Reproductive Health

Prenatal Vitamins

2 min read

What are they? How do they work?
Prenatal vitamins are recommended for those who are planning to become pregnant. Combined with a healthy diet, prenatal vitamins help ensure you are getting the key vitamins and nutrients needed to support a healthy pregnancy.

How are they different than other vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins typically contain more folic acid and iron than women’s multivitamins.

Folic acid is important in preventing neural tube defects (abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord). It is recommended that anyone trying to get pregnant take at least 400mcg of folic acid per day starting before they conceive and throughout their pregnancy.

Other nutrients and vitamins that are particularly important and found in standard prenatal vitamins include iron, which can help prevent anemia, as well as vitamin D and calcium.

It is also recommended those who are pregnant take in about 200-300 mg per day of DHA through their diet. Typically this can be achieved through 2 to 3 servings per week of fish that are high in DHA and low in mercury. If you are unable to take in this amount through your diet, there are supplements that contain DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids. Although it is not known if taking DHA as a supplement is helpful, it is not likely to be harmful.

Your health care provider might also suggest other nutrients and/or specific doses of certain vitamins depending on your unique circumstances.

When should I start taking them?
It is highly recommended to start taking prenatal vitamins before conception - ideally, starting at least 3 months before conception. This is because a baby’s neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy - often before someone knows they’re pregnant.

How long should I take them?
Generally, it is advised to continue taking prenatal vitamins throughout your pregnancy and during breastfeeding.

If you become pregnant, it’s important to talk to your doctor about all vitamins and supplements you are taking.

Can I take them while I’m on birth control?
Yes! You can take prenatal vitamins while on birth control.

Can/should I take them if I’m not planning on getting pregnant anytime soon?
If you are taking birth control (accurately) to prevent pregnancy, it’s not necessary to take prenatal vitamins. However, if there is a chance you could get pregnant, it is advised to take prenatal vitamins.

Some people take prenatal vitamins without trying to get pregnant to boost their overall health and support healthy hair, skin and nails. This can be a positive side effect of getting the nutrients your body needs. However similar effects can be seen from eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and/or taking a multivitamin.  

Do they have side effects?
Some people feel queasy after taking prenatal vitamins. In this case, it’s best to take with a snack or before going to bed.

In other cases, the iron in prenatal vitamins can sometimes contribute to constipation. To avoid this side effect, drink plenty of fluids, include fiber in your diet and make sure you’re including physical activity in your daily routine.

Where can I get them?
Prenatal vitamins are available over the counter or through your doctor (including your Twentyeight doctor)!

You do not need a prescription for most prenatal vitamins but one benefit of receiving a prescription is your insurance may cover it.

Looking for more personalized info? Message a doctor through Twentyeight to get medical advice based on your needs and lifestyle.

With the participation of
Dr. Alejandra Moscoso

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