What to Look out for in a Prenatal Vitamin
By Dr. Cary Dicken
Prenatal vitamins are essential and necessary for you and your baby’s health before and during pregnancy. Making sure you have a good prenatal helps your body prepare for the journey of being pregnant, and can help prepare your body for going through any potential fertility treatments.
What is a prenatal vitamin?
Prenatal vitamins are vitamins specifically catered to women trying to get pregnant. As soon as you decide to start trying for a baby, you should be taking a prenatal. Taking prenatal vitamins helps your body reach its full potential before pregnancy, potentially helping to reduce some of the more negative symptoms that come with it like nausea or acne.
How long do I take it?
As soon as you decide to have a baby is when you start taking it. The time after that is determined by how long it takes you to get pregnant which is determined by many different factors. Most doctors will also recommend that you take it all the way through pregnancy, and through breastfeeding (if you choose to breastfeed over formula feed).
What do I look out for in a prenatal vitamin?
There are many different vitamins and minerals you should look out for in a prenatal:
- Folic Acid: This is one of the most important components to look for in a prenatal. Folic acid helps prevents birth defects relating to the brain and spinal cord. Look for at least 400-800 mg in your prenatal, since it’s necessary to get 600 mg of folic acid a day pre and during pregnancy.
- Iron: This is another very important component to look for in your prenatal. Iron helps with blood health, and the quality of your blood is ultimately going to help your baby since that’s how they get oxygen. While you’re pregnant, you’re going to need 27 mg of iron a day, so make sure your prenatal fits that need.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C will help your immune system stay strong while you’re pregnant, helping keep you and your baby healthy.
- Calcium: Make sure your prenatal has a good amount of calcium in order to encourage healthy bone development. Along with calcium, make sure it has vitamin D, since calcium can not be properly used in the body without vitamin D. A good prenatal will have 1,000 mg of calcium and 400-600 IU of vitamin D.
- Choline: Choline works with folic acid to help ensure your baby’s brain and spinal cord develop optimally. Look for a prenatal with 450 mg of choline.
- Vitamin A: Commonly found in orange vegetables, vitamin A helps makes sure your baby has healthy skin and eyesight. Your prenatal should have 770 mg of vitamin A.
- Vitamin B: There are two types of vitamin B you should look out for in your prenatal: B6 and B12. B6 helps with blood health and B12 helps with the nervous system.
- Iodine: Commonly found in iodized table salt, iodine is essential for a baby’s growing brain. Make sure your prenatal has 220 micrograms.
Other Minerals/Vitamins/Nutrients to Lookout For
There are some supplements that are not always found in prenatal vitamins but might be beneficial to take separately:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fats are beneficial for general development of the baby, but especially for brain development. If you don’t eat a lot of fatty fish and nuts in your daily diet, it might be good to get on an omega-3 supplement.
- Fiber: Sometimes, prenatal vitamins can cause constipation. It’s good to invest in a separate fiber supplement if that is the case.
Importance of Keeping a Healthy Diet
While your prenatal vitamin might have it all, it’s incredibly important to maintain a healthy diet during your entire pregnancy journey. This will help keep your body regulated, your stress under control, and help fill in any potential missing gaps your prenatal might miss.
Make sure you consult with your fertility doctor to make sure your prenatal vitamin is filling your nutrition needs and to make sure you’re not missing anything in your diet. Having a prenatal vitamin ensures a healthy mom, healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby.