Perhaps you’re thinking of taking prenatal vitamins, and what to make sure that you choose ones that have all of your pregnancy bases covered. There are certain essential vitamins and minerals that any prenatal vitamin worth its salt should contain. You don’t want to leave any of them out or you could be missing out on benefits to both you and your baby. There are three key times to consider taking prenatal vitamins and we’ll go into more detail on the benefits they provide to each important part of the process.
When to Use Them?
Before You’re Pregnant: It’s perfectly OK to get started on prenatal vitamins, even while you’re trying to get pregnant. While they won’t necessarily increase your chances of success, they will ensure that you have everything in place once you do get pregnant, so that your little embryo is starting from a strong foundation from Day One.
After Conception: Once you’re pregnant, now you’ve got to consider that your baby is counting on you as their sole source of food and nutrients and you’ll want to prevent any gaps, especially in the main areas listed below. This is a time when your body will be going through major hormonal changes and shifts, and it is also a time when there will be severe nutritional demands that are hard to meet by just eating a proper diet. Of course you’ll want to do your best to eat foods that are nutrient dense, and get light exercise to make sure your body and mind are healthy and happy, but prenatal vitamins are good for setting a solid base.
While Breastfeeding: After you’ve had your baby they are still relying on you for the nutrients they need through your breast milk. That’s why you want to continue eating a healthy diet, and continue supplementing with prenatal vitamins, even though you’ve already given birth. There are also postnatal vitamins that you can take that are specifically designed to meet your nutritional needs after you’ve delivered, and while you’re breastfeeding.
11 Essential Prenatal Vitamins for Expecting Moms
When looking at the different brands and types of prenatal vitamins, make sure that you’re getting these specific vitamins and minerals. You may also see other nutrients included, but you’ll want to make sure that they contain these as a bare minimum.
Calcium is one very important mineral that you don’t want to be short on while you’re trying to get pregnant, during your pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. We all know that calcium helps with bones, teeth, and nails, and during the nine months of development your baby will be forming the building blocks of these as well as countless other body parts and cells. Calcium even plays a role in helping your baby’s different systems, including the cardiovascular system. It’s one mineral that you don’t want to run short on, so be sure to eat calcium-rich foods as well.
#2 Folic Acid
It’s commonly understood that your folic acid levels need to be in a healthy state throughout the entire duration of your pregnancy. But it’s important to understand why this is the case, because a strong enough why can help you to remember to take your vitamins daily. The reason folic acid is so important is because it can help to prevent birth defects if taken early on in pregnancy. It’s important to have it in your system before you get pregnant, and carry on with it all the way through pregnancy, although in varying amounts.
Running a shortage of Iron is not a good idea while pregnant. Even though you won’t be having your period, there’s still a big need for iron because you’ll have more blood in your system than you typically do. It’s interesting to note that both losing blood to menstruation, and increasing blood due to pregnancy can both put iron demands on your body. The placenta is also going to put a strain on your Iron reserves, which is why it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough for both you and your baby.
Niacin is another important mineral that you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough of, and mostly this is needed during your pregnancy. You can scale it back once you’ve delivered and are breastfeeding, which is one reason why you should starting using a postnatal supplement instead of the prenatal one you’ll be using while pregnant. Niacin also goes by the name of Vitamin B3, making it part of the B Vitamin family and helps the body in several ways. It’s not too hard to run low on it, which is why you’re playing it safe with a good multivitamin.
If you’re not familiar with Riboflavin and how it plays a part in your pregnancy, now is a good time to get acquainted with it. Not only will it help you feel less depleted and fatigued while you’re pregnant, it’s also going to help your baby develop, and give them the vitamins they need to grow healthy inside of you. It’s helping with important things like muscles and nerves, so this is something you need to supply them with every day. Unlike some vitamins like Vitamin D, your body can’t build reserves of Riboflavin, so you need to supplement daily.
Thiamine supports many functions of the body that play a big role while you’re pregnant. It’s another B Vitamin, rounding out this essential group of vitamins and this might be dubbed one of the most important of the bunch because it’s helping with the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. Keep a constant shortage of Vitamin B1 and you could be setting your future child up for developmental problems. Don’t let it scare you, just be sure to top up on it while you’re pregnant.
#7 Vitamin B12
This is an important vitamin to have because it has been shown to have a direct impact on the behavior of your baby once they’re born. A lack of Vitamin B12 could be the cause of sleepless babies that cry more often than those that received an ample supply while in the womb. You don’t need to overdo it, as there isn’t any benefit to having excessive amounts of it in your system. In fact, you can eat foods that are high in Vitamin B12 and have most of your needs met.
#8 Vitamin C
Vitamins of all types are important while pregnant, but you’ll want to pay extra special attention to your Vitamin C reserves. It not only helps to make sure that you stay healthy while expecting, but it helps with the fetal development of your baby. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, so it will be working to battle some some of the free radical damage of the body. It’s playing a part in your baby’s development of key body features like cartilage, bones, and skin, and also helps you and your baby absorb Iron.
#9 Vitamin D
Vitamin D has so many positive benefits that you simply can’t go too long without it, whether or not you’re pregnant. But since you are, or you’re trying to get there, you should definitely add it to your list of vitamins to get more of. It can affect everything from your baby’s birth weight to whether or not they have birth defects. In addition to taking supplements that contain Vitamin D you should also make it a point to get regular and limited exposure to the sun to make sure that you are producing your own natural Vitamin D.
#10 Vitamin E
It’s important not to go too far with your intake of Vitamin E, and perhaps you don’t need your prenatal vitamin to contain it if you’re getting enough foods with Vitamin E. Studies show that taking too much supplemental Vitamin E may actually do more harm than good. You don’t want to run a deficiency, but you don’t need to run a surplus either. By focusing more on food intake, your body will safely discard any excess.
Zinc plays an vital role in the repairing of and production of DNA in the body. Since you are in the process of creating life embedded with DNA, it’s only natural to want to make sure that you are helping it to form without any DNA abnormalities that can lead to complications either during pregnancy or later in life.
Don’t forget the Omega-3 Fatty Acids
One emerging benefit of omega-3s is that they can help with prenatal health, and should be included as part of a comprehensive approach to creating the perfect environment for your baby.
Best Prenatal Vitamins Currently Available
Not all prenatal vitamins are created equally, and there are more than a few of them out there that aren’t worth buying, and could really cause some problems due to their poor quality. Here is a selection of brands that are striving to bring you a quality product, and make sure that your baby is getting the best.
#1 Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal
This is a prenatal vitamin that hits all of the necessary vitamins and minerals, and then goes above and beyond, offering support in several other important areas of the body, including digestion, your immune system, and mental health.
What’s nice about these is that you can open up the capsules and add the contents to your morning smoothie made with a combination of these superfoods. You are supposed to take 3 per day, and can take them with or without so it’s very convenient and doesn’t require a ton of forethought.
Further Details: Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal by Garden of Life
#2 Prenatal Multivitamin Organics
This is a supplement to take when you first realize you want to have a baby. It has vitamins and minerals in it that will help you through your day even before you get pregnant. Once you’ve conceived it’s going to provide you with a comprehensive assortment of everything you need to ensure things go well through all three trimesters.
This is another vitamin that can be opened and added to food in case you just don’t feel like swallowing pills on any given day. This makes it possible to add it to soups and other foods where it will dissolve nicely and you’ll be sure to get all of it.
Further Details: Prenatal Multivitamin Organics by Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems
#3 Prenatal Daily Nutrition
The biggest benefit to taking this prenatal is that they’re using whole food sources whenever they can. This means that instead of synthetic vitamins, you’re getting whole foods that the body knows how to properly assimilate and break down in the body. This makes it so you’re absorbing and using more of the vitamins it contains, and not just watching it all come out in your urine.
Even the Iron it contains comes from whole food sources, so while this might be a bit pricier than some of the the other vitamins on the market, you’re getting a higher quality of vitamin here so there’s strong value for the dollar.
Further Details: Prenatal Daily Nutrition by Realfood Organics
Prenatal Vitamin FAQ
Do prenatal vitamins have side effects?
Any supplement you take will have side effects, and this is true even if you are taking one that is mostly just vitamins and minerals. These can arise because you may be getting too much of a specific substance, and your body has to figure out what to do with it. In most cases though, there are few side effects reported with a quality prenatal vitamin.
Can prenatal vitamins affect a pregnancy test?
No. These vitamins are just that, vitamins and minerals and would have no bearing on the testing procedure, whether it’s an at-home test or one performed by your doctor.
Will prenatal vitamins cause acne?
Sometimes getting too much of a certain vitamin can cause you to break out. That’s why it’s important not to use a prenatal vitamin that has excessive amounts of vitamins in it. Look for one that provides 100% of the RDV and not more.
Can prenatal vitamins affect birth control?
No. There is nothing particularly interesting in prenatal vitamins that would cause a prescription medication like birth control pills to stop working, or to work any better than they already do. You are simply getting a multivitamin tailored to the needs of an expecting woman.
Do prenatal vitamins give you headaches?
If you’ve taken too many prenatal vitamins, you could be causing yourself a headache. It’s easy to get overzealous with them and think that you’re doing right by your baby by taking more of them than is recommended. But there is no benefit to taking too many vitamins, and you should only be taking what your body needs, no more.
Can prenatal vitamins affect your hormones?
Your hormones are going to do their own thing while you’re pregnant, whether or not you take prenatal vitamins. But these vitamins will help you to cope better, and give you a chance to be healthier during this time so that you can more easily deal with whatever situation presents itself.
Will prenatal vitamins cause constipation?
If you choose a prenatal that has more Iron that what you need, you may experience bouts of constipation. That’s why it’s vital that you look at the numbers and see what the supplement contains, sizing it up to your personal nutritional needs and going with the one that makes the most sense.
Can prenatal vitamins affect your period?
No, unless you were deficient in the vitamins and minerals that are present, and this deficiency was causing irregular periods, they could help to make things more natural.
Do prenatal vitamins cause heartburn?
It’s possible that these could cause heartburn, because they contain acidic vitamins like Vitamin C. That’s why it’s a good idea to eat a proper diet and get most of your nutritional needs met through that, rather than try to compensate for it with a prenatal that has high doses of vitamins.
Can prenatal vitamins cause kidney stones?
It’s the extra calcium that prenatal vitamins contain that gets women to ask if they can cause kidney stones. If you are already getting sufficient amounts of calcium, opt for a prenatal that has lower amounts of it. If your kidneys are functioning properly they should be able to handle a slight excess of calcium without forming stones.
Will prenatal vitamins cause weight gain?
There is nothing in most prenatal vitamins that would suggest that they cause weight gain. Many times women gain weight during pregnancy, and try to attribute it to different things that happen in conjunction with being pregnant. But taking prenatal vitamins isn’t one of them.
Will prenatal vitamins help lose weight?
If your body was struggling with nutritional deficiencies before you started taking prenatal vitamins, you may find that you start to slim down due to an improved function of many of your body’s symptoms. You’ll be getting doses of Vitamin C and the B Vitamins, which have been known to help the body lose weight. Be prepared to gain it back once you get pregnant though, it’s only natural.
Can prenatal vitamins cause a UTI?
There is nothing in prenatal vitamins that would lead to getting a UTI. Although UTIs are more common during pregnancy, and may line up with the start of taking prenatal vitamins, which may be the cause of the misconception.
Can prenatal vitamins cause vomiting?
It’s not necessarily the prenatal vitamin that is making you vomit or feel nauseous. These are common symptoms of pregnancy. The pill may have a distinctive odor to it, especially if it is made with organic or whole food sources, which may be triggering a reaction.
Can prenatal vitamins cause diarrhea?
There are some prenatal vitamins that contain stool softeners in them. To avoid loose stools go with a brand that doesn’t contain this added ingredient.
Do prenatal vitamins enlarge your breasts?
Prenatal vitamins often get credited with breast enlargement, but this is a natural reaction of your body as it prepares to breastfeed.
Can prenatal vitamins keep you awake?
Sleep problems are common during pregnancy, but it’s likely not the fault of your prenatal vitamin. It’s a good idea to take them during the day, as instructed by your doctor or by the manufacturer. We’ve yet to see a prenatal that recommends taking it at night.
Can prenatal vitamins get you pregnant?
If a nutritional imbalance was stunting your ability to get pregnant, getting it fixed by taking a prenatal might be the key to pregnancy. Of course this shouldn’t be relied on at your only method of increasing your fertility, but it’s unlikely that it would diminish your chances further.
Do prenatal vitamins improve egg quality?
While research is limited as to just how much a prenatal vitamin can affect your egg quality, it will likely make you more healthy overall, which should result in better eggs.
Do prenatal vitamins increase estrogen?
No. They are simply a special multivitamin to be taken when you’re trying to get pregnant, while you’re pregnant, and perhaps even while you’re breastfeeding.
Do prenatal vitamins increase libido?
You may have more energy from the Vitamin C and Vitamin D found in a quality prenatal, and also these vitamins will have you feeling good. These good feelings might spark your sex drive, but prenatal vitamins as a whole are not specifically designed to get you revved up for sex.
Do prenatal vitamins cause autism?
Not likely, and in fact a shortage of key nutrients like Folic Acid, found commonly in most prenatal vitamins, has shown to increase the chances of having a baby with autism or Asperger syndrome.
Do prenatal vitamins prevent birth defects?
Yes, by establishing a base of nutrients and vitamins you’re making sure that there are no nutritional gaps for the proper development of your baby. Contrarily, if you are running a deficiency on key vitamins and minerals, your baby won’t have the essential building blocks they need to form correctly. It’s important to understand that some birth defects will happen even if you are providing the perfect environment for growth.
Can prenatal vitamins prevent down syndrome?
Down syndrome is not affected by prenatal vitamins. It’s a genetic disorder that either will or won’t happen regardless of the steps you take before or after you get pregnant.
Do prenatal vitamins lower chance of miscarriage?
Yes, they will. They contain the essential nutrients and minerals that you and your baby need for proper development. While nothing can prevent every miscarriage, you’ll be setting yourself up for the best outcome.
What’s in them?
Do prenatal vitamins contain Folic Acid?
Yes, any good prenatal will make sure to include Folic Acid, as it’s one of the most important B Vitamins you’ll need. The amounts will vary, so check with your doctor on your specific needs and find one that lines up accordingly.
Do prenatal vitamins contain Gluten?
Most high quality prenatals will be gluten-free. They’ll also be free of other common allergens such as dairy and wheat.
Do prenatal vitamins contain Iron?
Yes, a quality prenatal will contain Iron because it is an essential mineral to have throughout your pregnancy. Look for a vitamin that gets its iron from natural sources.
Do prenatal vitamins have Vitamin A?
Some do and some don’t. If you want to make sure that you’ve got everything covered you can make sure that your specific brand carries it, or simply up your intake of Vitamin A foods.
Do prenatal vitamins have Vitamin C?
Yes, nearly every single prenatal vitamin will contain a dose of Vitamin C, as this is very important for the health of both the mother and baby.
Do prenatal vitamins have Vitamin D?
A quality prenatal will contain Vitamin D, so be sure to check as this can be a distinguishing feature between the good and the bad. Also you can form your own supply by getting out into the sun for a few minutes each day.
Do prenatal vitamins have Vitamin K?
Most of them do not, as this is not really an essential vitamin to be concerned about during pregnancy. There is no additional demand on your system for it.
Do prenatal vitamins contain Potassium?
They may or may not contain it. You’ll need to assess your potassium needs and see if you should find one that has it. It’s a pretty easy mineral to top up on, so it’s usually not a big issue. Start eating more potassium-rich foods.
Do prenatal vitamins contain Zinc?
Yes, any good prenatal will give you a supply of Zinc. Your body needs it, and so does your baby’s as it’s developing. If you are concerned about getting enough Zinc, ask your doctor to test your levels to see how much you need.
Do prenatal vitamins have omega-3 in it?
They might if they are on the cutting edge or science and research. Recent studies show that it’s good to have essential fatty acids like these during pregnancy. Look for supplements that have fish oils as a potential source of omega-3.
Can prenatal vitamins prevent pregnancy?
No. There is nothing magical or mystical about prenatal vitamins, they are similar to a multivitamin, they simply contain more of the things that pregnant women will need before, during, and after childbirth.
Can I buy prenatal vitamins over the counter?
Many moms-to-be wonder if prenatal vitamins have to be prescribed. You don’t need a prescription, but it’s always good to get your doctor’s advice regarding where you stand in regards to nutrition. They may be able to help you choose your prenatal based on tests that show where your different vitamin deficiencies are.
Do prenatal vitamins need to be taken with food?
Yes. Although many of the best brands can be taken with or without food, it’s your choice. Some brands, however, require that you take it with food, so be sure to check the label for directions on the best way to take it.
Can prenatal vitamins expire?
Yes, they can. You’ll notice an expiration date on the container. It’s best to start fresh with a new supply, since you won’t be getting the full potency of the vitamins and minerals you’re trying to supplement.
Should prenatal vitamins be taken at the same time everyday?
You can take them whenever you’d like, but it’s better to space them out throughout the day rather than take all of them at once just once per day. This is a more natural way to get them into your system so your body can process them.
Should prenatal vitamins be taken before pregnancy?
Many women take prenatal vitamins long before they get pregnant as a way to make sure that they are getting their vital nutritional needs met in advance of a pregnancy. If you have a history of birth defects or a miscarriage, it would be more important for you to make sure that you are not missing out on any vitamins and minerals, even before conception.
Do prenatal vitamins replace multivitamins?
Yes. You don’t want to take a multivitamin in addition to your prenatals because they will contain many of the same vitamins and minerals, and you’d be creating an overload in the body. It sounds counterintuitive but there is such a thing as too many vitamins.
Do prenatal vitamins come in liquid form?
Yes, there are several brands of liquid prenatal vitamins. Also consider that some of the better prenatal vitamins out there come in capsule form, and you can simply open them up and pour their contents into your favorite juice or smoothie.
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