Prenatal vitamins are supplements for women who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. They help cover any deficiencies in your diet and ensure your body has all the essential nutrients to conceive and nourish your baby. Here are some of the important prenatal vitamins and minerals that you should be taking on a regular basis throughout your pregnancy:
- Folic acid: This is a form of vitamin B that helps with the growth and development of the body. It can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine, cleft lip, and cleft palate. The recommended dosage is 400 mcg every day before pregnancy and 600 mcg every day during pregnancy.
- Vitamin C: Also known as ascorbic acid, this vitamin is essential for a healthy immune system and helps in the formation of collagen to build strong tendons, bones, and skin. It also acts as an antioxidant preventing cell damage. The recommended dosage is 50 to 85 mg per day.
- Vitamin D: This vitamin helps with the absorption of calcium from the diet for the normal development of your baby’s bones and teeth; and proper functioning nerves, muscles, and immune system. The recommended daily dosage during pregnancy is 600 IU (international units).
- Iron: It is necessary to produce hemoglobin which transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. It also helps fight infections and prevents the risk of anemia, premature birth, and low birth weight. The recommended daily dosage during pregnancy is 27 mg.
- Calcium: It is essential for the development of the baby’s bones, teeth, muscles, and nerves. The recommended daily dosage is 1000 mg. If you do not consume enough calcium during the pregnancy, your body absorbs the calcium from your own bones, which can increase your risk of developing osteoporosis.
- Iodine: It is essential in the development of the baby’s thyroid gland and hormones for the proper use and storage of energy, and in the development of the baby’s nervous system to help the baby move, feel, and think. Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in miscarriage, stunted growth, deafness, and mental deficiency. The recommended daily dosage during pregnancy is 220 mcg.
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Also known as omega-3 fatty acid, DHA helps in the growth and development of your baby’s eyes and brain. The recommended daily dosage during pregnancy is between 200 to 300 mg.
Prenatal vitamins can sometimes cause side effects such as nausea, constipation, and dark stools. In such instances, your doctor may modify the dose or recommend an alternative prenatal vitamin.