Prenatal Vitamins: What You Need to Know

Prenatal vitamins can be invaluable in your pregnancy journey, but with so many products on the market, selecting the right one can be intimidating. Today, we’ll review everything you need to know about prenatal vitamins to help you make the most informed decision for you and your growing baby!

What Are Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are supplements specially formulated to support pregnant and breastfeeding women and their growing babies. They typically contain higher concentrations of essential fetal development nutrients like folic acid, iron, and calcium than general multivitamins.

Why Are Prenatal Vitamins Essential?

As your body adjusts to support the development of your little one, prenatal vitamins can ensure you’re receiving all the nutrition your fetus requires – even if your diet falls short.

Folic acid is one of the key prenatal vitamins and should be consumed regularly before and throughout early pregnancy to protect against neural tube defects. Women should take 400 to 800 micrograms (mcg) daily before and during early gestation.

Prenatal vitamins also usually include iron, which is essential for producing red blood cells that carry oxygen to your baby and you during pregnancy. Women often become anemic during gestation, so consuming sufficient iron through prenatal vitamins is crucial to avoid this.

Calcium is another essential ingredient in prenatal vitamins. Your baby needs it to build strong bones and teeth during pregnancy. If you don’t get enough calcium, your body could take it from your bones, increasing your risk of osteoporosis later in life.

How Soon Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?

The best time to start taking prenatal vitamins is when you first start planning to conceive. But, for most of us, these things don’t always turn out as planned.

If you discover you’re pregnant but haven’t taken prenatal vitamins yet, don’t panic! It’s not too late. Start taking your vitamins as soon as possible to ensure the best health for you and your child.

How to Take Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins should be taken daily. Follow the dosage instructions listed on the label, as an excess of certain nutrients (such as vitamin A) could potentially harm your child. Pro tip: Your vitamins don’t have to be taken first thing in the morning. If you experience nausea, try taking them at night instead.

If you have trouble swallowing pills, try finding a prenatal vitamin in chewable or liquid form, or crush one and mix it into food or drinks as an alternative method.

Finding a Prenatal Vitamin

The best prenatal vitamin for you depends on your personal needs and preferences. We recommend speaking to your doctor before making your decision, but here are some general guidelines.

Your daily prenatal vitamin should have at least:

  • 400 mcg of folic acid
  • 27 mg of iron
  • 200 mg of calcium

Prenatal Vitamins – Our Picks:

Ritual Essential Prenatal ($39, shop here)

Ritual’s Essential Prenatals ship straight to your door for a subscription fee, so you won’t forget to take them. The capsules are timed-release to avoid nausea and can be taken anytime with or without food!

Care/of Prenatal ($19, shop here)

Care/of takes a personalized approach to vitamins, shipping 30-day supplies of individually wrapped vitamins tailored to you. The vitamins contain 22 essential nutrients and are designed for easy digestion.

OLLY The Essential Prenatal Gummy ($14, shop here)

If you struggle with swallowing pills or experience heavy nausea, Olly gummy vitamins are the perfect solution. They include folic acid and DHA and are gentle on the stomach with a belly-friendly citrus flavor!

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