Prenatal Vitamins: Know Importance And How to Choose

Prenatal Vitamins: Know Importance And How to Choose

20 Sep 2021 | 7 min Read

Dr Sulbha Arora

Author | 2 Articles

Medically reviewed by

Dr Namrata Rajput

The best method to receive the vitamins and minerals during pregnancy is to follow certain balanced diet meals. However, during pregnancy, there can be certain nutrients missing in your body. Prenatal vitamins there come in action that fills up the gaps if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. Let’s understand more about them, their importance and how to choose them further to stay healthy during this phase. 

What are Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal Vitamins during Pregnancy are the supplements that are usually recommended to a pregnant woman as well as who is planning to conceive. Prenatal vitamins for women promote healthy pregnancy by filling up the nutritional deficiencies by adding required vitamins and minerals to their bodies. Doctors usually advise them at the start of the pregnancy, depending upon your nutritional requirements. Thus, it is good to take prenatal vitamins to cover up any nutritional gap alongside healthy foods.

Why Prenatal Vitamins Are Important?

You require more folic acid and iron during pregnancy than usual. Here is why:

  • Folic acid aids in the prevention of neural tube abnormalities: These are the significant brain and spinal cord abnormalities in the fetus. You should start taking additional folic acid at least three months before you plan to get pregnant.

  • The placenta and the fetus both benefit from iron: Iron aids in the production of blood, which provides oxygen to the fetus. It further helps in the prevention of anaemia, a disorder characterised by a low number of healthy red blood cells in the blood.

What to Look for in the Best Prenatal Vitamins

Folic Acid During Pregnancy

Folic acid is one of the most important vitamins that every pregnant woman should take care of. It is one of the B Vitamins that is responsible for developing a baby’s brain and spinal cord. The risk of neural tube defects is higher in early pregnancy if you have a folic acid deficiency; therefore, medical experts recommend starting prenatal vitamins with Folic Acid right from the first day of the pregnancy, preferably even before you conceive, and continuing it till the 12th week.

If this is your second pregnancy, and if you’ve had a baby with a neural tube defect, you should share this information with your doctor. Your doctor may increase the dosage of Folic Acid depending upon the situation you’ve faced earlier.

Foods that have Folic Acid are listed below:

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Citrus fruits
  • Beans

Though folic acid can be gained from its natural sources, however, during the pregnancy, the requirement is increased. Therefore, folic acid supplements are recommended.

Calcium in Pregnancy

Calcium is highly essential for a pregnant woman. It prevents losing bone density in an expecting mother and helps develop bones and muscles in the baby. There are several natural sources of calcium that can be consumed as a part of a nutritionally balanced diet. They are:

  • Cheese
  • Yoghurt
  • Lentils
  • Almonds
  • Figs
  • Milk

You may talk to your doctor about how much calcium is needed for your body to keep your pregnancy healthy and safe.

Iron Requirement During Pregnancy

Proper iron intake is very crucial during pregnancy. Your body needs iron to maintain adequate haemoglobin levels. Additionally, this iron intake helps more blood formation to supply proper oxygen to your baby. Therefore, it is said that a pregnant woman requires double the amount of iron in comparison to any non-pregnant woman. Sufficient levels of Iron in your body will also prevent anaemia, which is one of the pregnancy complications. You can maintain iron levels from its natural sources. Still, it is recommended to have prescribed iron supplements from the doctor.

Iodine During Pregnancy

Iodine is a necessary nutrient for your baby’s brain, bones, and nervous system throughout pregnancy. When you’re pregnant or nursing, you need more iodine than normal. Iodine is found in dairy products, eggs, and shellfish, and roughly half of all table salt is iodine-enhanced to avoid deficiency.

Omega 3 During Pregnancy

Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to the pregnancy process. It prevents preterm labour and delivery, lowering the risk of preeclampsia with EPA and DHA consumption

What About Other Nutrients? 

Other than folic acid, omega 3, and others, vitamin D also aids in the development of a baby’s bones and teeth by boosting calcium absorption. All pregnant and non-pregnant women should consume 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D every day. However, it’s also important to remember that taking too much of a supplement might be dangerous. 

Another important dietary concern during pregnancy is hydration. Your body requires even more water to stay hydrated and support the life inside you when you are pregnant. So, it’s important to drink plenty of water every day.

When to Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?

The best time to start prenatal vitamins is before conception. However, if your pregnancy is unplanned, it is essential to start taking Folic acid right from day 1 of pregnancy. But if you aren’t sure about the pregnancy, you can opt for a pregnancy test at home or confirm pregnancy with other tests

Best Prenatal Vitamins to Take?

Look for a prenatal vitamin that contains calcium and vitamin D in addition to folic acid and iron. They aid in the development of the teeth and bones of the newborn. The best prenatal vitamin for women should consist of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc, and iodine.

Do Prenatal Vitamins Cause Side-effects?

Sometimes, iron supplements make you feel constipated. Therefore, to avoid constipation and heartburn, you should drink plenty of fresh water in a day. Simultaneously, include more fiber foods in your diet. And stay active as much as possible. If it still doesn’t help, talk to your doctor about a stool softener.


Is it OK to Take Prenatal Vitamins if You Are Not Pregnant?

Prenatal vitamins can be taken even if you aren’t planning to become pregnant, but they aren’t suggested long-term usage.

What do Prenatal Vitamins do?  

Prenatal vitamins for women provide all of the daily vitamins and minerals that a pregnant woman’s body needs before and during pregnancy. It ensures that your growing baby receives what they need as well.

When Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins? 

You can start taking a daily prenatal vitamin as soon as you decide to conceive. Prenatal Vitamins should be started at least one month before conception, especially during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the baby’s growth is most important.

Can Prenatal Vitamins Cause Miscarriage?

According to research, 32% of women were more likely to miscarry if they used the supplements frequently in the six weeks of conception.

What Should You Avoid When Taking Prenatal Vitamins?

Vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E in high dosages can be harmful, and these vitamins should not be taken as supplements during pregnancy. It’s also advised to stay away from meals that are strong in vitamin A.


But while taking prenatal vitamins and supplements during pregnancy, keep in mind that you should avoid taking them in higher doses. It can also affect the baby. So take them in sufficient quantities. You can also take bitter gourd in pregnancy which isn’t harmful but beneficial for both mother and baby. 

Also Read in HIndi – प्रसवपूर्व मल्टीविटामिन्स का महत्व

#pregnancymustknows #pregnancyfoods

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