When it comes to prenatal vitamins, there’s a lot of questions with some confusing answers.
Do pregnant women actually need prenatal? If so, how do I find the right one and know which to avoid?
In this post, we’re answering 10 common questions about prenatal vitamins.
#1 Are prenatal Vitamins Really Necessary?
Prenatal vitamins aren’t always necessary, but they’re a good idea to help fill in any requirements you don’t get in your diet.
Prenatals contain a variety of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, D and iron, iodine, calcium, folic acid and more, depending on the brand. Some vitamins, such as A and C, you may get enough of through your regular diet. However, many women find it difficult to get adequate amounts of other nutrients and minerals, such as iron and folic acid, so they take a prenatal to supplement their diet.
Since women’s bodies need more nutrients during pregnancy to prevent birth defects, making sure you have all your requirements covered can be difficult. For example, iron allows your body to make more blood for your baby, aids in oxygen flow and helps your baby grow in the second and third trimesters. Yet, according to WebMD, only about 50% of pregnant women get enough of the mineral. In addition, sometimes nausea throughout pregnancy can make it difficult to eat a planned out diet. Unfortunately, deficiencies can cause a variety of birth defects.
With that being said, you won’t get all of your nutrients from a prenatal vitamin. Check the label on the brand you purchase and compare it to the essential pregnancy vitamin requirements. Whichever vitamin daily values the supplement is missing, make sure to get those in your regular diet.
The last caveat to note is that prenatal vitamins aren’t a replacement for a healthy diet. Taking the recommended dose doesn’t mean you can eat fast food for every meal. Getting nutrients through food is the best. You should aim to eat a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables and healthy fats and grains.
#2 When Should I Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
As we’ll discuss below, you can take prenatal vitamins before you’re pregnant while you’re trying to conceive. If you weren’t taking them beforehand, you should start taking them now or as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. A baby’s neural tube develops in the first month, sometimes before a woman even knows she’s pregnant. Since nutrients are crucial for this early development, taking a prenatal—or at least folic acid—early is a good idea.
#3 Which Pregnancy Vitamins Should I Avoid?
Although meeting nutritional requirements is critical, it’s possible to overdo it. Some vitamins can be harmful when consumed in excess. For example, vitamin A is necessary but can have toxic effects at high doses, possibly leading to liver damage or congenital birth defects. If you’re eating a balanced diet and taking one prenatal vitamin as directed, it’s unlikely you’ll overdose on vitamins. This becomes more of a risk when a mother is taking several different types of prenatal or is also taking an additional specific vitamin or mineral.
To avoid taking too many vitamins, pay attention to the nutritional label on the brand you choose and what you’re getting through food. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor about supplementing your diet.
#4 What Time of Day Should I Take Prenatal Vitamins?
There is no specific best time of day to take your prenatal vitamin. When you should take it depends on your preferences and schedule. Some women get nauseous from their vitamins and prefer to take it before bed or with a meal. Taking it at a convenient time and at the same time every day will help you establish a routine, making it easier to remember. Keep in mind that some prenatal vitamins indicate to take them 2 or 3 times daily.
#5 Can You Take DHA and Prenatal Vitamins Together?
DHA is important to help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. The fat can be found in fish, orange juice and milk. If you aren’t getting 200 mg of DHA per day, you should take a DHA supplement or make sure it’s contained in your prenatal vitamin. Not every prenatal contains this fat, so be sure to check the label. We recommend MamaNurture Premium Prenatal Vitamins because they contain the essentials along with DHA.
#6 Should I Take Prenatal Vitamins When I’m Trying to Conceive?
Originally, most women were advised to start taking prenatals once they became pregnant. However, now many doctors recommend taking folic acid if you’re trying to conceive. That’s because, by the time you figure out you’re pregnant, your body may already need it to develop your baby. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that any women who can become pregnant should take folic acid daily because it may be difficult to get from your diet alone.
#7 Should I Take Prenatal Vitamins When I’m Breastfeeding?
Some breastfeeding women can meet their nutrient requirements through a balanced and well-planned diet. However, taking a prenatal vitamin after pregnancy can be beneficial for those busy newborn days when your diet may not be perfect. Since you’re transferring nutrients through your milk, what you eat and take still effects your baby after pregnancy. Meeting the requirements may also help you produce more milk. You can purchase a postnatal supplement specifically for breastfeeding, or you can simply continue taking prenatals. Whichever you choose, these are the most important breastfeeding vitamins and minerals:
- Iron— Many women are already low on iron and may lose more during labor
- Calcium— You can get your daily dose in about 3 glasses of milk, but if you don’t consume dairy, the safest option is to use a supplement.
- Essential vitamins— You should also be getting your recommended dietary allowance of all essential vitamins, including C, D and A so you can pass them onto your baby.
#8 Are there Prenatal Vitamins for Men?
Some women wonder if there’s a prenatal vitamin men can take to help conception. In general, having a healthy lifestyle and eating a balanced diet is the best “prenatal” for men. With that being said, if your partner has some gaps in his requirements, he can supplement with a regular daily vitamin. There are also some products marketed as “his and hers” conception supplements. It’s a bad idea to give women’s prenatal vitamins to men. Compared to pregnant women, men need lower amounts of folic acid and iron. Getting more is unnecessary and could be harmful.
#9 What Should I Look for in a Prenatal Vitamin?
Before choosing a prenatal vitamin, ask your doctor about any specific requirements you may have. There’s a couple of things you should take into consideration:
- Your daily nutritional requirements— Since you’re also fueling another human being, pregnant women need more vitamins and minerals. Learn about how much more you need here.
- Your current diet— To know what you’ll need in a prenatal, you should take a look at your current diet and where the gaps are. For example, if you don’t consume dairy or many leafy, green vegetables, you may want to search for a supplement higher in calcium. Or, if you’ve always been borderline iron deficient, you’ll need to select a vitamin also containing iron.
- Nutrients in prenatal— Instead of choosing the first prenatal you see, read the label to understand which vitamins and minerals are included. Then, see the daily value (DV) included and whether that fits in with the above two points.
A prenatal vitamin should contain:
- Folic acid
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12
When you have a prenatal vitamin in mind, you may wish to bring the package in (or take a photo of the label) to have your doctor give their opinion.
#10 What are the Best Over-the-Counter Prenatal Vitamins?
We recommend the MamaNurture Premium Prenatal Vitamins + DHA. This unique and curated compilation is perfect for those who are pregnant, trying to conceive or breastfeeding. The formula was made keeping in mind the optimal ratios of absorption, safety and metabolism.
The blend includes 25 vitamins and nutrients and quatrefolic bioactive folate in an optimal amount. Since it has 300 mg DHA, you won’t need to worry about purchasing a separate supplement. It’s also made in the USA and manufactured and bottled in a state-of-the-art GMP (good manufacturing practice) certified facility.
Let’s take a quick run through of the ingredients and why they’re essential for pregnancy health:
- Vitamin A, lutein complex and DHA— Helps develop baby vision
- DHA, zinc and iron— Necessary for baby brain development
- Vitamin D, magnesium and K1 and K2— Helps bone growth and strength
- Bioactive folate, iron and B12— Helps prevent neural tube defects
- DHA, vitamin A and vitamin D— Supports a healthy immune system
- Iodine, vitamin D and bioactive Folate— Supports mental health
These soft gels should be taken twice a day with meals. You can purchase a pack of 60 for $29.95.
Do you have any burning prenatal vitamin questions? If so, comment them below. Be sure to share this post with any expecting friends.
P.S. If you’re pregnant, you should also check out our fetal dopplers. These amazing devices allow you to listen to your baby while she’s still inside the womb, similar to an ultrasound. Get yours today!