Before prenatal multivitamins, begin with a balanced, healthy diet
Prenatal multivitamin and mineral supplements are an important part of pregnancy nutrition but should not replace a healthy diet. Discuss prenatal supplementation with your health care professional.
Even if you are eating well, the amount of many of the important nutrients you should eat daily increases during pregnancy and might be difficult to obtain from your diet alone. The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) guidelines recommend that you increase your intake of protein, iron, folic acid, vitamins A, B6, B12, and C, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, fiber, and more. If your daily diet is not able to meet this increased vitamin and mineral intake, prenatal multivitamin and mineral supplements will help you fill the gaps.
Why you need key prenatal nutrients
Prenatal multivitamins can help pregnant women maintain their nutrient intake.
Here are a few key nutrients and why they are important:
- Folic acid helps develop the central nervous system including brain, spinal cord, and other nerve cells and tissues; it is critical during the first trimester.
- Iron is needed in blood to help oxygenate all other tissues in the body including brain and muscle cells; it is critical throughout pregnancy.
- Calcium is an integral component of the baby's bones and teeth and it helps strengthen the circulatory, muscular, and nervous systems.
Prenatal multivitamins help make sure you're getting enough nutrients
Consider prenatal multivitamins your backup plan in case you miss any of the nutrients throughout the day. Prenatal multivitamins provide essential nutrients, of which you might not consume enough.
Your doctor can help you decide which prenatal vitamin and mineral supplement is best for you.
Tips for taking prenatal multivitamins
- Always begin by consulting your health care provider about nutritional needs and any nutrient supplements you want to take while pregnant or later, when you are breastfeeding.
- Compare nutrients in prenatal multivitamin tablet, liquid, and chewable forms to be sure they contain all of the necessary nutrients.
- Make it convenient by keeping prenatal multivitamins in clear sight to make them part of your daily routine.
- Take prenatal multivitamins with a meal or snack, or before bedtime to help counter possible nausea.
- Take supplements ONLY as directed in the dose your doctor recommends. Too much of even a good thing can be harmful to you or your baby.
- Choose a prenatal multivitamin and mineral supplement designed for pregnancy rather than a regular multivitamin to get the increased levels of nutrients specifically needed during pregnancy. Your doctor can make a recommendation.
Prenatal multivitamins and a healthy diet: the perfect pair
Remember, no vitamin or mineral supplements can replace a healthy diet. But by supplementing your healthy eating habits with prenatal multivitamins, you can meet your own nutrient needs while giving your baby a strong start.