Prenatal Vitamins: What You Need to Know
by Heather Slee
Prenatal vitamins are an important addition to your diet when pregnant. Women and their fetuses both need extra nutrients during pregnancy such as folic acid, calcium, and iron. These vitamins and minerals promote healthy and strong development and keep you strong and healthy as well.
There are a million different prenatal vitamins on the market, so it can be difficult to choose which one is right for you. Here are some tips that can help you decide.
First, talk to your doctor. Some prenatal vitamins are prescription only. If your doctor feels you need a specific kind of vitamin, take their advice to heart.
If your doctor recommends an over-the-counter prenatal vitamin, there are many to choose from. If you are prone to iron deficiency, you may want to choose one with extra iron. (Simply check the nutrition label on the bottle.) However, sometimes a large amount of iron can upset your stomach and result in constipation or stomach cramps. Give it a try for a week or so, and if you experience these side effects, you may want to consider switching to a different kind.
As far as other vitamins and minerals are concerned, you should be wary of any that provide you with over 100% of the daily recommended dose (RDA). According to the American Pregnancy Association, “Combining supplements (such as taking a folic acid supplement along with your multivitamin, etc.) can raise concerns because you run the risk of overdosing on a particular nutrient. Taking more than 100% of the RDA of any nutrient should be avoided during pregnancy unless under the direction of your health care provider.” So again, talk to your doctor about your prenatal vitamin choice.
Another aspect to consider is size and odor of the vitamin. Some of the vitamins on the market are large and have a distinct odor. If you are feeling especially nauseated due to morning sickness, sometimes these characteristics can exacerbate the nausea. Again, try it for a week or so, and then consider switching it up. There are many different sizes and kinds. If you’re having a great deal of trouble taking a prenatal vitamin, ask your physician about alternatives. Even taking a Flintstones vitamin is better than taking nothing at all!
The bottom line is most over-the-counter prenatal vitamins are just fine. Sometimes it just takes a couple tries to find one that works best for you. The most important thing to look for is that it contains folic acid, iron, and calcium, so be sure to check the nutrition label on the bottle. In addition, you may want to take an additional supplement for calcium, as prenatal vitamins probably won’t supply you with the full daily recommendation.
The last piece of advice, remember that a prenatal vitamin isn’t a substitute for a decent, healthy diet. Try your best to eat balanced, nutritious meals during your pregnancy (even if the only thing you feel like eating is grilled cheese sandwiches). You’ll feel better, and your baby will have the nutrients he or she needs to develop and grow strong.
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