If you’re expecting a little one soon, it might be time to consider taking prenatal vitamins.
There are so many steps to supporting a healthy pregnancy that it can be overwhelming to remember how to do everything just right. Most women want to ensure the healthiest pregnancy possible, so naturally, they consider taking prenatal vitamins.
In this article, we explore what the benefits of prenatal vitamins are, when is the right time to start taking them, and how on earth to find the best (and safest) ones.
Key Point: The times before and during a pregnancy are most important for elevating the health of the mother. The best prenatal vitamins will do just that.
Knowing When to Take Prenatal Vitamins
As complex human beings, we have a wide variety of dietary and nutritional needs required to best support our health. The tricky part is that this changes throughout our life.
During pregnancy, your needs for certain vitamins increase. Prenatal vitamins help to offer a wide variety of nourishing nutrients to support a healthy mother and baby throughout the whole pregnancy process.
Even if you are not yet pregnant, it can be a good idea to begin vitamin supplementation. If you’re interested in doing this consider our rankings on the best supplements–such as magnesium supplements for better health.
When to Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins
It’s helpful to consider prenatal vitamins throughout three phases of pregnancy: before, during, and post-pregnancy.
It would be amazing if there was one magical prenatal vitamin that you could take throughout all phases of pregnancy.
However, your body changes and as the baby is growing there are a variety of demands. So it is best to support each phase individually.
When to Take Prenatal Vitamins Before Pregnancy:
Start taking 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid daily at least three months prior to getting pregnant.
According to the US Department Of Health And Human Services, there are five steps to take while thinking about getting pregnant.
These include stop smoking and drinking, talk to your doctor about current medical issues and medicines your taking, and avoid contact with toxic substances. Pretty straightforward.
However, the fifth recommendation is often the one that gets overlooked. It’s recommended to take 400-800 micrograms of folic acid every day for at least 3 months prior to actually getting pregnant.
Research shows that folic acid helps to reduce the risk of birth defects regarding the brain, heart, and spine. Although you can get folic acid from food, it’s essential to supplement via prenatal vitamins to be sure you’re getting enough each day.
When to Take Prenatal Vitamins During Pregnancy:
As soon as you’re pregnant you’ll want to ensure you’re continuing to take prenatal vitamins.
When you are pregnant, you have more dietary needs for both the growing baby and yourself. It is important to eat a balanced healthy diet.
In addition, you’ll also want to supplement with prenatal vitamins to ensure your getting adequate amounts of essential nutrients.
Two of the most essential nutrients during pregnancy are folic acid and iron.
Folic acid is one of the most important things to look for in prenatal vitamins because it helps protect birth defects of the baby’s spine, heart, and brain.
Iron is also essential because it helps the blood carry oxygen for both mother and baby, helps to prevent anemia, and is essential for stable energy.
You’ll also want a prenatal supplement that includes both calcium and vitamin D. This is especially important during the third trimester as the baby’s bones are growing.
The USDA recommends pregnant women to take prenatal vitamins instead of isolated vitamins to ensure you get a balanced amount to protect both yourself and your baby.
The top four nutrients to look for in prenatal vitamins while pregnant:
- 600 micrograms per day of folic acid
- 27 milligrams of iron
- 400 IU of vitamin D
- 200 to 300 (mg) of calcium
When to Take Postnatal Vitamins
After the birth of the baby, you may consider taking postnatal vitamins, especially if you are breastfeeding.
In addition to eating a healthy diet, postnatal vitamins offer a wide variety of essential nutrients to support your body’s strength and balance.
Many women choose to continue taking the prenatal vitamin that they took during pregnancy, but as your body transitions into this next phase of motherhood, so should your vitamin.
For example, postnatal vitamins usually include more B vitamins which support red blood cell production, energy, and immune system function.
Another important nutrient to consider after pregnancy is essential fatty acids such as fish oil, which supports your cognitive health along with the nervous system and brain of your baby.
Is it Ever Too Soon to Start Prenatal Vitamins?
As soon as you are thinking about getting pregnant and you are not using birth control, you can benefit from taking prenatal vitamins. You’ll want a wide variety of nutrients before you even get pregnant.
For example, one of the most important nutrients is folic acid.
During the first few weeks of pregnancy (often before the mother even knows she is pregnant) is when the neural tube is formed. The neural tube needs sufficient folic acid to develop properly.
Otherwise, birth defects can result. This is why it is recommended to start taking prenatal supplements at least 3 months prior to conceiving.
When is it Too Late to Take Prenatal Vitamins?
It is best to take prenatal vitamins as early as possible in your pregnancy preparation journey. However, if this doesn’t happen it is recommended to start taking one as soon as possible.
Prenatal vitamins have a wide number of benefits for both the mother and child.
Consider your stage of the pregnancy process, talk to your healthcare provider, and start taking a high-quality prenatal supplement right away.
How Do I Find the Right Prenatal Vitamin Supplement?
You get what you pay for.
Consider the last time you made a big purchase. You probably took some time to research that car, house, or a new phone. Do the same with your prenatal vitamin supplement. You’ll want to ensure that it is high quality, provides the right amount of balanced nutrients, and will be safe for both you and your baby.
Also, consider where you buy your prenatal vitamins. When buying from big online companies you, unfortunately, can’t be sure you are getting what you order nor that it was stored in the proper setting to ensure efficacy.
Ask Your Healthcare Provider
It is best to work directly with a qualified healthcare provider who knows your personal health history. That way they can recommend the prenatal vitamins that are best for your biochemistry and physiology.
There are endless options when it comes to choosing prenatal vitamins. Ask lots of questions. Do your research. Invest in a high-quality supplement that you can trust. Work with a healthcare provider who can offer you a personalized recommendation.
Better Sooner Than Later
If you’re of reproductive age, not using birth control, and are considering pregnancy it is important to think about taking prenatal vitamins.
The best time to start taking prenatal vitamins is at least 3 months prior to actually getting pregnant.
While prenatal vitamins are not a substitute for good nutrition and healthy eating, they are essential to support the best health of both the mother and baby through the whole pregnancy process.
Invest In The Best
All stages of pregnancy demand different amounts of vitamins and minerals. Therefore it is important to consider each stage and take quality prenatal vitamins to ensure balanced amounts of each nutrient.
Talk to your health care provider and research the best quality prenatal vitamins to support a happy, healthy pregnancy. By adding prenatal vitamins to your daily routine, you are supporting the best outcome for both yourself and your baby.
Conclusion: When considering a pregnancy, always consult your medical health provider. However, this guide serves as an introductory rubric where we recommend starting your research early and investing in only the most quality prenatal vitamins.