Prenatal Vitamins: Why Should You Start Taking Them Early
Prenatal vitamins are critical to supporting your babys growth and development and your own bodys changes. However, some prenatal vitamins can cause side effects, such as nausea and constipation. You should always consult your obstetrician/gynecologist before taking prenatal vitamins. They can suggest the best prenatal vitamins with the right dosage limits based on your nutritional needs.
What Are The Different Types Of Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins typically contain folic acid , calcium, iron, iodine, zinc, and vitamins A, E, and C. The ingredients in prenatal vitamins vary depending on the product. Your doctor will recommend the right type of prenatal vitamin or prenatal supplement based on your specific needs.
Possible Prenatal Vitamins Side Effects
The iron in prenatals can cause constipation, and you may also have low appetite, stomach cramps, dark stools, and diarrhea. You can ease your symptoms by:
- Drinking a lot of fluids.
- Eating more food rich in fiber.
- Getting more physical activity.
Other prenatal vitamins side effects that can appear include:
- Back pain.
- Teeth staining.
Let your doctor know if you are taking pain relievers, heart medications, high blood pressure pills, sulfamethoxazole, or diuretics, as these can have negative interactions with prenate pills. Your healthcare provider can advise you on when to start taking prenatal vitamins.
Now, we can move on to the next section: Do prenatals help you get pregnant? where we will address the following question: Do prenatal vitamins make you fertile? and also discuss when to start taking prenatals.
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Types Of Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins can come in many forms , and they can be organic or vegan, as well as prescription or over-the-counter.
While there’s no specific, standard formula for prenatal vitamins , most prenatal vitamins include some formulation of the following key nutrients for you and your baby:
- Calcium: It is unlikely that a prenatal vitamin will contain all of the calcium you need. Pregnant women need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day from all sources as your baby develops its bones, teeth, and muscles.
- DHA : This omega-3 fatty acid is thought to protect against a number of pregnancy-related complications.
- Folic acid: Pregnant women need at least 400 micrograms to 800 micrograms of folic acid daily to prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida.
- Iron: Your body needs twice as much iron as usual during pregnancy to build red cells to bring oxygen to the growing baby.
Other vitamins and minerals found in different types of prenatal vitamins might include:
- Vitamin A: helps form healthy skin and eyestoo much vitamin A can cause birth defects, so be sure that you’re using a prenatal vitamin or a multi-vitamin with under 10,000 international units
- Vitamin C: helps you with tissue repair and wound healing and your baby with the development of bones and teeth
- Vitamin D: helps the body absorb calcium and helps build the baby’s bones and teeth
- Iodine: helps the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system
- Zinc: helps to reduce preterm births
Can You Take Prenatal Vitamins If Youre Not Pregnant
One of the top questions on a patients mind is: Can you take prenatal vitamins if youre not pregnant?
If youre planning to get pregnant you can start taking folic acid supplements. Half of the United States pregnancies are unplanned, so prenatals can protect your pregnancy from complications, as some defects can appear in the early stages of the pregnancy.
However, if you dont want to get pregnant, its best to follow a healthy diet and get the nutrients you need from food. Prenatals can cause adverse effects if you take more than you need to.
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Additional Nutrients In Prenatal Vitamins
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is a necessary vitamin in fetal development and is especially important in eye development, says Dr. Purdie. However, there is a risk of birth defects in the fetus if too much vitamin is consumed in the first 60 days of development, Liskov suggests looking to your prenatal vitamin and your food sources to provide no more than 770 micrograms each day.
- Vitamin C: This vitamin boosts immune health and helps protect your bodys cells from things like pollution, cigarette smoke and ultraviolet sun rays. Although you can consume this vitamin in foods like citrus and bell peppers, consider a prenatal vitamin with 85 micrograms of vitamin C.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These aid in healthy fetal brain development. Often found in fish and nuts, she says many prenatal vitamins include a daily dose of 200 milligrams of docosahexaenoic acid .
Is It Necessary To Take A Prescription Prenatal Vitamin
Prescription prenatals typically contain more folic acid than the over-the-counter varieties, says Wright. But not all moms need the extra dose. One caveat: If youve already given birth to a baby with neural tube defects, your doctor will likely start you on a prescription supplement of folic acid, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor in the department of OB/GYN at the Yale School of Medicine.
In general, over-the-counter prenatals are more than able to cover your nutritional bases just talk to your doctor about which formula is right for you.
One other note here: If cost is a concern to you and you have a good drug plan with your insurance company, you may actually want to ask your doctor about prescription prenatals they may actually be cheaper than OTC options.
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Where To Purchase Prenatal Dietary Supplements
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Vegetarian Vegan And Special Diets In Pregnancy
A varied and balanced vegetarian diet should provide enough nutrients for you and your baby during pregnancy.
But you might find it more difficult to get enough iron and vitamin B12.
Talk to a midwife or doctor about how to make sure you’re getting enough of these important nutrients.
If you’re vegan or you follow a restricted diet because of a food intolerance or for religious reasons, talk to a midwife or GP.
Ask to be referred to a dietitian for advice on how to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need for you and your baby.
Find out more about healthy eating if you’re pregnant and vegetarian or vegan.
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What To Look For In A Prenatal Vitamin
Since you want to support your babys healthy development every step of the way, you can look for top-of-the-line nutrition from high-quality, third-party validated prenatal vitamins. Everything you need to know should be on the label .
- Look for certifications. This tells you that an independent third-party has reviewed and validated the vitamins ingredients.
- Check the daily values of ingredients listed on the Supplement Facts Panel. Does it deliver at least 27 mg of iron, at least 400 mcg of some type of folate, and 15 mcg of vitamin D3? If you are over the age of 35, you can get prenatal vitamins for your life-stage that have higher levels of some nutrients .
- Does the vitamin contain artificial flavors, colors, or added sweeteners? Some types of gummies contain additives and fillers you may not want to consume on a daily basis.
- Is it formulated for absorption? This can include being made with fermented nutrients and whole foods that the body can easily recognize and digest.
- Are there specific directions for when to take it? Some multivitamins are so gentle you can take them anytime, even on an empty stomach.
I’m A Vegetarian Should I Be Taking Any Additional Supplements
“Because vegetarians are not consuming animal products, the nutrients they tend to need are vitamin B12, zinc, iron and omega-3 fatty acids like DHA,” says greene. “Look for supplements that contain these vitamins plus DHA from algae, a vegetarian source, rather than from fish.”
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Prenatal Vitamins Vs Multivitamins
There are some key differences between a prenatal and a typical multivitamin. While different brands vary on which nutrients they emphasize, here is a list of some extra nutrients you would be getting if you chose to take a prenatal over a multivitamin:
- DHA: from fatty fish helps with healthy brain development
- Choline: important for brain function and reducing risk of pregnancy complications
- Folate: commonly included in its synthetic form, folic acid prevents neural tube defects
- Iron: needed to ensure healthy blood function for mother and baby and to prevent anemia
- Iodine: important for proper hormone regulation during pregnancy and thyroid development for baby
- Zinc: important for proper cell and DNA development for baby
What Are The Best Prenatal Vitamins For Me
Finding a good quality prenatal vitamin can be confusing and may contain things that you just plain dont want to take in a vitaminfood dyes, hydrogenated fats, sugar, etc. Thats why I created Prenatal Plus, a complete formulation with active B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Prenatal Plus supports your body while you try to become pregnant, during your entire pregnancy, and while you nurse.
This formulation was also designed to provide comprehensive thyroid support with an ideal balance of iodine and selenium. Insufficient thyroid hormone leads to an increased risk of infertility and miscarriage. And the answer is almost never to just take more iodine.
Prenatal Plus provides amazing support for nutrient depletions caused by hormonal birth control as well.
Finding the best prenatal can feel confusing. There is so much out there on the market that is not regulated, not quality, and isnt delivering the best nutrition. I sometimes also see well intentioned people telling women that they can take vitamins that contain harmful nutrients and herbs as if pregnancy isnt a consideration in supplement selection. A developing baby is susceptible to many things in your environment, so I would encourage you to use caution when selecting supplements.
Lets chat about what the best prenatal vitamins contain.
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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.
When To Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins
The best time to start taking prenatal vitamins is before conception. Folic acid is especially important. You should begin taking a folic acid supplement at least 1 month before you try to get pregnant to prevent birth defects.
Some doctors recommend that all women who could have a baby take prenatal vitamins, even if they dont plan a pregnancy.
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Prenatal Vitamin Side Effects
Some prenatal vitamins can cause nausea in an already nauseated pregnant woman. If that happens to you, talk to your health care provider. They may be able to prescribe a different kind of prenatal vitamin that you dont have to swallow whole. Options include:
The iron in prenatal vitamins may also make you constipated. If youre constipated it can help to:
- Eat a high-fiber diet
- Exercise if your doctor says its safe for you
- Take a stool softener with your doctors OK
Diet And Being Pregnant
You want prenatal nutritional vitamins earlier than being pregnant. Healthy meals is one of the best technique to get the minerals and nutritional vitamins you want in the prenatal stage. However, being pregnant is when a lady wants a particular weight-reduction plan and prenatal care as a result of she might fall quick on key vitamins. If youve got conceived, youll want to select the prenatal nutritional vitamins to fill this hole of prenatal diet. You can select one-a-day girlss prenatal gummies.
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When You Have Decided To Conceive
Once you decide to get pregnant, it is suggested to schedule a wellness visit with your gynecologist, quit smoking, and stop taking birth control pills. You should also start taking prenatal vitamins. It might take weeks or months to conceive, and sometimes, you may not know you are pregnant even after a few weeks of conception.
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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Is It Okay To Take Gummy Prenatal Vitamins
Yes, especially if you have trouble swallowing pills or you cant stomach a horse-sized capsule without triggering another bout of morning sickness.
But there are some drawbacks to prenatal gummies . In general, gummies contain fewer nutrients than the prenatals that come in pill form, says Hillary Wright, R.D., director of nutrition at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF oftentimes, theyre also lacking iron.
Why Prenatal Vitamins Are Important
Prenatal vitamins are like a nutrition safety net that help you maintain the vitamins and minerals your body needs to grow a healthy baby and sustain your pregnancy. They are not a substitute for a healthy diet, however, and work best when supported .
During pregnancy, your body has different needs, requiring more iron, calcium, B vitamins, vitamins A and C, and DHA .
Yet these needs are not exclusive to the nine months of pregnancy, so you would ideally begin taking prenatal vitamins a few months before you wanted to try to conceive. Taking them once you stop using birth control and begin to try in earnest would be beneficial.
One of the most important reasons to take prenatal vitamins prior to pregnancy is to get more folic acid. When taken prior to pregnancy, prenatal vitamins with folic acid can help drastically reduce the incidence of neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly.
Since about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, a multivitaminand, specifically, folic acidis recommended for all women of childbearing age, even when they are not trying to get pregnant.
In addition to preventing neural tube defects, prenatal vitamins have also been found to reduce the risk of:
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