It’s important to keep a healthy diet while preparing for a pregnancy so your body is in its most healthy state to conceive. Even with a disciplined diet, you may not be getting all the minerals and nutrients you need. Prenatal vitamins are an excellent way to fill any voids in your diet, and create the healthiest and most nutritious environment for a baby to develop. Think of your prenatal vitamin as an insurance policy that’s helping to prepare your body the best way possible for a baby.
What are the differences between Prenatal and “Regular” Vitamins?
The main difference is that prenatal vitamins provide more folic acid, calcium, and iron, which all help your baby’s health. Below is an excerpt from the Mayo Clinic describing what each mineral or nutrient provides:
- Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects. These defects are serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
- Calcium promotes strong bones and teeth for both mother and baby. Calcium also helps your circulatory, muscular and nervous systems run normally.
- Iron supports the development of blood and muscle cells for both mother and baby. Iron helps prevent anemia, a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells.
Why Should You Take Prenatals before you are pregnant?
You have probably heard the importance of folic acid during pregnancy. However, what you may not have heard is that the most important time to take folic acid is BEFORE you are pregnant and during the first two weeks of pregnancy (when you will likely not know you are pregnant yet). Most women do not get enough folic acid from their diet alone, so it is important to take a vitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid (sometimes also listed as folate on the bottle). By getting enough folic acid before and during the very early stages of pregnancy, you are giving your baby the best chances of having healthy development of its neural tube, which will eventually develop into the baby’s brain and spinal cord. According to March of Dimes, over 70% of the 3,000 neural tube defects per year could be prevented by folic acid alone.
There are so Many to choose from – which one should I buy?
Most prenatal vitamins are available over-the-counter or you can purchase them online. Talk to your doctor to get a recommendation, or check out three brands we recommend here.