During Pregnancy

Eating a healthy diet is always a wise idea – especially during pregnancy. It’s also a good idea during pregnancy to take a prenatal vitamin to help cover any nutritional gaps in the mother’s diet. In some cases, your doctor will give you a prescription for a certain type of prenatal vitamin.

  • Prenatal vitamins contain many vitamins and minerals. Their intake of folic acid, iron, iodine, and calcium are especially important.
  • Folic acid helps prevent neural tube birth defects, which affect the brain and spinal cord. Neural tube defects develop in the first 28 days after conception, before many women know they are pregnant. It is recommended that any woman who could get pregnant take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily, starting before conception and continuing for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Calcium can help prevent a pregnant woman from losing her own bone density as the baby uses calcium for its own bone growth.
  • Iodine is critical for a woman’s healthy thyroid function during pregnancy. A deficiency in iodine can cause stunted physical growth, severe mental disability, and deafness. Not enough iodine can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.
  • Iron helps blood to carry oxygen in both the mother and baby.

Post Pregnancy

You might be surprised to learn prenatal vitamins can still be important postpartum. Ideally, you began taking them several months before conception and can now continue taking prenatal vitamins after the birth of your baby. Prenatal vitamins help you get the right amount of all the essential vitamins and minerals, especially folate and other B vitamins that can help ward off postpartum depression.

Key nutrients include:

  • Iron for preventing postpartum anemia
  • Omega-3 fatty acids aid in brain and eye development in infants.
  • Calcium because a nursing mother typically transfers up to 300 milligrams of calcium to her baby daily.

What to Look for in Prenatal Vitamins:

  • 400 mcg of Folic Acid
  • 400 IU of Vitamin D
  • 200 to 300 mg of Calcium
  • 60 mg of Vitamin C
  • 3 mg of Thiamine
  • 2 mg of Riboflavin
  • 20 mg of Niacin
  • 6 mcg of Vitamin B12
  • 30 IU of Vitamin E
  • 10 mg of Zinc.
  • 17 mg of Iron
  • 150 mcg of Iodine

Source: healthyeating.sfgate.com, wemd.com