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 Prenatal Vitamins: The Reason They Matter, How to Choose


Are you wondering about whether to take prenatal vitamins or what to do if they lead to constipation?

It takes a healthy diet to get the best vitamins and minerals you need. However, getting pregnant can cause you to lose some nutrients. If you’re already pregnant or planning to conceive, go for prenatal vitamins as a way of filling the gaps.

Why are prenatal vitamins important?

When you’re pregnant, your body needs more folic acid and iron than usual. Here’s the reason:

  • Folic acid is great at preventing neural tube defects. Defects here means serious abnormalities of the fetal brain and spinal cord. Preferably, start taking extra folic acid at least 3 months into your pregnancy.
  • Iron boosts placenta and fetus development. Iron helps your body produce the blood needed for the supply of oxygen to the fetus. Besides, iron also helps prevent anemia.

Which prenatal vitamin is best?

Your health care provider may recommend a particular brand or leave the choice for you to make.

Apart from checking for folic acid and iron, get a prenatal vitamin that contains calcium and vitamin D for the development of the baby’s teeth and bones.

Also look for a prenatal vitamin which contains vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc and iodine.

Additionally, your health care provider might suggest that you take higher doses of certain nutrients based on the circumstances. For instance, if you’ve given birth to a baby who has a neural tube defect, your doctor might recommend a separate supplement which contains a higher dose of folic acid. A good example is 4 milligrams (4,000 micrograms) both before and during any subsequent pregnancies.

But generally, avoid taking extra prenatal vitamins or multivitamins with dosing in a much higher quantity than what you need daily. High doses of some vitamins may be unsafe for your baby. For instance, extra vitamin during pregnancy can be potentially harmful to your baby.

Do I need to be concerned about other nutrients?

A type of fat called omega-3 fatty acids found naturally in different fish species can help promote a baby’s brain development. If you’re not eating fish or other foods with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, your doctor might recommend omega-3 fatty acid supplements to add to prenatal vitamins.

When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?

Preferably, you’ll begin taking prenatal vitamins before conception. It’s typically a good idea for women of reproductive age to take a prenatal vitamin regularly. The baby’s neural tube, that becomes the brain and spinal cord, usually develops during the first month of pregnancy. That’s means even before you realize your conception.

Do prenatal vitamins have any side effects?

At times, the iron in prenatal vitamins leads to constipation. To prevent constipation:

  • Include more fiber in your diet
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Ask your doctor about using a stool softener
  • Include physical activity in your everyday routine, if your healthcare provider approves it


If the tips above fail to help you, ask your health care provider if there are any other available options.


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