Wonder if you need to take prenatal vitamins? Which brand is best? Or what to do if they make you queasy? Get answers to these questions and more.
A healthy diet is the best way to get the vitamins and minerals you need — but even if you eat a healthy diet, you might fall short on key nutrients. If you’re pregnant or hoping to conceive, prenatal vitamins can help fill any gaps.
How are prenatal vitamins different from other vitamins?
- Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects. These defects are serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
- Iron supports the baby’s growth and development. Iron also helps prevent anemia, a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells.
In addition, some research suggests that prenatal vitamins decrease the risk of having a baby who is small for his or her gestational age.
Do I need to be concerned about other nutrients?
Calcium and vitamin D are important as well — especially during the third trimester, when your baby’s bones are rapidly growing and strengthening.
Which brand of prenatal vitamins is best?
- Folic acid
It also might be beneficial to look for a prenatal vitamin that contains vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc and copper.
Remember, prenatal vitamins are a complement to a healthy diet — not a substitute for good nutrition. Prenatal vitamins won’t necessarily meet 100 percent of your vitamin and mineral needs.
In addition, your health care provider might suggest higher doses of certain nutrients depending on the circumstances. For example, if you’ve given birth to a baby who has a neural tube defect, your health care provider might recommend a separate supplement containing a higher dose of folic acid — such as 4 milligrams (4,000 micrograms) — before and during any subsequent pregnancies.