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If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, your gynecologist may recommend using some dietary supplements – prenatal vitamins. Taking these vitamins is mandatory to meet the daily nutritional requirement, essential for healthy baby growth. Prenatal vitamins or prenatal multivitamins are a blend of different nutrients that are necessary before and during pregnancy. These nutrients include iron, calcium, iodine, vitamin D, A, B, C, and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, etc.
In addition to a healthy diet, these prenatal vitamins provide the ideal environment while a woman works to conceive, grow the fetus and breastfeed after the delivery. Here is a complete guide on prenatal supplements, who needs to try them, and a list of the best prenatal vitamins 2021 down below. Let’s find out everything.
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Why are Prenatal Vitamins so Important?
Prenatal vitamins or prenatal multivitamins are a nutritional boosting formula that maintains healthy body functions and helps to sustain a pregnancy. But using a dietary supplement doesn’t mean that you should ignore following a healthy diet. A prenatal supplement works best when you take it along with a healthy diet.
Pregnancy is a developmental phase of the body when the body needs a high amount of certain nutrients such as vitamin D3, calcium, iron, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, and DHA (omega 3). Interestingly, the dietary demands change throughout the pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend one or a combination of different dietary supplements in different months or pregnancy and sometimes after the delivery.
Ideally, you should start taking prenatal supplements when you plan to conceive. Just stop using birth control and replace them with prenatal supplements after consulting your doctor. At this point, taking prenatal vitamins, especially folic acid, is necessary as it reduces the chances of certain neural tube defects, for example, anencephaly or spina bifida.
But you will be surprised to know that more than half of the pregnancies are never planned, and taking folic acid supplements are generally recommended for all women, even if they are not planning for a baby.
Taking prenatal vitamin every day can also save from
- Calcium deficiency in mother
- Anemia or iron deficiency in mother
- Cleft lips or palate in the newborn
- Low birth weight and stillbirth
- Preeclampsia in mother
- Preterm delivery of the baby
- Postpartum depression
What are the Different Types of Prenatal Supplements?
If you are searching for a prenatal supplement brand, you will be surprised to see so much variety. While such a huge variety in any prenatal vitamin product is unique, it may confuse a person who has never used any multivitamin pills before. And it gets more interesting to see different forms of prenatal multivitamins, such as pills, liquids, capsules, and gummies. You may also find organic prenatal supplements, vegan, over the counter (OTC), and prescription-based.
Based on the individual dietary needs, there are so many options in prenatal dietary supplements available. If you can’t decide which one to use, you may contact your doctor or midwife and discuss the best options.
What’s Inside Prenatal multivitamins?
Different companies make different types and forms of prenatal supplements. Typically, these dietary supplements are a blend of essential vitamins and minerals. Some of the most common nutrients inside a prenatal supplement are as follows.
There are very low chances that the pregnant woman will be able to obtain all of the calcium from food sources. The daily requirement of calcium during pregnancy is 1000 mg, which can be balanced from food and supplements together. This calcium is used to make the bones, teeth, and body muscles of the baby.
Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA is the name for omega-3 fatty acid, which is essentially required during pregnancy. A pregnant woman needs 200mg of DHA every day, which develops a baby’s brain, muscles, and eyes. It also saves from pregnancy-related complications in the mother.
The dietary requirement of folic acid is different in every woman. Based on their current folic acid level, a doctor may suggest any dose between 400mg to 800mg per day. This folic acid controls the baby’s growth and saves from complications.
Most women are generally low on iron, and this iron deficiency can’t be fulfilled from dietary sources alone. Ideally, she needs 27mg of iron per day, double the normal requirement of iron for a woman’s body. This iron is used to carry out oxygen to the growing fetus cells.
This is one of the essential vitamins which is responsible for creating healthy skin. It also helps in the formation of eyes and saves from congenital disabilities. A pregnant woman generally needs less than 10,000 international units (IU), mainly obtained from a prenatal vitamin pill.
This vitamin acts as an antioxidant and saves the body from toxin damage and free radicals. It improves healing and immune response and helps in the absorption of iron. If you are pregnant, you may need nearly 85 mg of vitamin C from diet alone or a dietary supplement.
Vitamin D is necessary to absorb calcium in the body, both of which are used to make baby teeth and bones. It is necessary to take an additional vitamin D or vitamin d3 vitamin pill if you spend most of your time indoors. The ideal dose of vitamin D during pregnancy is 10 micrograms only.
Iodine helps in nervous system development, and zinc saves from preterm birth during pregnancy. Both of these are used in trace amounts, and you are not required to take them separately as most of the prenatal multivitamin products already have them.
Where to Buy Prenatal Vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are easily available at pharmacies and health stores. Most of them don’t need a prescription because they are not treatment medicine. You can also buy prenatal vitamins online and get the one that meets your requirements best. Here is a list of the best prenatal vitamins 2021. Take a look at these suggestions before searching for other options.
One A Day Women’s Prenatal 1 Multivitamin
Talk about the best options available in prenatal supplements, and One A Day Women’s Prenatal 1 Multivitamin is the first option you will find. It is highly recommended by doctors to meet the nutrients requirements of a pregnant mother. It is not a fancy product, but it is high quality and laboratory tested. It contains folic acid, iron, and DHA inside and the only supplement used before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and after pregnancy.
Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal Vitamin
It is a liquid prenatal vitamin ideal for those who don’t like swallowing pills or prenatal gummies. But it doesn’t mean that these liquids don’t have a flavor. They are flavored, but this flavor is tolerable by most users. It contains folate, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B (biotin), and zinc. It has a limited amount of calcium, so you might have to take an extra calcium supplement while using this liquid supplement.
Nature Made Prenatal + DHA 200 mg Multivitamin
If you are specifically looking for DHA soft gel, Nature Made prenatal supplement is the right choice for you. DHA is a fatty acid that is necessary for the baby’s brain development. Although many supplements promise to provide a high DHA fatty acid value, not all of them fulfill it.
Fortunately, inside this Nature Made supplement, you will get 400mg of DHA fatty acid in every capsule. If your dietary recommendation is more than 400mg, try taking a separate supplement for this essential fatty acid. In addition to this, it has a high amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K2, vitamin d3, and vitamin b12 inside.
Mama Bird Prenatal Multivitamin
Mama Bird Prenatal multivitamin ensures a healthy pregnancy by providing a substantial amount of folate to the mother. Folate is a part of almost all prenatal formulas, but some women need more quantity than these supplements. The Mama Bird multivitamin contains a methyl folate blend, along with methylcobalamin and choline. It is a vegan-friendly product that is highly affordable for almost everyone.
TheraNatal Complete Prenatal Vitamin & Mineral Supplement
It is a comprehensive dietary supplement that is recommended by doctors. You will find this prenatal vitamin product offering iodine and choline responsible for hormone regulation and the baby’s brain growth during pregnancy. It also saves from morning sickness and other pregnancy-related symptoms. With every pill, you will get 150 micrograms of iodine and nearly 450 micrograms of choline every day. This supplement has been independently tested and verified, meeting a high quality. The only problem with this supplement is that it may not be affordable for everyone.
Ritual Prenatal Vitamins
Ritual Prenatal vitamins are the best choice if you are specifically looking for iron and calcium-based prenatal supplements. Although both of these are achievable from the diet alone but using a supplement makes it much easy. It is best suited for women in their first trimester, experiencing extreme morning sickness as one of its dietary ingredients, mint, can relieve nausea. However, this is not ideal if the user is high calcium deficient and needs more calcium in their diet.
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal Multivitamin
It is an organic prenatal supplement that is loaded with iron, probiotics, and vitamins. This is an iron and probiotic formula that ensures a baby’s brain development, bones, and good immunity. It has vitamin d3, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin 6 and b12 inside, and other essential nutrients. Interestingly, you can even open these capsules and mix the inner content in water or juice if you can’t take the pills.
Thorne Basic Prenatal
This supplement is ideally designed for pregnant and breastfeeding women to meet their dietary deficiencies. Thorne basic prenatal has a high amount of vitamin B12, vitamin A, magnesium, iodine, and iron. Surprisingly, it contains most folate than any other prenatal supplement, making it ideal for iron-deficient women. It also contains a high number of vitamin D, calcium, and malate. It is like taking one pill having every essential nutrient inside.
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal
If you are in search of a highly affordable prenatal supplement, there is nothing better than Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal. It is a fine blend of vitamin D3, vitamin A, probiotic elements, iron, and folate. It also contains ginger extract, which saves from morning sickness and nausea. This organic prenatal supplement is least likely to cause any side effects and fit vegans and vegetarians.
SmartyPants Prenatal Formula
For those who can’t tolerate the capsules and liquids, prenatal gummies are no less good news. Most people believe that prenatal gummy supplements are just candies and not helpful to get essential nutrients, which is wrong and misleading. You can find 18 essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids in this formula, ensuring a healthy pregnancy. This prenatal gummy supplement also contains iodine and other minerals required for pregnant and breastfeeding women. In the absence of iodine and zine, the baby’s brain development may be affected, and the risk of psychomotor impairments increases.
MegaFood Baby & Me 2
This is a prenatal supplement made with real food sources such as carrots, broccoli, brown rice, and oranges and added essential vitamins and minerals to complete the user’s nutrient requirement. It is designed by a doctor and contains nearly 600 mcg of active folic acid inside and 300 mg choline, followed by 18mg iron and vitamin b6. It is a non-GMO product and suitable for vegetarian users.
Centrum Prenatal + DHA
If a woman is low on vitamin D, she can try using the Centrum prenatal plus DHA complex, which contains more vitamin D than other brands. However, it doesn’t have much iron inside it. In addition to that, it has 24 essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, DHA soft gel, and EPA and can be used at any stage of pregnancy.
Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin
Rainbow light is one of the best sources of zinc, vitamin b2, vitamin b5, folate, choline, iron, and calcium. Only taking one supplement per day will meet the daily demands of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. Adding it into a healthy diet can enhance its effects. Those who need DHA can also use any DHA soft gel capsules with Rainbow light pills. It is a vegetarian formula and free from gluten and dairy.
How to Choose the Best Prenatal Vitamins 2021?
Here is how to choose the right multivitamin for a healthy pregnancy.
If you are planning a pregnancy, the first thing to do is to evaluate your health. It is easy to do it even without going to a doctor. You can monitor your diet, maintain a healthy weight, and pen down any potential health problems that you are experiencing or have experienced in the past. Based on this information, you can easily guess which dietary nutrients do you lack. But if you are unclear about this whole situation, contact a doctor for a complete checkup. Based on your test reports, dietary habits, and medical history, your doctor will create a customized supplement/medicine chart for you.
- Look for all available options
Whether you are pregnant at the moment, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive, it is necessary to determine which type of dietary supplement you need to get all your key nutrients. You can find different vitamins and minerals in every prenatal vitamin product, but you may not need every ingredient inside a product. So, make sure that your choice of the product meets your dietary demands.
The only determinant of how your body will respond to any vitamin supplement or any ingredient inside it is by trying it. Daily use of prenatal vitamin pills can help you check if your body can bear it or not. In case of any undesirable effect, try a different brand or product like gummy prenatal vitamin pills, which are easy to use and mostly side effect free.
Take special care before using any prescription-based prenatal vitamin pill. These supplements usually have a higher quantity of essential vitamins, some of which you may not need. Not many people know, but an overdose of certain vitamins can also cause side effects, so do not experiment with your body.
Another problem with choosing the best prenatal vitamin among so many options is the price difference. You can find extremely high and unbelievably low-price prenatal supplements in the market. It is hard to choose an affordable one without previous experience or knowledge and provide every essential nutrient to the body.
Make sure to check your insurance plan; if you have any, sometimes these supplements are covered in medical insurance. If it doesn’t, choose the one which justifies its price in terms of quality and benefits.
Directions to Use Prenatal Pills
Depending upon what is your dietary requirement, you can search for specific brands that meet these requirements. Some of the prenatal supplements are to be used once a day, and some can be used several times per day.
All of these prenatal vitamin products come with complete user instructions mentioned on its label. Make sure to give it a reading before using them. Take these supplements with water only, and in no case, take them with alcohol or other medicines. For more details on how to use prenatal vitamins, you may contact your doctor.
Side Effects of Prenatal Vitamins
Prenatal products are health-boosting supplements that can never cause a side effect. However, they can show some highly undesirable effects if you are using them wrong or suffer from pregnancy-related problems worsened by these supplements.
Some of the most common things which may show up during pregnancy are;
- Constipation; although it is not directly related to supplement use; low iron can typically cause constipation during pregnancy. The risk of constipation is higher in an anemic mother. It is advised to take more dietary fiber and hydrate the body to get over this constipation.
- Skin problems; some users may also experience changes in their skin. Because of the different mix of vitamins and minerals, users may feel that their skin is getting dry or sensitive.
Note- do not confuse these changes with an allergic reaction. If you experience sudden changes in your skin after consuming any supplement, it is an allergic reaction, and you should get immediate medical care.
- Digestive distress; using a prenatal multivitamin can also cause digestive stress or make the existing problems worse, such as morning sickness. Some users also experience diarrhea, low appetite, or nausea after using the prenatal multivitamin for the first time. In case of stomach distress, doctors advise to cut the dose into half and gradually introduce your body to a prenatal vitamin product. Alternatively, you can try a different product.
Is It Necessary to Take a Prenatal Supplement?
Contrary to popular opinion, it is unnecessary to use prenatal vitamins, but you can’t make this decision on your own. Suppose a doctor feels that your health status is up to the mark, and you can obtain all your dietary requirements such as vitamin A, vitamin D3, DHA, folic acid, vitamin b12, folate, and vitamin k2 from diet alone. In that case, you are good to go without a vitamin supplement. Some women don’t even need folate and iron supplements too.
On the other side, some women like to stick to the regular multivitamin pills. Although there are no side effects of any multivitamin that you are using, please discuss it with your doctor. After a complete evaluation, your OB &Gyn can predict if you need any essential vitamins or not.
Difference Between Prenatal Vitamins and Multivitamins
Any regular multivitamin pill is designed to meet the dietary recommendations of a healthy woman. But the dietary requirements change during pregnancy when the body is under development, stress, and lots of hormonal changes. At this stage, the body needs a high intake of vitamins, minerals, and iron to make sure that the baby is growing well.
When all the essential nutrients are available, the risks of pregnancy complications and birth-related problems decrease to a minimum.
On the other side, the standard multivitamins for women-only meet the regular dietary demands and do not provide the same nutritional boost as prenatal supplements. That’s is why using prenatal supplements in pregnancy is better than general supplements. However, your doctor may combine both of them to meet your dietary requirements.
The Final Word
If you are convinced to give any of these best prenatal vitamins 2021 a try, make sure that you do not ignore your diet. The idea of using prenatal vitamin pills is not to replace diet; it is to make sure that the body doesn’t lack any essential nutrients before, during, and even after pregnancy. Talk to your nearest healthcare unit to discuss which type of prenatal multivitamin or prenatal gummy vitamin do you need.