Recommended Prenatal Vitamins

Even those women who pay attention to the nutritional needs of their body will want to consider the extra requirements necessary before and during pregnancy. Many obstetricians and health professionals will prescribe prenatal vitamins for their patients at an early visit, or even at a prenatal visit. There are many different formulas for prenatal vitamins, both prescribed and over-the-counter types, with prescribed formulas generally superior to those purchased over-the-counter.

If you decide to select your own prenatal vitamins formula there are certain standards which you should look for in the product you purchase.

VITAMIN A- The beta-carotene form is the safest version of this supplement. This is a vitamin where more is NOT better. Do not take more than 4-5,000 IU of Vitamin A daily. Amounts of 10,000 or more have been shown to have toxicity.

VITAMIN D – Vitamin D is another supplement where too much is toxic. Keep your daily intake at 400 IU or less.

FOLIC ACID – The B vitamin may be one of the more important supplements for fetal development. Any formula should contain 800 to 1000 mcg of folic acid.

CALCIUM – A supplement that contains 2-300 mg calcium is just a start toward reaching the recommended 1200 mg daily. However, anything beyond 250 mg of calcium (or 25 mg of magnesium) should not be taken at the same time as supplemental iron since both calcium and magnesium interfere with the absorption of the iron. A two hour gap in time between taking the iron supplement and the calcium/magnesium supplement will allow for maximum assimilation.

VITAMIN C – Most formulas contain at least 70 mg of this essential vitamin. There are no known side effects from taking a higher dose.

THIAMINE, RIBOFLAVIN, PYRIDOXINE, NIACINAMIDE, AND VITAMIN B-12 – Most formulas contain two to three times the recommended daily allowance of these prenatal vitamins and there are no known toxicity levels.

VITAMIN E – 10 mg of Vitamin is the minimum amount which should appear in the supplement formula. Most formulas contain at least two to three times the RDA. Vitamin E has no known toxicity level.

ZINC and IRON – You should be getting at least 15 mg of zinc and 30 mg elemental iron. In addition, a supplement that contains zinc needs additional copper. Both copper and zinc are needed to assist in the assimilation of iron. Zinc is also required when the calcium supplement reaches 1200 mg or more.

Although trace minerals are important in nutritional health, few if any prenatal vitamins formulas contain any of the trace minerals. Making sure that prenatal supplement formulas are balanced to each other and contain all the essential nutrients for mother and infant health is a difficult task. You are aided in your attempt though, with the availability of a wide variety of healthy food choices. That is the importance of eating healthfully and using the vitamin and mineral supplements as extra nutritional coverage.

These prenatal vitamins are sometimes available in liquid form for those who have difficulty swallowing a capsule, but you should be aware that much of the vitamins taken in liquid form will be lost in the digestive process. One other point to remember is to be sure to take the supplements with food or drink. Some of the vitamins taken on an empty stomach can cause unpleasant aftertaste and the assimilation rate is much higher when it is taken with food or drink.