9 Things You Should Know About Prenatal Vitamins

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Prenatal vitamins are important for expecting mothers or for women who want to become pregnant. Although the best way to get your daily dose of vitamins is to eat a healthy diet, sometimes key nutrients can be missing. Prenatal vitamins are the next best thing to help fill in those gaps. Prenatal vitamins contain more iron and folic acid than standard adult multivitamins, so taking your One A Day chewable isn’t quite the same thing as getting your hands on some prenatal vitamins. Iron supports a baby’s growth and development and also helps prevent anemia, which is a condition in which blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells. Folic acid helps to prevent neutral tube defects. Such defects are serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.

Other Nutrients

Most standard prenatal vitamins don’t include essential omega-3 fatty acids which help in the brain development of a baby. A diet lacking in these acids, which may be found in fish and other nutrient-rich foods, can be detrimental to the baby. Your healthcare provider might consider prescribing supplements in addition to standard prenatal vitamins to ensure your baby gets a healthy supply of this necessary nutrient.

High Standards

Choosing the right prenatal vitamin for you and your baby isn’t all that difficult, but you should be comfortable with your choice. You’ll want to find one that has at least 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid: the more, the better. It should also have a lot of iron and Vitamins B-6, D, and C. It should also contain significant amounts of calcium, copper, and zinc.

When to Take Them

Prenatal vitamins should be taken the second you decide to try for pregnancy. This is because the baby’s neural tube (which becomes the brain and spinal cord) develops during the first month of pregnancy, and in most cases, you won’t even know you’re pregnant until after that time frame has already passed. Increasing the amount of folic acid in your system before conception is a good way to prevent neural tube defects.

Side Effects

For some women, taking prenatal vitamins has some unpleasant side effects. Some of them report feeling a little queasy after taking their vitamins. Should this side effect occur to you, try to take the prenatal vitamin with food or right before bed. In other women, the iron in prenatal vitamins leads to constipation. To prevent this side effect, drink plenty of fluids, eat more fiber, and include as much physical activity as your healthcare provider allows. In extreme cases, your healthcare provider might recommend a stool softener to help you.


Living in the age of technology has its benefits. Prenatal vitamins used to be large, tough to swallow pills. Now they are available in a delicious and fruity chewable to ease the intake.

What to Look Out For

A good prenatal vitamin contains nutrients that you may not get enough of from your diet, but it also provides no more than the recommended amounts of other nutrients that can be harmful to your baby – especially Vitamin A. Vitamin A derived from animal products can cause birth defects when taken in high doses. That’s why the vitamin A in most prenatal vitamins is at least partly in the form of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a nutrient found in fruits and vegetables that the body converts to vitamin A. Unlike vitamin A from animal products, beta-carotene is considered safe even in high doses.

One A Day

One A Day Women’s Prenatal vitamins are a little bit of a misnomer. One A Day’s prenatal formula comes in a daily 2-pill dose to ensure complete nutrients are provided. One pill in the daily dose is a DHA/EPA liquid gel and the other is a standard prenatal multivitamin.

Nature Made

Nature Made’s prenatal vitamin + DHA is another popular choice. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid and is essential to the brain development of the baby. These prenatal vitamins combines a prenatal multivitamin with 200mg of DHA in a single liquid softgel. These are easy to take and swallow, as the gel slips comfortably down your throat.

New Chapter

New Chapter’s Wholemega Prenatal is not your standard prenatal multivitamin. It is a supplement to other multivitamins and provides critical omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It also contains whole DHA, vitamin D3, and antioxidants. The Wholemega prenatal is made with 100 percent sustainably caught wild Alaskan salmon oil, so you know you’re getting the real deal.

Kenneth spent several years as a chef before embarking on his writing career, and he hasn't looked back since. Find Kenneth on LinkedIn!

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