When Should You Start Taking A Prenatal Vitamin
Prenatal vitamins arent just for pregnant peopletheyre for people trying to get pregnant, too. ACOG recommends taking a prenatal vitamin that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid at least one month before becoming pregnant.
Begin taking prenatal vitamins when you start tryingdont wait until youre pregnant, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. I encourage all my patients to take folic acid supplementation before they conceiveat least 400 micrograms per dayas we know that women on folic acid supplementation can significantly reduce the risk of certain birth defects like spina bifida.
And even if youre not trying to conceive, if youre not using contraception, you could become pregnant if youre having sex, she says, adding if youre not using contraception, you should take a prenatal vitamin just in case.
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The Best Vitamins To Take While Pregnant
Gaby Vaca-Flores, RDN, CLE, shares recommended vitamins to take while pregnant. Plus: additional supplements for a healthy pregnancy, other prenatal nutritional needs, and vitamins to avoid during pregnancy.
Is it safe to take vitamins during pregnancy?
This is one of the most common questions that dietitians get from expectant and new mothers. Its no secret that proper nourishment can better optimize your pre and postnatal care. But exactly which vitamins and supplements should you take during pregnancy?
In this article, were bringing things back to science-backed basics. When it comes to supplements and pregnancy, heres the information you need to have a safe and healthy term.
**This information should not be used in lieu of professional medical advice. Always follow guidance from your OB-GYN and/or primary care physician.
Inside this article:
Continued Supplementation Throughout Pregnancy
Canadian survey data show that it is difficult for most women of childbearing age to consume enough folate from diet alone to meet their pregnancy needs. Over 75% of non-pregnant/non-breastfeeding women aged 19 50 have intakes less than the Estimated Average Requirement Footnote 10 for pregnancy, 520 mcg of DFEs . To meet folate needs during pregnancy, women should consume a varied diet that provides dietary folate , and continue taking a multivitamin containing 400 mcg of folic acid throughout their pregnancy.
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Nausea And Vomiting During Pregnancy
Nausea and vomiting, especially morning sickness, are common during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester. Some suggestions that may help include:
- Eat some dry bread, biscuits or cereal before getting up in the morning. Get up slowly, avoiding sudden movements.
- Drink liquids between, rather than with, meals to avoid bloating, as this can trigger vomiting.
- Avoid large meals and greasy, highly spiced foods.
- Suck on something sour like a lemon.
- Relax, rest and get into the fresh air as much as possible. Keep rooms well ventilated and odour free.
- Try food and drinks containing ginger, such as ginger tea, as these sometimes relieve nausea.
What To Look For In Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal vitamins help ensure that you get the nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. Look for prenatal vitamins that have: 400 micrograms of folic acid
400 IU of vitamin D
200 to 300 milligrams of calcium
70 mg of vitamin C
3 mg of thiamine
6 mcg of vitamin B12
10 mg of vitamin E
15 mg of zinc
17 mg of iron
150 micrograms of iodine In some cases, your doctor will give you a prescription for a certain type of prenatal vitamin.
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No Need For Extra Calcium During Pregnancy
Until 2006, Australian dietary recommendations advised increased calcium intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This advice has since been revised. Although the baby has a high requirement for calcium during the third trimester of pregnancy , the mothers increased capacity to absorb dietary calcium means that there is no need for extra intake.The recommended dietary intake for non-pregnant women remains unchanged during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Dairy foods and calcium-fortified soy milk are excellent dietary sources of calcium.
Do I Need To Take Supplements
It’s recommended that all pregnant women in Australia take folic acid, iodine and vitamin D supplements.
Having a healthy diet is important and should provide you with the other nutrients you need. Check the Australian Dietary Guidelines for more advice. However, some pregnant women may need supplements of other nutrients besides folic acid, iodine and vitamin D.
If you have a known deficiency, your doctor might advise you to take a supplement. For example:
- if you are vegetarian or vegan and not getting enough vitamin B12
- if you don’t get enough calcium, which is vital for bone health, from dairy or other calcium-rich foods
- if you are low in iron
- if you may be low in omega-3 fatty acids, e.g. if you eat very little seafood
If you’re not sure whether you need a supplement, talk to your doctor.
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Schedule Your Appointment Today
Taking prenatal vitamins and following a healthy diet can lead to a healthy pregnancy and support your babys growth. There are various prenatals to choose from, but Dr. Ellman will be happy to find a prenatal vitamin that works best for your body.
Dr. Ellman is a high-risk OB/GYN doctor who established his medical practice in South Florida over 25 years ago. Book your appointment today.
Folic Acid Helps Prevent Some Birth Defects. .
Shmerling, R. H. & Shmerling, A. . Fertility and diet: Is there a connection? Wilson, D., et al. . Pre-conception Folic Acid and Multivitamin Supplementation for the Primary and Secondary Prevention of Neural Tube Defects and Other Folic Acid-Sensitive Congenital Anomalies .
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How Can I Get Enough Folic Acid
How can women of childbearing age and especially those who are planning a pregnancy get enough folic acid every day?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires food-makers to add folic acid to their enriched grain products. So you can boost your intake by eating breakfast cereals, breads, pastas, and rice that have 100% of the recommended daily folic acid allowance. Check the products label for this information.
But for most women, eating fortified foods isnt enough. To reach the recommended daily level, youll probably need a vitamin supplement. During pregnancy, you need more of all of the essential nutrients than you did before you became pregnant.
Prenatal vitamins shouldnt replace a well-balanced diet. But taking them can give your body and your baby an added boost of vitamins and minerals. Some health care providers recommend taking a folic acid supplement in addition to a prenatal vitamin. Talk to your doctor about your daily folic acid intake. He or she might recommend a prescription supplement, an over-the-counter brand, or both.
Also talk to your doctor if youve already had a pregnancy that was affected by a neural tube defect or if you or your partner were affected by one yourselves. The doctor may recommend that you take a higher dose of folic acid .
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When Should I Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins
In fact, its often best to take a prenatal vitamin every day if theres a chance you could get pregnant at all, even if youre not planning for it. Thats because crucial neurological development takes place during the first month of pregnancy, when folic acid would offer the most protective benefits.
I recommend starting prenatal vitamins as soon as you start thinking of trying to conceive. Ideally three months before conception, Dr. Nwankwo says.
If youre planning on breastfeeding, Dr. Nwankwo recommends you continue to take your prenatal vitamins for a minimum of about six months, if not throughout.
If youre already pregnant and havent been taking prenatal vitamins, no need to worry! Just start as soon as you can.
Prenatal Vitamins Supplement Not Replace A Balanced Diet
Any balanced diet will contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, but you should still take a prenatal vitamin to make sure that you are getting enough of the nutrients your body and your baby needs. Additionally, since prenatal vitamins are formulated with the idea that the person taking them is eating a healthy diet, there is no need to seek out additional vitamin supplements in any form, be it a pill, diet drink, or fortified smoothie. Be sure to let your doctor know if you use any of these products so you can be certain you are not getting too much of a good thing.
How To Choose The Best Prenatal Vitamins
When shopping for prenatal vitamins, look for these four primary nutrients that are especially important during pregnancy, per Dr. Nwankwo and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
- Folic acid: 600 mcg Helps with neural tube development and can help prevent neural tube defects like Spina Bifida.
- Iron: 27 mg Helps to prevent anemia, which can affect delivery of oxygen to the baby via red blood cells.
- Calcium: 1,000 mg Helps with bone health. Keep in mind that most prenatal vitamins dont contain this much calcium, so if you dont get enough from your diet, talk to your doctor about taking a separate calcium supplement.
- Vitamin D: 600 IU Helps support healthy bone development and your immune system.
The following vitamins are also essential during pregnancy, and you may not get enough of them through diet alone. Having these in your prenatals are helpful too:
- Vitamin A: 770 mcg
- Vitamin C: 85 mg
- Vitamin B12: 2.6 mcg
- Choline: 450 mg
Consider it a bonus if you find a prenatal vitamin that also contains omega-3 fatty acids. Theres strong evidence indicating that omega-3 fatty acids a fat found in some types of fishmay play an important role in the development of your babys brain and nervous system. The March of Dimes recommends you get 200 mg of DHA a day through diet or supplementation.
Prenatal Vitamins Not Just For Women Who Are Already Pregnant
Prenatal vitamins are not exclusive to the nine months of pregnancy. It is prudent to begin taking prenatal vitamins before you get pregnant so that you and your baby receive maximum nutrition during the first few weeks of pregnancy when fetal development is at its most active, which is often before many women are even aware that they are pregnant. Your health care provider may also recommend that you continue taking prenatal vitamins for several months after the baby is born, especially if you are breastfeeding.
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Essential Supplements For Pregnant Women
Your midwife will be able to give you tailored advice but generally speaking, all pregnant women in the UK should at least take Folic Acid supplements for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. At this stage your babys spine will be fully developed so there is no need to continue taking Folic Acid. Some women, however, choose to continue taking this supplement throughout the duration of their pregnancy, which is fine, as it wont harm the baby at all. Folic Acid supplements are also recommended for those who are trying to conceive.
In Scotland, where prescriptions are free, Folic Acid will be provided to you by your midwife at your very first appointment. In the rest of the UK, it may be prescribed to you, or you can pick it up at almost all pharmacies with a vitamins section and even on the shelves of your local supermarket.
Supplements To Take During Pregnancy
Many patients ask us if taking supplements in pregnancy is necessary. It is true that,â¯with a balanced diet, the main nutritional requirements are covered. Ever since the industrial revolution, we have seen a decline in the quality of many foods. As a result, some of them become products rather than real food. That is why there may be a deficiency of manyâ¯micronutrients essentialâ¯at a time of high metabolic demand, such as pregnancy.
These are the main elements that cannot be missing during pregnancy for the correct development of the newborn:
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Why Take Pregnancy Vitamins And Supplements
You may need vitamins and supplements if you:
- Have food allergies or dietary restrictions, such as a vegan diet
- Dont eat a well-balanced diet. Your doctor may recommend supplements if your diet is low in nutrients.
- Are pregnant with twins or other multiples
- Have nutrient deficiencies
- Smoke or abuse alcohol or drugs
Folic Acid And Pregnancy
Folate is a B-group vitamin found in a variety of foods. Folic acid helps protect against neural tube defects in the developing foetus. It is important for pregnant women to make sure they are receiving enough of this important vitamin. For women who are planning a pregnancy, and during the first 3 months of pregnancy, a daily folic acid supplement of 500 micrograms is recommended, as well as eating foods that are naturally rich in folate or are fortified with folic acid.
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What Do Prenatal Vitamins Do
If youre wondering, What do prenatal vitamins do?Do prenatal vitamins substitute a healthy diet? read on.
Prenatal vitamins are not substitutes for a healthy diet, as you still need to consume foods rich in nutrients and minerals. They help maintain the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to support your pregnancy.
Be sure to discuss with your doctor to determine when to start taking prenatal vitamins and which formulas they recommend. If you take more than the recommended dose, you can harm your baby. Some of their nutrients include:
- Folic acid: It is a B vitamin that pregnant women need to help their baby grow and develop. It can also prevent birth defects. You can take between 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid every day.
- Iron: Patients need to take 27 milligrams of iron a day, asit supplies oxygen to the fetus and supports the placentas development. It can also prevent anemia, a condition in which you dont have enough healthy red blood cells.
- Calcium: We recommend taking 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. This helps the baby to develop its bones, muscles, and teeth.
- Docosahexaenoic acid : This is an omega-3 fatty acid that can prevent pregnancy-related complications.
- Zinc: It reduces preterm births.
- Vitamin A: Helps with eye development. Patients can take e700mcg a day. If you take it in large doses it can cause birth defects.
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Dont Stop Taking Your Prenatal Vitamins
Sometimes people experience discomfort when taking prenatal vitamins. Queasiness and constipation are common complaints, and some people struggle with swallowing large pills. It might be tempting to quit but it is very important that you keep taking a daily prenatal vitamin as advised through your pregnancy. Tell your doctor about any difficulties you are experiencing and they will help devise solutions for taking your prenatal vitamins without the unpleasant side effects.
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Women Of Reproductive Age Need 400 Mcg Of Folic Acid Every Day
- All women of reproductive age should get 400 mcg of folic acid every day to get enough folic acid to help prevent some birth defects because
- About half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, and
- Major birth defects of the babys brain or spine occur very early in pregnancy , before most women know they are pregnant.
- When taking folic acid, a higher dose than 400 mcg of folic acid each day is not necessarily better to prevent neural tube defects, unless a doctor recommends taking more due to other health conditions.
- When planning to become pregnant, women who have already had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect should consult with their healthcare provider. CDC recommends that these women consume 4,000 mcg of folic acid each day one month before becoming pregnant and through the first 3 months of pregnancy.
Best Overall: Thorne Research Basic Prenatal
If youre looking for an excellent overall prenatal, Thornes Basic Prenatal is the top pick, particularly for its highly absorbable form of folate. Adequate intake of folate is known to support the healthy development of the fetuss organs and tissues. In addition, it is especially critical for the closure of the neural tube, which is the precursor to the brain and spinal cord.
Though many foods like cereal, bread, and grains are enriched with folic acid and other b vitamins, supplementation is still recommended for pregnant women, as their need for this nutrient becomes 50 percent higher.
It is recommended that women consume 600 micrograms of supplemental folic acid, in addition to the folate found in food. Thornes Basic Prenatal contains 1,000 micrograms of metabolically active folic acid283 percent of the recommended daily intake for folate. In addition, this prenatal is gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and artificial flavor-free.
Thornes facility is NSF- and cGMP-compliant and they rigorously test for 760 contaminants to verify the identity, potency, and purity of each ingredient listed on their product labels.
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