What’s The Deal With Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are a standard part of pregnancy. Often, as soon as a big fat positive (BFP) appears on a pregnancy test, a woman will run out to the store to buy vitamins. Prenatal vitamins contain a carefully calibrated balance of vitamins and nutrients that provide supplemental support for moms and babies. Good prenatal vitamins can round out any possible deficiencies caused by a poor diet and also ensure that baby is getting essential nutrients needed for proper development in the womb. But many women are unaware that experts encourage taking prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant.

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What’s inside prenatal vitamins?

As mentioned previously, prenatal vitamins are similar to multivitamins because of the vast array of vitamins and nutrients contained in each serving. However, along with providing essential nutrition to the pregnant woman, prenatal vitamins also provide key building ingredients that growing fetuses need to develop correctly. Often prenatals will contain more significant amounts of nutrients than would be found in standard multivitamins. In particular folic acid and iron might be higher and DHA, which usually arent found in regular multivitamins.

Can women who aren’t pregnant take prenatals?

Many women are surprised to find that many experts recommend a woman begin taking prenatals as early as a month before expecting to get pregnant. In short, as soon as a woman starts trying to get pregnant, prenatal vitamins are commonly taken daily. The thought is thaat improving overall nutrient levels will ensure the best possible outcomes for any future bundles of joy. But more importantly, improving overall nutritional health can improve a woman’s chances of conceiving. For example, having a vitamin D deficiency can hamper conception efforts.

The link between early prenatal use and healthier baby outcomes

While prenatals can’t wholly prevent any risk of adverse outcomes for a baby, the supplements do help minimize the risk. In particular, researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found a link between taking vitamins before conception and reducing the risk of preterm birth. Specifically, the risk dropped by about half in a study group of roughly 2,000 women. Early prenatal consumption has also reduced congenital disabilities affecting limbs, cleft palates, the heart, and neural tubes.

Preparing before the BFP

To be clear, women don’t have to feel bad if prenatals don’t become a routine until after a BFP. Experts still agree that starting prenatals as soon as a positive pregnancy test is received is just as effective. But the evidence suggests that the benefits are hard to ignore for beginning a prenatal vitamin routine as soon as a woman or couple decides to conceive. Especially as many people don’t have the best diets, a good prenatal vitamin with the right amounts of folic acid, iron, vitamin D, and DHA can help create the perfect environment to encourage conception and support fetal growth.

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