Pregnant? Congratulations! The next few months are going to be filled with excitement and anticipation, and yes, a lot of learning. One of the first things to learn about are the benefits of prenatal vitamins for both you and your baby. After all, you may be questioning the importance of prenatal vitamins overall and wondering, what are prenatal vitamins good for?
While pregnancy can sometimes feel filled with things you can’t control, like sleepless nights, nausea, and back pain–one of the many benefits of prenatals is that they help your body get the nourishment support you need during pregnancy. As an expecting parent you will want to do everything you can to ensure the best health of your baby and taking prenatal vitamins is a great starting point.
If you’re wondering whether or not it’s time for you to begin taking prenatal vitamins, why they are important, and why you should take them — here’s what we know:
What Are The Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins Before Pregnancy?
Though the term prenatal refers to “before birth,” prenatal vitamins can actually be taken even before conception, and it’s often recommended that any woman who is preparing to try to conceive or undergo fertility treatments begin taking prenatal vitamins daily. If you are wondering if it is OK to take prenatal vitamins if you are not pregnant, the answer is yes and it is actually recommended by the CDC to start before you conceive.
When Should I Take Prenatal Vitamins?
Taking prenatal vitamins from the moment you find out you are pregnant is extremely important, and it’s even more Ideal before conception as fetal development evolves rapidly from conception. The Mayo Clinic agrees, explaining, “'It’s generally a good idea for women of reproductive age to regularly take a prenatal vitamin. The baby's neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy — perhaps before you even know that you're pregnant.” Vitamins and minerals that encourage healthy development of the neural tube include iodine, choline, and folic acid.The CDC recommends taking extra folic acid at least one month before you become pregnant to help prevent birth defects of brain and spine.
Of course, not every woman who becomes pregnant has planned ahead of time, so taking prenatal vitamins before pregnancy as soon as a pregnancy is known is recommended in order to ensure your body has key nutrients.
What Is the Difference Between Regular and Prenatal Vitamins?
Taking prenatal vitamins regularly is an important component of a healthy pregnancy. If you already take a comprehensive multivitamin as part of your daily wellness routine, that’s great! Your body’s unique nutritional needs change through the phases of pregnancy, and are more often than not, not met by diet alone. Even a super healthy one.
Prenatal vitamins are specifically formulated with the needs of mom and baby in mind. Prenatal vitamins often contain different nutrients and minerals than a typical multivitamin, and varying doses of each, to be tailored to the needs of pregnancy. They can help support the health of the mother and developing baby and support nutrition before and during pregnancy.* They even can work to prevent certain birth defects that are linked to malnutrition or vitamin deficiency.
Which Vitamins and Minerals Are Important During Pregnancy?
Essential vitamins and nutrients in pregnancy include folic acid or folate, calcium, iron, iodine, choline, Vitamins A, C, D, B6, and B12 to support the health of a developing baby.*
In fact, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists does a great job outlining each key vitamin and mineral, the reasons why they are important, and providing nutritional sources for these nutrients as well. They recommend 600 micrograms of daily folic acid during pregnancy which can be achieved by taking a prenatal with at least 400 micrograms.
Another very important nutrient during pregnancy is iron. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists “Iron is used by your body to make the extra blood that you and your fetus need during pregnancy. Pregnant women need more, 27 mg per day. This increased amount is found in most prenatal vitamins.”
Having healthy stores of these vitamins and minerals readily available, as early as possible, is key. But don’t worry — if you weren’t already taking them, it is never too late to start. Just make sure you let your doctor know before switching to anything new, or if you have any other nutritional concerns.
What to Look For in a Prenatal Vitamin
If you’re struggling with nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy, you aren’t alone. In this case, finding a formula without any aftertaste may be helpful. These days, vitamins are available in so many forms — pill, powder, liquid, gummies, etc. Much more important than the form, though, is the formula.
Why Should I Take Prenatal Vitamins?
The bottom line? Prenatal vitamins are very important before and during pregnancy. They’re an extra (and easy!) step to add to your routine that will help ensure you and your growing baby has the nutritional support you need for a healthy pregnancy. When the time comes to finally meet your little one, you can then switch to a postnatal vitamin to continue to support the changes in your body.
*"These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."