Prenatal Vitamins: Which Should You Take

Women who are expecting or who are already carrying often ask themselves: how necessary are prenatal vitamins? 

While it is recommended that you do take them during pregnancy in order to prevent certain growth defects, making the right decision as to which one you should take can be a tricky one. There are many varieties of these vitamins present on the market and choosing the best one for you can be confusing, especially because some of the benefits and effects of them may depend on several other factors, such as your weight and diet.

But no worries! In this post, we’ve got you covered on what to look in and out for in prenatal vitamins and which ones are the best to take.

The Difference Between Prenatal Vitamins and Regular Vitamins

When you’re taking vitamins, it’s important to know the purpose they serve. Vitamins are considered nutrients that you should usually take in through outside sources, such as food or other dietary supplements. That is why it’s very important to have a good and balanced diet during pregnancy to make sure you get most of what you need through natural sources. 

But even with the most careful diet sometimes you can’t keep up with all the nutritive requirements, especially when you’re carrying another person in your body. Mothers who have certain dietary restrictions – are lactose intolerant or have other food intolerances, and are vegetarian or vegan – are especially vulnerable to low levels of certain types of nutrients.

The important difference between regular multivitamins and prenatal vitamins is in the content of certain types of nutrients, most commonly folic acid and iron. These two nutrients are very important for the proper neural development of the baby and the tissue building process. Next, we’re going to cover some of these basic nutrients you need to look for in prenatal vitamins.

What to Look for in Prenatal Vitamins

You should take note that prenatal vitamins do not stand as substitutes to a healthy diet – rather, they should be considered complementary to it, because they can’t and won’t meet all of your mineral and vitamin needs.

You can find prenatal vitamins in every pharmacy and you can buy them very easily over-the-counter. The most important nutrients they should contain are the following: folic acid, iron, calcium, iodine, and vitamin D. Some other beneficial elements that you also might want to look for are vitamin C, A and E, as well as copper and zinc.

Folic acid

Folic acid is a synthetic type of vitamin B. It’s especially important for the baby’s neural development because it plays a role in closing the fetal neural tube that eventually develops into the spinal cord and brain. Low vitamin B levels can contribute to spinal cord defects, and can even be fatal in some cases.  

It’s important to note the difference between folic acid and folate, which is the natural type of vitamin B, present in food such as legumes and leafy greens. While folate metabolizes in the body faster - meaning it readily acts on various biological processes - folic acid requires an extra step. First, it needs to be metabolized by the liver and converted into folate before the body can properly use it. You need to be careful to take lower doses of folic acid, otherwise, the liver can’t keep up and the folic acid can stay in an unmetabolized form, not being particularly useful for you or your baby.

Iron

Iron is another nutrient that you don’t want to avoid. Iron is extremely important for the blood of both mother and baby. It helps with building healthy red blood cells (which also helps prevent anemia) and carries oxygen to tissues, so it’s also very important for the tissue-building processes during the baby’s development.

Calcium

Calcium presence in the body helps with the building of bone and teeth and is as good for the baby as is for the mother. It helps the mother’s body maintain proper bone density during the months of pregnancy.

Iodine

Don’t forget to look for iodine in your prenatal vitamins. Iodine is important for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Healthy thyroid gland helps prevent certain mental disabilities, and can also play a part in preventing deafness and stunted physical growth.

Vitamin D

This nutrient can help prevent conditions that occur with the softening of bone tissue caused by vitamin D deficiency. This vitamin helps with maintaining normal levels of calcium and phosphorus, which, are crucial for the strengthening of the baby’s bones and teeth.
Other important nutrients that you won’t necessarily find in prenatal vitamins are the omega-3 fatty acids, which help with the proper building of nerve tissue, as well as healthy brain development. The best natural source for omega-3 is fish. You have to be careful when consuming fish though, especially when you’re pregnant because fish may contain mercury which can be harmful to you and your baby. That is why when considering the omega-3 fatty acids it’s best to consult with your doctor on which supplements to take.

Forms of Prenatal Vitamins

These vitamins can come in several forms, whether as pills, dissoluble in liquids, soft-gel capsules or gummies. If you have a problem using the regular pills, especially if you’re troubled by morning sickness, you can try these other forms of vitamins.

A slight note on the side: gummy prenatal vitamins don’t contain iron, so if you decide to take them make sure to get an additional iron supplement with on the side - or make sure you eat plenty of iron-rich foods.

Careful with Taking too Much Prenatal Vitamins

When taking prenatal vitamins it’s important to remember not to overdo it. Taking too much of certain vitamins may be toxic and damaging to your body. Always consult with your doctor about the right dosage of these kinds of vitamins.


For the best prenatal vitamins currently on the market, please check out this carefully selected list we’ve made just for you!