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 James Grifo, M.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.
What Ingredients Absolutely Must Be In Your Prenatal Vitamins
The most important vitamin in your prenatal vitamin is folic acid, which you need before and during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. Prenatal vitamins contain at least 400 mcg of folic acid. Folic acid is vitamin B9 and is naturally occurring in some foods such as:
Folic acid is crucial for growth, especially for the development of the spinal cord and brain. These tissues can develop in the fetus before you even know you are pregnant, and so it is recommended to start this vitamin at least a month before conceiving. Sometimes pregnancy happens unexpectedly, so some people of reproductive age may take a prenatal vitamin in the chance they do become pregnant.
Benefits Of Taking Prenatal Vitamins
The right prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements can help you maintain your own health during pregnancy and minimize certain risks for your child. Taking prenatal vitamins from the start can provide the following important benefits:
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Tips For Taking Prenatal Vitamins
Depending on which prenatal vitamin you have chosen, you may take it once a day or multiple times per day. Follow the instructions provided to gain the maximum benefits. For example, many vitamins work best when taken with water and on an empty stomach. You may be advised not to eat for about an hour after taking the vitamin.
The Right Picks To Take You Through Your Pregnancy Journey
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about womens health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.
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Verywell / Sabrina Jiang
Nutrient needs are increased during pregnancy to support the growth and development of the fetus while also supporting the health of the mother. But with so many prenatal vitamins out there, how do you make the right choice? It is important to make sure prenatal supplements have been tested by third-party labs and offer maximum transparency to consumers.
A prenatal vitamin is a multivitamin that is designed with pregnancy and breastfeeding in mind. The number of vitamins and minerals in these supplements are safe and appropriate when trying to conceive, during pregnancy, and postpartum while you are breastfeeding. Some specialized prenatal vitamins may also have other pregnancy-related additives, including DHA .
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Do I Have To Take Prenatal Vitamins
Some mothers choose not to take prenatal vitamins. They may stick to previous multivitamins, which should be done after clearing them with their practitioner. An example of things to look for would be the amount of vitamin A in your supplement. While evidence is not conclusive, some researchers believe that too much vitamin A can potentially cause birth defects.
Other mothers find that switching to children’s vitamins eases some of the complaints about the prenatal vitamins. They may also come in a variety of styles. The chewable vitamins or gummy type vitamins are an option.
Whatever vitamins you take, it’s recommended that they provide at least 400 micrograms of folic acid.
When Do You Need Prenatal Vitamins
The best time to start incorporating prenatal supplements is before conception for all women of childbearing age, not on birth control. The folate content greatly lowers the risks of neural tube conditions such as spina bifida. A fetuss neural tube develops into the spinal cord and the brain within the first month of pregnancy. Spine formation in the womb occurs even before you notice youre expectant. Thus, folate is essential for the babys neural tube development.
Thats why most specialists recommend that you start taking supplements as soon as you notice youre pregnant. Others will recommend that you begin consumption at least a month or two before pregnancy. A study from 2016 showed that a whopping 45 percent of pregnancies within the US are unintended.
Taking prenatal vitamins at least three months before pregnancy will prevent a host of problems such as preterm labor, congenital defects, miscarriages, and so on. Keep taking prenatal vitamins post-delivery, more specifically when breastfeeding.
You dont need to take prenatal vitamins if youre not expectant and youre on birth control.
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Are There Any Side Effects Of Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins, especially if they contain iron, can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as:
Many parents may already experience these symptoms from pregnancy. But, its important to talk with your healthcare provider if youre experiencing any unusual symptoms and you think your supplement could be to blame.
Look For An Independent Seal Of Approval
Several groups independently verify dietary supplements using rigorous criteria. If youd like extra reassurance that your supplement meets high standards, look for seals from the following organizations:
However, keep in mind that getting approval from one of these groups is a voluntary, not required, step for manufacturers. So if your prenatal vitamin isnt marked with one of these seals, it doesnt necessarily mean its not good. Bottom line: If youre at all concerned about the quality of the supplement youre taking, talk to your doctor.
When Should I Start Taking A Prenatal Vitamin
The best time to begin taking prenatal vitamins is before you conceive. The folate in a prenatal vitamin taken before conception significantly reduces the chances of neural tube irregularities like spina bifida.
A babys neural tube, which will develop into both the brain and spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy. That could happen before you even realize youre pregnant.
If you arent already taking a daily prenatal vitamin, start taking one as soon as you find out youre expecting. Youll continue taking your prenatal vitamin every day during your pregnancy.
Your doctor might also recommend you continue to take prenatal vitamins after delivery, especially if you decide to breastfeed.
If you have pregnancy complications or other health concerns, your doctor might recommend a prescription prenatal supplement. Otherwise, over-the-counter vitamins are available at the pharmacy or online.
While there are many brands available, youll want to choose a prenatal vitamin that includes:
Most pregnant people dont get enough choline, so its important to include choline-rich foods like egg yolks in your diet or take a supplement that contains this vital nutrient.
Choline is important for your health and is essential for fetal brain development and placental function.
Some supplements also contain DHA, which is important for your babys brain tissue growth and function especially during the third trimester.
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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Conception Fertility Prenatal Best Prenatal Vitamins Before Pregnancy
Many women ask the question of when to take prenatal vitamins. Taking prenatal vitamins before pregnancy can be extremely beneficial and is strongly recommended whenever possible.
So, if you are trying to conceive or know that you may become pregnant, taking a vitamin beforehand can actually prove to be invaluable for you and your baby. If you are looking for the best vitamins before pregnancy, we love these CONCEPTION Fertility Prenatal vitamins that are actually designed specifically for that!
Why We Love Them:
These are one of the best prenatal vitamins before pregnancy for multiple reasons. They do help to boost your fertility and likelihood of conception. However, what we really love is how beneficial that they actually are to the baby you are hoping to soon conceive. These contain folate as methylfoalte rather than folic acid. Not only that, but they contain an impressive 800mcg of it!
Thats actually double the minimum recommended dose during pregnancy and definitely more than what most of the prenatal vitamins out there have. The reason that it is so important to actually have this high amount of folate in your system before you become pregnant is because something like a neural tube defect would occur so early on in development, that it is perfectly likely you may not even know your pregnant before it happens.
Fertility Boosting Blend:
Which Foods Are Rich In Folate
As mentioned above, you can get folate from your diet, although youll still want to take a prenatal even if you eat a lot of folate-rich foodsyou never know when a wave of pregnancy nausea will hit and your once-favorite spinach salads suddenly sound revolting. But if youre curious, heres a list of the top foods for folate, according to the USDA:
- Beef liver, braised, 3 ounces: 215 micrograms per serving
- Spinach, boiled, ½ cup: 131 mcg per serving
- Black eyed peas, boiled, ½ cup: 105 mcg per serving
- Fortified breakfast cereals, 1 cup: 100mcg per serving
- Rice, white, medium-grain, cooked, ½ cup: 90 mcg per serving
- Asparagus, boiled, 4 spears: 89 mcg per serving
- Brussels sprouts, frozen, boiled, ½ cup: 78 mcg per serving
- Spaghetti, cooked, enriched, ½ cup: 74 mcg per serving
- Lettuce, romaine, shredded, 1 cup: 64 mcg per serving
- Avocado, raw, sliced, ½ cup: 59 mcg per serving
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Smarty Pants Prenatal Formula
Gummy vitamins aren’t just for kids. They’re for pregnant women too, especially when they’re packed with 18 essential vitamins that all have a part in promoting fetal growth. These gummies in particular pack 290 mcg of iodine, which Dr. Woodus says is essential for healthy brain development.
Since the recommended intake of it is 220 mcg, these chewy vitamins can help you meet your daily requirement. The CDC recommends taking iodine while breastfeeding as iodine deficiencies may put infants at risk of cognitive and psychomotor impairments.
Why Trust Verywell Family
As a Registered Dietitian, Sydney Greene takes supplement recommendations seriously. Every product has been researched and vetted by her against clinical research, product reviews, and third-party testing websites. These are products she would not only feel comfortable recommending to her clients but she would take them herself if needed.
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Getting The Best For Your Baby
Keeping yourself healthy while carrying a child is no mean feat. Eating well, staving off cravings, getting some light exercise and ensuring that you and your baby are getting the right nutrition can be stressful, which is why we believe in Better Health Made Simple.
If youre looking for the best solution to optimize your health before conception, while youre pregnant or even after birth, you can rely on Vitamart.ca to bring you the best prenatal multivitamins from the most reputable brands at the lowest prices. Well support you and your baby every step of the way by helping you achieve better health the easy way.
Looking for the best way to support your babys development? Check out our full range of prenatal vitamins today, and get fast and free shipping on orders over $59.
Prenatal Vitamins Supplement Not Replace A Balanced Diet
Any balanced diet will contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, but you should still take a prenatal vitamin to make sure that you are getting enough of the nutrients your body and your baby needs. Additionally, since prenatal vitamins are formulated with the idea that the person taking them is eating a healthy diet, there is no need to seek out additional vitamin supplements in any form, be it a pill, diet drink, or fortified smoothie. Be sure to let your doctor know if you use any of these products so you can be certain you are not getting too much of a good thing.
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When Do I Need To Start Taking Prenatal Vitaminsand For How Long
Ideally, you should start as soon as you begin trying to conceive, Dr. Ruiz says. Your baby will need those extra nutrients from the moment of conception, Dr. Ruiz explains.
You should start taking prenatal vitamins several months before you conceive.
It’s best to make sure your system is well stocked for several months before you conceive, Dr. White adds. Continue to take them throughout your pregnancy and afterward, for as long as you’re breastfeeding, Dr. Ruiz advises.
Talk To Your Health Care Provider
Avoid taking several different supplements unless under a health care providers supervision instead take one multivitamin that includes a variety of needed nutrients in one dose. Combining supplements can raise concerns because you run the risk of overdosing on a particular nutrient.
Taking more than 100% the RDA of any nutrient should be avoided during pregnancy unless under the direction of your health care provider. If your typical daily diet consists of unprocessed foods, fruits, a colorful variety of vegetables, whole grains, lentils, and plenty of water, then you will likely have sufficient vitamins and minerals already in your body.As long as you are eating a well-balanced diet, you need not fear of overdosing on nutrients found naturally in foods . However, supplementssynthetic vitamins and mineralsare a different story. They contain higher doses in concentrated form, which can be dangerous if taken in improper amounts.
Always let your health care provider know what prenatal vitamins you are taking. Consider taking your supplement bottles with you to your first prenatal visit. Prenatal vitamins can be helpful ways of including vital nutrients in your daily meals. Vitamins and minerals are essential to the healthy development of your baby, as well as your own physical health.
Be sure to speak with your health care provider about nutrition before you conceive if you are planning to get pregnant in the near future, or as soon as you know you are pregnant.
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