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11 Prenatal Vitamins to Help Ensure a Healthy Pregnancy

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11 Prenatal Vitamins- to help ensure a healthy pregnancy. A must-read for all expecting & nursing moms.


If you’re pregnant or thinking about starting a family soon, congratulations! The first step is to schedule an appointment with your doctor. He or she will most likely recommend that you take a high-quality prenatal vitamin. There are certain essential vitamins and minerals that any prenatal vitamin worth its salt should contain. You don’t want to leave any of them out or you could be missing out on benefits to both you and your baby. This article explains the benefits that prenatal vitamins provide during each important step of your pregnancy, and when you should take them (hint: it’s not just during pregnancy).

When to Use Them?

Before You’re Pregnant: It’s perfectly OK to get started on prenatal vitamins, even while you’re trying to get pregnant. In fact, taking a prenatal vitamin before you get pregnant has many health benefits for your unborn baby. While they won’t necessarily increase your chances of getting pregnant, they will ensure that you have everything in place once you do get pregnant, so that your little embryo is starting from a strong foundation from day one.

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After Conception: Once you’re pregnant, you’ve got to consider that your baby is counting on you as their sole source of food and nutrients. You’ll want to prevent any nutritional gaps, especially in the main areas listed below. This is a time when your body will be going through major hormonal changes and shifts, and it is also a time when there will be severe nutritional demands that are hard to meet by diet alone. Of course you’ll want to do your best to eat foods that are nutrient dense, and get light exercise to make sure your body and mind are healthy and happy, but prenatal vitamins are good for setting a solid base.

While Breastfeeding: After you’ve had your baby, he or she still relys on you for the nutrients they need through your breast milk. That’s why you want to continue eating a healthy diet, and continue supplementing with prenatal vitamins, even though you’ve already given birth. There are also postnatal vitamins that you can take that are specifically designed to meet your nutritional needs after you’ve delivered, and while you’re breastfeeding.

11 Essential Prenatal Vitamins for Expecting Moms

When looking at the different brands and types of prenatal vitamins, make sure that you’re getting these specific vitamins and minerals. You may also see other nutrients included, but you’ll want to make sure that they contain these as a bare minimum.

#1 Calcium

Calcium is one very important mineral that you don’t want to be short on while you’re trying to get pregnant, during your pregnancy, and while breastfeeding. We all know that calcium helps with bones, teeth, and nails, and during the nine months of development your baby will be forming the building blocks of these as well as countless other body parts and cells. Calcium even plays a role in helping your baby’s different systems, including the cardiovascular system. It’s one mineral that you don’t want to run short on, so be sure to eat calcium-rich foods as well.

#2 Folic Acid

It’s commonly understood that your folic acid levels need to be in a healthy state throughout the entire duration of your pregnancy. But it’s important to understand why this is the case, because a strong enough why can help you to remember to take your vitamins daily. The reason folic acid is so important is because it can help to prevent birth defects if taken early on in pregnancy. It’s important to have it in your system before you get pregnant, and carry on with it all the way through pregnancy, although in varying amounts.

#3 Iron

Running a shortage of iron is not a good idea while pregnant. Even though you won’t be having your period, there’s still a big need for iron because you’ll have more blood in your system than you typically do. It’s interesting to note that both losing blood to menstruation, and increasing blood due to pregnancy can both put iron demands on your body. The placenta is also going to put a strain on your iron reserves, which is why it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough for both you and your baby.

#4 Niacin

Niacin is another important mineral that you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough of, and mostly this is needed during your pregnancy. You can scale it back once you’ve delivered and are breastfeeding, which is one reason why you should starting using a postnatal supplement instead of the prenatal one you’ll be using while pregnant. Niacin also goes by the name of vitamin B3, making it part of the B vitamin family and helps the body in several ways. Reseach shows that niacin helps improve digestion, reduce nausea, and eases morning sickness. It’s not too hard to run low on it, which is why you’re playing it safe with a good multivitamin.

#5 Riboflavin

If you’re not familiar with riboflavin and how it plays a part in your pregnancy, now is a good time to get acquainted with it. Not only will it help you feel less depleted and fatigued while you’re pregnant, it’s also going to help your baby develop, and give them the vitamins they need to grow healthy inside of you. It’s helping with important things like growth and energy utilization, so this is something you need to supply your body with every day. Unlike some vitamins like vitamin D, your body can’t build reserves of riboflavin, so you need to supplement daily.

#6 Thiamine

Thiamine supports many functions of the body that play a big role while you’re pregnant. It’s another B vitamin, which means that it’s water soluble and isn’t stored in the body. This one might be dubbed one of the most important of the bunch because it’s helping with the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. Keep a constant shortage of thiamine and you could be setting your future child up for developmental problems. Don’t let it scare you. Just be sure to top up on it while you’re pregnant.

#7 Vitamin B12

This is an important vitamin to have because it has been shown to have a direct impact on the behavior of your baby once they’re born. Research shows that vitamin B12 is needed for normal cell division and nervous sytem development, which means that your baby’s brain health depends on it. You don’t need to overdo it, as there isn’t any benefit to having excessive amounts of it in your system. In fact, you can eat foods that are high in vitamin B12 and have most of your needs met.

#8 Vitamin C

Vitamins of all types are important while pregnant, but you’ll want to pay extra special attention to your vitamin C reserves. It not only helps to make sure that you stay healthy while expecting, but it helps with the fetal development of your baby. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it will be working to battle some some of the free radical damage in the body. One study found that the fetus suffers when pregnant mothers don’t get enough vitamin C. Specifically, it affects the baby’s hippocampus, which is the area where memory formation begins.

#9 Vitamin D

Vitamin D has so many positive benefits that you simply can’t go too long without it, whether or not you’re pregnant. But since you are, or you’re trying to get there, you should definitely add it to your list of vitamins to get more of. It can affect everything from your baby’s birth weight to whether or not they have birth defects. In addition to taking supplements that contain vitamin D, you should also make it a point to get regular and limited exposure to the sun to make sure that you are producing your own natural vitamin D.

#10 Vitamin E

It’s important not to go too far with your intake of vitamin E, and perhaps you don’t need your prenatal vitamin to contain it if you’re getting enough foods with vitamin E. But vitamin E is certainly something you don’t want to be deficient in. Research shows that it is needed to help your baby grow and develop properly. As an antioxidant, it also helps reduce free radical damage to keep you healthy as well.

#11 Zinc

Zinc plays an vital role in the repairing of and production of DNA in the body. Since you are in the process of creating life embedded with DNA, it’s only natural to want to make sure that you are helping it to form without any DNA abnormalities that can lead to complications either during pregnancy or later in life.

Don’t forget the Omega-3 Fatty Acids

One emerging benefit of omega-3s is that they can help with prenatal health, and should be included as part of a comprehensive approach to creating the perfect environment for your baby.

Best Prenatal Vitamins Currently Available

Not all prenatal vitamins are created equally. There are more than a few of them out there that aren’t worth buying, and could really cause some problems due to their poor quality. Here is a selection of brands that are striving to bring you a quality product, and make sure that your baby is getting the best.

#1 Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal

This is a prenatal vitamin that hits all of the necessary vitamins and minerals. It goes above and beyond, offering support in several other important areas of the body, including digestion, your immune system, and mental health.

What’s nice about these is that you can open up the capsules and add the contents to your morning smoothie made with a combination of these superfoods. You are supposed to take three per day, and can take them with or without food, so it’s very convenient and doesn’t require a ton of forethought.

Key Highlights:

  • Contains copper in addition to Iron for skin health
  • Gluten-free
  • Supports neural tube health
  • Includes probiotics for improved digestion

Further Details: Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal by Garden of Life

#2 Prenatal Multivitamin Organics

This is a supplement to take when you first realize you want to have a baby. It has vitamins and minerals in it that will help you through your day even before you get pregnant. Once you’ve conceived, it’s going to provide you with a comprehensive assortment of everything you need to ensure things go well through all three trimesters.

This is another vitamin that can be opened and added to food in case you just don’t feel like swallowing pills on any given day. This makes it possible to add it to soups and other foods where it will dissolve nicely and you’ll be sure to get all of it.

Key Highlights:

  • Contains organic ingredients where possible
  • Supports the liver and digestive system
  • Contains accurate amounts of each nutrient based on latest research
  • Offers benefits to both baby and mother

Further Details: Prenatal Multivitamin Organics by Rainbow Light Nutritional Systems

#3 Prenatal Daily Nutrition

The biggest benefit to taking this prenatal is that they’re using whole food sources whenever they can. This means that instead of synthetic vitamins, you’re getting whole foods that the body knows how to properly assimilate and break down in the body. This makes it so you’re absorbing and using more of the vitamins it contains, and not just watching it all come out in your urine.

Even the iron it contains comes from whole food sources, so while this might be a bit pricier than some of the the other vitamins on the market, but you’re getting a higher quality of vitamin here so there’s strong value for the dollar.

Key Highlights:

  • Made with organic ingredients and whole foods
  • Gluten-free
  • No artificial additives, sweeteners, or preservatives
  • 3 tablets taken daily

Further Details: Prenatal Daily Nutrition by Realfood Organics

Prenatal Vitamin FAQ

Side Effects

Do prenatal vitamins have side effects?

There is a possibility that any supplement you take might have side effects. However,  most prenatal supplements that contain the vitamins and minerals we mentioned are safe. Side effects can arise if you get too much of a specific substance, and your body doesn’t react well to it. Be sure to take your supplement as recommended by your doctor or the label on the bottle.

Can prenatal vitamins affect a pregnancy test?

No. These vitamins are just that, vitamins and minerals and would have no bearing on the testing procedure, whether it’s an at-home test or one performed by your doctor.

Will prenatal vitamins cause acne?

Sometimes getting too much of a certain vitamin can cause irritation that might make you breakdown. However, vitamins and minerals should help with acne- not cause it. If you have skin problems due to a prenatal supplement, then stop taking it and consult your doctor. He or she might be able to recommend one that doesn’t cause skin problems.

Can prenatal vitamins affect birth control?

No. There is nothing particularly interesting in prenatal vitamins that would cause a prescription medication like birth control pills to stop working, or to work any better than they already do. You are simply getting a multivitamin tailored to the needs of an expecting woman. If you have concerns about taking prenatal vitamins along with other medications, then consult your doctor.

Do prenatal vitamins give you headaches?

If you’ve taken too many prenatal vitamins, you could be causing yourself a headache. It’s easy to get overzealous with them and think that you’re doing right by your baby by taking more of them than is recommended. But there is no benefit to taking too many vitamins, and you should only be taking what your body needs, no more.

Can prenatal vitamins affect your hormones?

Vitamins and minerals can help balance out hormones, which is helpful for pregnant women. This is one of the many reasons why taking a prenatal supplement is beneficial!

Will prenatal vitamins cause constipation?

Pregnancy hormones may cause constipation. Therefore, it’s important to drink lots of water, get adequate amounts of exercise, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables while you’re pregnant. Prenatal vitamins should not make you constipated. Look for one that contains probiotics to help regulate your bowels.

Can prenatal vitamins affect your period?

Prenatal vitamins haven’t been known to negativly affect a woman’s menstrual cycle. If anything, they can help regulate your periods and make them less painful! Certain vitamins and minerals can also help with bloating and mood swings, so it helps to eat a healthy diet (and not give into food temptations) during this time of the month.

Do prenatal vitamins cause heartburn?

It’s possible that you might experience heartburn while taking too much of any supplement. Heartburn is also a common side effect of pregnancy, so before you stop taking a prenatal vitamin, make sure it’s the vitamin and not your pregnancy causing the heartburn.

Can prenatal vitamins cause kidney stones?

It’s the extra calcium that prenatal vitamins contain that gets women to ask if they can cause kidney stones. If you are already getting sufficient amounts of calcium, opt for a prenatal that has lower amounts of it. If your kidneys are functioning properly, they should be able to handle a slight excess of calcium without forming stones. Remember, you need this extra amount of calcium for your baby’s development!

Will prenatal vitamins cause weight gain?

There is nothing in most prenatal vitamins that would suggest that they cause weight gain. Most women naturally gain up to 30 pounds to help support their baby, and this is perfectly healthy.  Try to focus on the quality of food you’re eating rather than the quantity (think more fruits and vegetables; less processed sugar), and you should put on healthy weight for you and your baby.

Will prenatal vitamins help lose weight?

If your body was struggling with nutritional deficiencies before you started taking prenatal vitamins, you may find that you start to slim down due to an improved function of many of your body’s symptoms. You’ll be getting healthy doses of vitamins that contribute to energy metabolism to help you better utilize your foods. Probiotics have been shown to help trim down bloating, so this could be a pleasant side effect of taking a prenatal.

Can prenatal vitamins cause a UTI?

There is nothing in prenatal vitamins that would lead to getting a UTI. Although UTIs are more common during pregnancy and may line up with the start of taking prenatal vitamins, which may be the cause of the misconception.

Can prenatal vitamins cause vomiting?

It’s not necessarily the prenatal vitamin that is making you vomit or feel nauseous. These are common symptoms of pregnancy. The pill may have a distinctive odor to it, especially if it is made with organic or whole food sources, which may be triggering a reaction. If you can’t seem to keep a prenatal down (especially during early pregnancy), then we recommend trying a few until you find one that agrees with you.

Can prenatal vitamins cause diarrhea?

Taking too many prenatal vitamins might have a laxative effect on the body, especially if they contain probiotics and you’re not used to them. Again, search for one that contains all of the right ingredients that agree with your body.

Do prenatal vitamins enlarge your breasts?

Prenatal vitamins often get credited with breast enlargement, but this is a natural reaction of your body as it prepares to breastfeed.

Can prenatal vitamins keep you awake?

Sleep problems are common during pregnancy, but it’s likely not the fault of your prenatal vitamin. It’s a good idea to take them during the day, as instructed by your doctor or by the manufacturer.

Fertility Issues

Can prenatal vitamins get you pregnant?

If a nutritional imbalance was stunting your ability to get pregnant, getting it fixed by taking a prenatal might be the key to pregnancy. Of course, this shouldn’t be relied on as your only method of increasing your fertility, but it’s unlikely that it would diminish your chances further.

Do prenatal vitamins improve egg quality?

While research is limited as to just how much a prenatal vitamin can affect your egg quality, it will likely make you healthier overall, which should result in better eggs.

Do prenatal vitamins increase estrogen?

Prenatal vitamins have not been shown to increase estrogen, but they may help balance hormones to help support a healthy pregnancy.

Do prenatal vitamins increase libido?

You may have more energy from the vitamin and minerals found in a quality prenatal, and also these vitamins will have you feeling good. These good feelings might spark your sex drive, but prenatal vitamins as a whole are not specifically designed to get you revved up for sex.

Baby’s Health

Do prenatal vitamins cause autism?

Not likely, and in fact, a shortage of key nutrients that are commonly found in most prenatal vitamins may reduce the chances of having a baby with autism or asperger syndrome.

Do prenatal vitamins prevent birth defects?

One of the best reasons to take a prenatal vitamin is to prevent birth defects in babies. By establishing a base of nutrients and vitamins, you’re making sure that there are no nutritional gaps for the proper development of your baby. Contrarily, if you are running a deficiency on key vitamins and minerals, your baby won’t have the essential building blocks they need to form correctly. It’s important to understand that some birth defects will happen even if you are providing the perfect environment for growth.

Can prenatal vitamins prevent down syndrome?

There is some research to show that maternal use of nutritional supplements, especially iron and folic acid, during the first month of pregnancy may lower the risk of down syndrome.

Do prenatal vitamins lower chance of miscarriage?

According to one study, women who take prenatal vitamins have a decreased risk of miscarriage when compared to women who don’t take vitamins at all.

What’s in them?

Do prenatal vitamins contain folic ccid?

Yes, any good prenatal will make sure to include folic ccid, as it’s one of the most important vitamins for fighting birth defects. The amounts will vary, so check with your doctor on your specific needs and find one that lines up accordingly.

Do prenatal vitamins contain gluten?

Most high quality prenatals will be gluten-free. They’ll also be free of other common allergens such as dairy and wheat.

Do prenatal vitamins contain iron?

Yes, a quality prenatal will contain iron because it is an essential mineral to have throughout your pregnancy. Look for a vitamin that gets its iron from natural sources.

Do prenatal vitamins have vitamin A?

Some do and some don’t. If you want to make sure that you’ve got everything covered, you can make sure that your specific brand carries it, or simply up your intake of vitamin A foods.

Do prenatal vitamins have vitamin C?

Yes, nearly every single prenatal vitamin will contain a dose of vitamin C, as this is very important for the health of both the mother and baby.

Do prenatal vitamins have vitamin D?

A quality prenatal will contain vitamin D, so be sure to check as this can be a distinguishing feature between the good and the bad. Also, you can form your own supply by getting out into the sun for a few minutes each day.

Do prenatal vitamins have vitamin K?

Prenatals should contain a good amount of all vitamins, and vitamin K is no exception. However, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker if your prenatal doesn’t include vitamin K as this is easy to get by eating lots of green, leafy vegetables.

Do prenatal vitamins contain potassium?

They may or may not contain it. You’ll need to assess your potassium needs and see if you should find one that has it. It’s a pretty easy mineral to top up on, so it’s usually not a big issue if your prenatal doesn’t contain it.

Do prenatal vitamins contain Zinc?

Yes, any good prenatal will give you a supply of zinc. Your body needs it, and so does your baby’s as it’s developing. If you are concerned about getting enough zinc, ask your doctor to test your levels to see how much you need.

Do prenatal vitamins have omega-3 in it?

They might if they are on the cutting edge or science and research. Recent studies show that it’s good to have essential fatty acids like these during pregnancy. Look for supplements that have wild fish oils as a source of omega-3.

General Questions

Can prenatal vitamins prevent pregnancy?

No. There is nothing magical or mystical about prenatal vitamins. They are similar to a multivitamin, and contain more of the things that pregnant women will need before, during, and after childbirth.

Can I buy prenatal vitamins over the counter?

Many moms-to-be wonder if prenatal vitamins have to be prescribed. You don’t need a prescription, but it’s always good to get your doctor’s advice regarding where you stand in regards to nutrition. They may be able to help you choose your prenatal based on tests that show where your different vitamin deficiencies are.

Do prenatal vitamins need to be taken with food?

Yes. Although many of the best brands can be taken with or without food, it’s your choice. Some brands, however, require that you take it with food, so be sure to check the label for directions on the best way to take it. Keep in mind that fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K require dietary fat to be absorbed so it’s a good idea to take these with a meal. Taking your vitamin with a meal might also help you keep it down.

Can prenatal vitamins expire?

Yes, they can. You’ll notice an expiration date on the container. It’s best to start fresh with a new supply, since you won’t be getting the full potency of the vitamins and minerals you’re trying to supplement.

Should prenatal vitamins be taken at the same time everyday?

You can take them whenever you’d like, but it’s a good idea to take them at the same time everyday simply so you don’t forget. Many vitamins require you to take multiple pills, and it can be hard to remember to take them. The important thing is to make sure you get them in, no matter what time of day!

Should prenatal vitamins be taken before pregnancy?

Many women take prenatal vitamins long before they get pregnant as a way to make sure that they are getting their vital nutritional needs met in advance of a pregnancy. If you have a history of birth defects or a miscarriage, it would be important for you to make sure that you are not missing out on any vitamins and minerals, even before conception.

Do prenatal vitamins replace multivitamins?

Yes. You don’t want to take a multivitamin in addition to your prenatals because they will contain many of the same vitamins and minerals, and you’d be creating an overload in the body.

Do prenatal vitamins come in liquid form?

Yes, there are several brands of liquid prenatal vitamins. Also consider that some of the better prenatal vitamins out there come in capsule form, and you can simply open them up and pour their contents into your favorite juice or smoothie.

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P.S. Take a look at the 5 veggies that boost female metabolism and burn off lower belly fat.



Users Comments:

  • George Gates

    my sons wife is 35 years old and I was diagnosed with poor ovarian reserve and very bad prognosis of having a baby with my own eggs. I was even given the option to consider donor eggs. That was around july 2014. I was absolutely devastated with the news and I arranged an IVF for November 2014 and it failed also, given that I had nothing to lose, I contacted on facebook (Oduduwa Ajakaye) and he send me his herbal product,. Believe it or not… I am already pregnant!

  • Arwini Hamil

    Eating a healthy and balanced diet is the best way to get the necessary vitamins and minerals. That goes without saying.

    But even if you’re a health superfreak who follows the food pyramid guidelines to a “tee” every day, it’s very possible you come up short on key vitamins and nutrients.

    Prenatal vitamins are something your doctor might recommend if you’re pregnant or hoping to conceive. They’re specially-formulated to give you those key vitamins you might be missing in your diet.

    So, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff (so to say) and find the best prenatal vitamins? Well, the first thing you should know is what to look for and how they differ from regular vitamins!

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