Prenatal vitamins are recommended to take before, during and after your pregnancy. They help to ensure that you get enough nutrients during your pregnancy as well as during your postpartum lactating period. They are especially formulated to cover the increased amounts of iron and folic acid needed for your pregnancy.
Calcium is important for the bones and teeth development of your baby as well as to protect the strength of your own bones and teeth. Calcium is also important in the development of other organs in your baby.
Iron is important in the production of your baby’s blood cells as well as to help build the increased blood volume in your own body. Lack of iron can make you very tired and can affect the growth of your baby. Vegetarians are especially prone to anemia during their pregnancy.
Of all the supplements in your prenatal vitamins however, folic acid, is one of the most important ones for your developing baby.
Folic acid has been shown to help reduce the chance of certain brain and spinal cord defects known as neural tube defects. The minimum daily requirement is 600 micrograms. Choline is a water-soluble vitamin related to B vitamins. It is found in eggs, fish and meat but also found in vegetables. Adequate choline levels might help to reduce the risk of neural tube defects as well. Folic acid may also help to reduce the risk of cleft lip and palate as well as other malformations.
Since the development of the neural tube occurs in the very beginning of your pregnancy, often before you are even aware that you are pregnant, it is important to start taking vitamins while you are actually in the process of trying to get pregnant.
There is usually not much difference between prescription and over-the-counter prenatal vitamins. Although most prenatal vitamins come in a pill format, we find that many of our patients struggle with the larger pills. For these patients, we like the Bellybar vitamins, either the chocolate prenatal with DHA or the chewable prenatal with DHA.
We also like TheraNatal prenatal vitamins since they are pharmaceutical-grade, independently certified vitamin and mineral supplements formulated to meet your comprehensive nutrient needs before, during, and after pregnancy.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has suggested the following minimum amount of daily supplements needed in pregnancy.
- 400 mcg of Folic Acid
- 600 IU of Vitamin D
- 1000 mg of Calcium
- 85 mg of Vitamin C
- 1.4 mg of Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
- 1.4 mg of Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- 18 mg of Niacin (Vitamin B3)
- 1.9 mg Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
- 6 mcg of Vitamin B12
- 15 mg or 223 IU of Vitamin E
- 11 mg of Zinc
- 27 mg of Iron
- 770 mcg or 2565 IU of Vitamin A
- 300 mg DHA