Prenatal vitamins are important supplements that you should consider taking if starting to, or even considering trying to conceive. They contain necessary vitamins and minerals that are pertinent to growing embryos and healthy babies.
There are many important elements in vitamins, but these are a few of the most pertinent aspects of it, and hopefully this provides a little motivation if you’re hesitant to start taking them!
The most commonly known vitamin in a prenatal is folic acid. It is a B vitamin and plays an integral role in cell division. It’s important in all aspects of our body, but particularly important in pregnancy as the embryo undergoes rapid growth and development.
Folic acid is found in much of our diet, but it's still recommended not only to take when pregnant but ideally at least a month prior to conceiving. It’s been shown that a deficiency in folic acid can lead to abnormal brain and spine development in the fetus. The recommended daily amount is 400mcg a day, however many over the counter brands have 800mcg/day which is fine as well. Some people may need additional amounts of folic acid or a different type of folic acid in their prenatal vitamin—usually in cases of prior complicated pregnancies or underlying health issues—if you’re not sure if you fall into this category reach out to your OB/GYN or fertility doctor to discuss it.
Iron is another important component of prenatal vitamins. Many women may be anemic, or borderline anemic, and not realize it, particularly women who have heavy periods. Pregnancy is a time in which many women become anemic, because your body is working hard to support the growing baby—and if you’re lacking or deficient in iron—it makes it harder to produce the red blood cells needed.
DHA (a type of omega 3 fatty acid) is another important element that should be taken during pregnancy. It’s a type of fatty acid that plays an important role in the nervous system and helps promote fetal brain and eye development. In recent years, it’s been shown that babies born to mothers who took DHA (and even infants who received formula with DHA) had higher visual acuity and improved learning ability. Some prenatal vitamins don’t have DHA within it, so make sure to look for one with it. Some may choose to take a second pill containing DHA in addition to your prenatal—either way are perfectly fine, with a goal of 200mg DHA per day.