Taking prenatal vitamins is one of the easiest ways to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy. The balanced formulas in prenatal vitamin supplements are especially formulated for the needs at this time when your body provides for two.
You should start taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you find out that you are expecting. Our modern diet often does not keep up with the demands life puts on us. Even when you eat a diet that is nutrient rich, you want to make sure that your body has adequate amounts of vitamins stored for you and the growing baby.
Prenatal vitamins provide you with the most important building blocks so your baby develops properly. One of the most important ingredients in prenatal vitamins is folic acid. Folic acid is essential for many processes that are directly needed during pregnancy.
- Production of genetic material (RNA and DNA)
- Healthy cell division and replication
- Tissue growth
- Formation of red blood cells
Prenatal vitamins usually provide 200% of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid because it is also a substance that has been proven to help in the prevention of birth defects such as harelip (one or more splits in the upper lip), and defects of the neural tube, which is the primitive beginning of the brain and spinal cord in your embryo.
If you have used oral contraceptives, it is very likely that your levels of folic acid are reduced. It is recommended that you start taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you stop taking the contraceptives to make sure you have adequate folic acid stores, or even while you still take oral contraceptives for your own health.
Folic acid works best in combination with other vitamins and minerals. Prenatal vitamins are a mix of vitamins and minerals which are optimized to help each other to get utilized by your body. Folic acid for instance is best utilized in the presence of vitamin B12 and zinc.
A complete prenatal vitamin typically provides
- Vitamin C
- Folic Acid
- Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D2
- Vitamin E
Calcium is a bulky mineral of which you need the largest quantity. A normal prenatal vitamin is not likely to have more than 5 to 20% of your daily recommended allowance because it would make the pills too big for swallowing. Talk to your doctor about your nutrition and ask which prenatal vitamin product has the best combination for your unique situation, and whether you should get an extra calcium supplement.
Some women need more iron than the prenatal vitamin provides. Don’t take more than the daily recommended amount of your prenatal vitamin. If you need to supplement iron at a higher level than the multivitamin provides, it is best to do so with a separate supplement.
You may experience nausea during pregnancy and feel that your prenatal vitamin contributes to it. Don’t let that keep you from getting the nutrients you need. Taking your supplement with a meal can increase absorption and help you with the nausea. There are many different preparations like fluid and chewable prenatal vitamins to help you. Your doctor or health care provider can help you to find a supplement that is best suited for you.