Confused about prenatal vitamins? Here are the right questions asked and answered.
If you’re in the market for a new prenatal vitamin, you’ve likely come across a head spinning number of brands and varieties to choose from. And you may have wondered which one’s the best.
While there is no “perfect” supplement, there are definitely areas of consideration that will help you make the best choice for your unique body and pregnancy. Below, you’ll find the answers to five frequently asked questions about prenatal vitamins to help you sort through your options and choose your best fit.
1. What if I’m not pregnant, can I still take a prenatal?
Many women take prenatal vitamins even when they’re not pregnant. One of the top reasons is because of the super fast hair and nail growth pregnant ladies experience. While some folks believe it’s the prenatal vitamin behind the growth, prenatal vitamins won’t give you lustrous hair and speedy nail growth. The reason pregnant women reap those two beauty benefits are because of all those pregnancy hormones.
However, it’s helpful for women to take a prenatal vitamin if they’re trying to get pregnant. Another group of women who may want to consider taking a prenatal vitamin are postpartum and breastfeeding women.
2. Why should I take a prenatal vitamin?
- 24% of pregnant women are lacking in calcium
- 26% aren’t getting enough vitamin A
- 29% could use more folate in their day
- 30% are missing the mark for vitamin C
- 90% are low in vitamin D
- 94% aren’t taking in enough vitamin E
- 96% of pregnant women don’t meet the iron recommendations
The truth is, for a lot of us despite our best efforts, it can still be really hard to get the recommended amount of each and every nutrient. Prenatal vitamins can help fill in the gaps.
However, this doesn’t mean you should depend on supplements and not care about how and what you eat. Food will always be superior to supplements and will always be the preferred way to nourish our bodies. But taking a prenatal vitamin is still a wise idea.
3. What should I look for in a prenatal vitamin?
With so many options out there, it’s important to choose a prenatal vitamin that has the right nutrients in the forms your body prefers in the right amounts. Most prenatal vitamins contain around 20 different vitamins and minerals. Gummy varieties, however, tend to lack certain minerals such as calcium, iron, and iodine.
The following nutrients are those which many of us don’t get enough of. Aim to get them from food and try to make sure they’re in your prenatal, too.
- Vitamin A
- B Vitamins, especially Folate/ Folic Acid
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
* You may have to take these two as a standalone supplement as many prenatal vitamins don’t contain them.
4. I can’t swallow pills, what are some other options?
This is a super common concern. Pills, in general, can be hard to swallow, pair that with the horse pill status of most prenatals and you’re really in for some trouble. Fortunately there’s a lot you can do:
- Blend your pill into a smoothie. Warning, some people don’t like the taste of this option, but others don’t mind it at all.
- If it’s a capsule, pull the two ends apart and stir the contents into apple sauce or another food (unless the label says not to.)
- Choose a prenatal that comes in three to four small(er) doses instead of one large pill.
- Cut your vitamin in half and take one piece at a time.
- Take your prenatal vitamin while eating, between bites of food.
- Breathe deeply and remain calm; try not to think about how hard it is to swallow pills.
5. When should I take my prenatal?
There’s no right or wrong time of day to take your vitamin, unless of course there’s a wrong time for you to take it. For some women, that may be in the morning when they may feel more queasy, for others the wrong time is whatever time they’re likely to forget about it. Here are a few tips to help you decide when to take your prenatal vitamin:
- If you tend to be nauseated in the morning, take it at night right after you brush your teeth and right before bed.
- If lunch is the only meal you’re sure to sit down for each day, take it at lunch.
- If you often forget to take it, put it by something you use or look at daily, like your toothbrush or phone charger.
The most important thing is to choose a time that works for you.
For more info on specific nutrients and tips to select your prenatal vitamin, read the full article.
Kendra Tolbert, MS, RDN, CDN, CLC is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified lactation counselor, and certified aromatherapist based in New York. Through her private practice, she helps women and couples prepare for pregnancy and enjoy healthier, happier pregnancies. Learn more about Kendra at Live Fertile.