Prenatal Vitamins

Find the best prenatal vitamins

Vitamin supplements are often important in any healthy lifestyle, but for women who are pregnant, meeting the recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals is even more essential. Pregnant women have different needs and required nutrient levels, so it's important to talk to a doctor before taking any prenatal multivitamins. He or she can give advice on the best prenatal vitamins for your particular pregnancy.

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What are Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are just like ordinary multivitamins – there are different brands, colors, shapes and you can even find chewable prenatal vitamins for those who don't like swallowing large pills. The difference between prenatal and regular vitamins is that prenatal vitamins contain more of the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy fetal development. These include:

  • Folic acid. Folic acid prenatal supplementation is important because folic acid is instrumental in development of a fetus' spinal cord, brain and skull. It's recommended that women increase their intake of folic acid even before they become pregnant, as this vitamin is important during the first month of pregnancy.
  • Vitamin B12. The amount of vitamin B12 in pregnancy vitamins works alongside folic acid in producing red blood cells and in preventing birth defects.
  • Iron. Women need even more iron during pregnancy than usual, particularly during the last three months. Developing fetuses can build up iron reserves during this time to be used when they are born. New mothers can also benefit from extra iron intake during pregnancy to help replenish red blood cells.

Prenatal vitamins also contain smaller doses of vitamins and minerals that could be harmful to fetuses in large doses, such as vitamin A. Vitamin C in pregnancy vitamins is also controlled, as too much of this vitamin may increase the chance of a preterm birth.

Prescription Prenatal Vitamins

Many prenatal vitamins are available over the counter, and are perfectly suitable for most pregnancies. In some cases, doctors may prescribe specific prenatal vitamins for mothers who are high risk or who are shown to be lacking in various nutrients. Prescription prenatal vitamins often contain higher doses of specific ingredients than over-the-counter vitamins.

While it's beneficial to try these vitamins if your doctor prescribes them, some women have trouble tolerating the larger doses and find themselves suffering from nausea, constipation and upset stomach. It's important to report any of these side effects to your doctor, so he or she can re-evaluate your need and possibly alter your prenatal vitamin plan or pregnancy diet.