Health and Nutrition Articles

Prenatal Vitamins

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Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins contain many vitamins and minerals including folic acid, iron and calcium. Prenatal vitamins are an important part of pregnancy in addition to healthy eating and exercise.

Ideally, all women who are of child bearing age should be taking prenatal vitamins. The baby's brain and spinal cord develop early on in pregnancy; often before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Prenatal vitamins are available as pills, capsule chewable tablets and even liquids.

Folic Acid, Iron and Calcium

Folic acid has been proven to help prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. Neural tube defects such as spina bifida can develop early after conceptions, often before women even know they are pregnant.

Calcium can help prevent a pregnant woman from losing her bone density as her baby will also use calcium for its own growth. Iron is important because it helps both mom and baby carry oxygen.

Prenatal Recommendations

Your physician may want to give you a prescription for a specific prenatal. At a minimum look for a prenatal vitamin that contains the following:

  • 400 mcg folic acid
  • 400 IU vitamin D
  • 200-300 mg calcium
  • 70 mg vitamin C
  • 3 mg thiamine
  • 2 mg riboflavin
  • 20 mg niacin
  • 6 mcg vitamin B12
  • 10 mg vitamin E
  • 15 mg zinc
  • 17 mg iron

Prenatal vitamins should be taken during the entire length of pregnancy. Your healthcare provider may recommend continuing to take prenatal vitamins after the baby is born, especially if you plan on breastfeeding.

Prenatal Problems

Women may experience nausea when taking a prenatal. If this is the case talk with your healthcare provider to see if they have recommendations. You can also try taking your vitamin with a snack or right before you go to bed at night.

Constipation can also be a problem when taking a prenatal. To help prevent constipation make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids, including more fiber in your diet and staying physically active (as long as your healthcare provider has OK'd this.)

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Quick Facts

  • Prenatal vitamins contain many vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, iron and calcium
  • Ideally, all women who are of child bearing age should be taking prenatal vitamins.
  • Prenatal vitamins help protect against many birth defects and complications.
  • Women should start taking prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid six to 12 months before getting pregnant
  • Prenatal vitamins should be taken during the entire length of pregnancy.
  • Prenatal vitamins may improve the condition of hair, skin and nails
  • As we age, our kidneys are less able to convert vitamin-D to its active form, which increases the risk of vitamin-D deficiency
  • Strict vegetarians do not get the proper levels of vitamin-D from their daily diet
  • Vitamin D keeps calcium in the blood stream and the body longer