Prenatal vitamins are intended for women who are trying to become pregnant, are pregnant, or who are breast feeding. You should begin taking prenatal vitamins up to twelve months prior to trying to get pregnant.
Why should I take a prenatal vitamin before I am trying to get pregnant?
If you aren’t planning that far ahead, then begin taking them once you are earnestly trying to conceive. Prenatal vitamins are supplements high in folic acid, which helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly; and iron, which helps support the baby’s growth and development.
What should I look for in a prenatal vitamin?
There are many over-the-counter prenatal vitamins to choose from. Your doctor may have a specific recommendation based on your individual needs. If not, the Mayo Clinic suggests choosing a vitamin which contains the following:
- Folic acid 400-800 micrograms
- Calcium 250 milligrams
- Iron 30 milligrams
- Vitamin C 50 milligrams
- Copper 2 milligrams
- Vitamin B6 2 milligrams
- Vitamin D 400 international units
Prenatal vitamins come in various forms: pill, capsule, and liquid. Prenatal vitamins are generally taken once a day though that also depends on which vitamin you are taking. Helpful hint: many women have an aversion to taking a prenatal vitamin pill (nicknamed horse pill) because of the aftertaste and the difficulty swallowing it. Liquid prenatal vitamins tend to be easy to take and digest more quickly.