Prenatal Vitamins
Preconception And Pregnancy Supplements

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pregnancy vitamins

Prenatal Vitamins


What Are Prenatal Vitamins?
What Is In A Prenatal Vitamin?
Buying Prenatal Vitamins
Taking Prenatal Vitamins For Hair Growth When Not Pregnant
Should I Take Them Before Pregnancy?
How Long Should I Take Them After Pregnancy?

Main Articles:

Prenatal Care Guide
Prenatal Care Costs

Pregnancy Diet

What Are Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are supplements which are specially formulated for pregnant women. During pregnancy the body has an increased need for specific nutrients, these nutrients help your baby develop normally. Some are made naturally by the body, others must come from your diet. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can lead to an illness in the mother or birth defects in a growing fetus. Doctors usually recommend prenatal vitamins because most mothers do not eat enough of the right foods to meet their increased nutritional needs. They may prescribe a specific brand, or recommend one you can buy over the counter.

What Is In A Prenatal Vitamin?

A prenatal vitamin should contain the following vitamins and minerals (folic acid, iron and calcium are particularly important):

Folic acid: 400 micrograms (mcg)
Vitamin D: 400 IU
Calcium: 200 to 300 milligrams (mg)
Vitamin C: 70 mg
Thiamine: 3 mg
Riboflavin: 2 mg
Niacin: 20 mg
Vitamin B12: 6 mcg
Vitamin E: 10 mg
Zinc: 15 mg
Iron: 17 mg

Folic Acid
Also known as folate acid, folic acid is a B vitamin which helps the body generate new cells for growth and wound healing. It is critical for pregnant women because it lowers the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in a growing baby. Low folate is common in women who don't eat many green vegetables, whole grains and fortified cereals. Even if you do eat these, it's still a good idea to take a supplement as a back up. Women who have already had a baby with a neural defect should talk to their OB/Gyn about taking a stronger dose of folic acid. Studies show that taking a larger dose (up to 4,000 mgs) at least one month before becoming pregnant and during the first trimester may help these women.

Getting enough iron during pregnancy isn't that easy. Lack of iron can lead to anemia during pregnancy, the signs of which are shortness of breath, paleness and fatigue. Vitamin C helps the absorption of iron.

Even though mom's calcium needs don't increase, the baby needs it as soon as 4 to 6 weeks after conception when teeth formation begins. By week 25 these needs are even higher when bone formation is at a high. During pregnancy your body will naturally adapt and start absorbing more calcium from the food you eat, but calcium in a supplement is still usually necessary. Vitamin D (which we get from the sun) is necessary for calcium absorption, so try to spend 10 minutes in the sun everyday when you are pregnant.

Buying Prenatal Vitamins

Different manufacturers produce different combinations of prenatal vitamins - some for example have higher amounts of iron which are aimed at women prone to anemia (those who entered pregnancy with low iron due to heavy periods or anemia). Always ask your pregnancy healthcare team to recommend a suitable brand for your specific requirements. Don't be tempted to top up a prenatal vitamin with additional supplements - too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Additionally, ensure that your vitamins have the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) seal of approval. Approval means the supplement meets standards set for the time it takes to dissolve in the stomach - if a vitamin does not dissolve fast enough, we are not able to absorb all the nutrients.

Best Prenatal Vitamins

The American Pregnancy Association promote their own brand of vitamin drink called Prenatal oxylent. You can get a free sample by contacting OXYLENT toll-free on 1-877-699-5368 or visiting and entering the promotional code APAOXYLENT to earn 20 percent off your first order. Other popular vitamins (in tablet form) include:
• Nature Made Prenatal Vitamins with DHA
• New Chapter Organic Prenatal
• Rainbow Light
• Vitafusion - PreNata
• Deva Vegan Vitamins

Taking Prenatal Vitamins For Hair Growth When Not Pregnant

Some women may be tempted to take prenatal vitamins when they are not pregnant because of unproven claims that they strengthen hair and nails. While prenatal vitamins are usually safe for all adult women, they may not be suitable for you if you are not pregnant. They are specially formulated for the nutritional needs of pregnancy, or for women trying to become pregnant. Instead, you should choose a vitamin suitable to your requirements, based on your age, gender and any medical needs. See also, hair loss after pregnancy.

Should I Take Prenatal Vitamins Before Pregnancy?

Yes, ideally when preparing for pregnancy you should start taking prenatal vitamins 2 to 3 months before conceiving. Not only will it help protect your baby from birth defects when you do become pregnant, but it may also reduce your risk of morning sickness in the first trimester. And finally the zinc in your vitamin will give your fertility a boost. To avoid overdosing, stop taking any other supplements if you take prenatal vitamins.

How Long Should I Take Them After Pregnancy?

If you are breastfeeding, your doctor may recommend continuing to take your prenatal vitamins until your baby is weaned. If you are not breastfeeding, you can switch back to a regular multi-vitamin.


Related Articles on Prenatal Health

For more on conception health, see the following:

Pregnancy scan photos and video images

Back to Homepage: Womens Health Advice

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