Folic acid, a fundamental element in prenatal vitamins, is an essential nutrient you should eat long before you buy baby bottles, breast pumps, and bibs. Other nutrients that you—and your growing baby—need are also provided by these supplements.
What Is a Prenatal Vitamin?
A prenatal vitamin is a dietary supplement that provides essential nutrients and minerals for a healthy pregnancy. Taking a prenatal vitamin and eating nutritious meals, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), should provide a person with all the vitamins and minerals they require throughout pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamins are essential for pregnant women because the developing fetus requires specific nutrients that are difficult to obtain from food alone.
“Fetal development is quick and requires a lot of metabolism—dependent it’s on the right quantity of amino acids and nutrition,” explains James Grifo, M.D., chief executive physician at Inception Fertility and program director at NYU Langone Fertility Center in New York City.
Pregnant women should 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 brain development, and folic acid to help prevent birth defects, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Vitamins A, B6, B12, C, and D are also recommended, since they provide a variety of advantages ranging from encouraging good skin and eyesight to the development of red blood cells. While a good diet may deliver many of these nutrients, taking a prenatal vitamin ensures that your daily nutrition needs are covered no matter what’s on the menu.
Even if you eat a balanced diet, getting the necessary quantity of some nutrients, particularly folic acid, might be difficult. For example, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women take 600 micrograms of folic acid every day to help avoid brain and spinal birth abnormalities. While some folic acid can be found in fortified cereals and leafy green vegetables, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests supplementing with a prenatal vitamin to ensure you obtain the appropriate amount.
What Nutrients Do Prenatal Vitamins Contain?
A prenatal vitamin contains a variety of nutrients. The Forbes Health editorial team ranked prenatal vitamins based on whether or not they included (or did not contain) the following ingredients:
Talk to your doctor or midwife about which prenatal vitamin is right for you when comparing ingredient lists. Folic acid is a critical vitamin in general. OB-GYNs normally recommend taking a prenatal vitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid, and many prenatal vitamins have approximately 800 micrograms.
DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is also frequently advised for embryonic brain development. DHA is included in several prenatal supplements. You can also complement your diet with a DHA supplement.
When Is the Best Time to Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are beneficial not just to pregnant women, but also to those who are attempting to conceive. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends taking a prenatal vitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid at least one month before getting pregnant.
Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, advises, “Start taking prenatal vitamins when you start trying—don’t wait until you’re pregnant.” “I advise all of my patients to take folic acid supplements before they get pregnant—at least 400 micrograms per day—because we know that women who take folic acid supplements have a lower chance of birth abnormalities like spina bifida.”
“You might become pregnant if you’re having sex even if you’re not intending to conceive,” she adds, adding that if you’re not using contraception, you should take a prenatal vitamin just in case.
The inclusion of folic acid (or DFE), iron, iodine, DHA, EPA, choline and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D3, as well as the presence of fillers, dyes or gluten. While ACOG recommends calcium, we didn’t subtract points from before birth that didn’t contain it. Some OB-GYNs noted that while most people will benefit from added calcium in a prenatal vitamin, additional supplementation might not be needed for those who obtain enough from their diets.Required dose per day
What are the benefits of taking a prenatal vitamin?
Vitamins, minerals, and trace elements are required in greater quantities throughout pregnancy to maintain your health as well as the health and growth of the growing fetus.
For example, folate requirements rise by 50% and iron requirements rise by 150 percent.
These and many other nutrients are critical for fetal and placental growth as well as the pregnant woman’s overall health, which is why they’re required in greater quantities during pregnancy.
Taking a prenatal vitamin that has all of the elements necessary for a healthy pregnancy will help you avoid deficiency and guarantee you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need to keep yourself and your baby healthy.
Other nutrients to look for in a prenatal vitamin include iodine, vitamin D, choline, B vitamins, and calcium, in addition to folate. It’s also a good idea to select a product that contains omega-3 fatty acids.
While prenatal vitamins can assist fill in nutritional shortages, they aren’t a one-way ticket to superhuman health throughout pregnancy.
It’s crucial to read nutrition labels and eat a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet to get the vitamins and minerals you need.
A nutritionist who specializes in pregnancy nutrition can assist you in creating a diet that is tailored to your tastes and health concerns.
How to Select the Most Appropriate Prenatal Vitamin
what is the best vitamins for pregnant ?
Your doctor may prescribe a prescription prenatal supplement if you have pregnancy difficulties or other health issues. Otherwise, over-the-counter supplements are available at your local drugstore or online.
While there are numerous options, you should pick a prenatal supplement that has all of the vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy pregnancy.
The majority of before birth provide all or almost all of the micronutrients required during pregnancy.
Many before birth , however, fall short in a few areas, which is why doing your homework before selecting a prenatal supplement is critical.
Prenatal supplements, in particular, are frequently deficient in the nutrients listed below, despite the need of getting enough of these nutrients during pregnancy:
- Choline. Choline is required for fetal and placental development and growth. Because many pregnant women don’t receive enough, it’s critical to take a choline-fortified prenatal supplement and eat choline-rich foods like egg yolks.
- DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a fatty acid that is in high demand during pregnancy due to its importance in fetal brain development. Ask a healthcare expert for DHA supplement advice if your prenatal doesn’t include it.
- EPA. Another essential fatty acid during pregnancy is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). As a result, healthcare providers often advise picking a DHA and EPA-rich prenatal or supplementing with DHA and EPA separately.
- Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Currently, 600 IU of vitamin D is recommended throughout pregnancy. Pregnant women, on the other hand, need roughly 4,000 IU of vitamin D each day to maintain healthy levels, according to study. When you’re nursing, your vitamin D requirements are significantly higher.
Your doctor or a certified dietitian may recommend a specific prenatal vitamin depending on your health needs because each pregnancy is different.
Frequently asked questions
What are the benefits of taking prenatal vitamins?
The demand for micronutrients increases dramatically during pregnancy. To address your vitamin demands, health professionals recommend taking a prenatal supplement before, during, and after pregnancy.
What is the best time to begin taking prenatal vitamins?
It’s ideal to start taking prenatal vitamins before you get pregnant. Prenatal folate supplementation, which is contained in prenatal vitamins, dramatically lowers the risk of neural tube abnormalities like spina bifida.
During the first month of pregnancy, a baby’s neural tube grows, which will eventually become the brain and spinal cord. It’s possible that this will happen before you even realize you’re expecting.
As a result, doctors advise taking a folate-rich prenatal vitamin for at least three months before to conception .
If you haven’t already, start taking a daily prenatal vitamin as soon as you learn you’re expecting. Throughout your pregnancy, you’ll continue to take your prenatal vitamin every day.
Experts also advise that you take a prenatal vitamin after giving delivery.
This is because your body requires more nutrition during nursing and needs extra nutrients to promote recovery following birth. In fact, many dietary requirements are higher while nursing than they are throughout pregnancy.