which a person can take with a multivitamin.
The supplement is algae-based, 100% vegan, and free from gluten, soy, and sugar. Every batch is lab-tested by a third party for purity, potency, microbial contents, and heavy metals, the makers say.
Online reviewers compliment the supplement and the companys professionalism, while others express concern over the quality of the product on delivery.
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