The type of prenatal vitamin you choose and when you start taking it plays an important role in your pregnancy.
We suggest taking care of your body long before you plan to conceive. Did you know the egg that gets fertilized is maturing 3 months prior to ovulation? That means whatever you were or were not doing 3 months prior to conception impacted that egg. Since prenatal vitamins are loaded with nutrients to support you and the growth of a fetus, they can even be useful for women who are not trying to conceive. This is especially true for women who are on “The Pill,” which depletes certain nutrients. We recommend taking prenatal vitamins at least six months before you start trying to get pregnant.
The best prenatal vitamins contain the following nutrients:
- Folate: This nutrient protects the rapidly dividing cells of the baby. Folate deficiency spells out damage to your reproductive cells. It is also well recognized for its role in preventing neural tube defects. Folic acid can be problematic for women with methylation issues, so if you know you have this genetic problem, skip the folic acid.
- B12: Low levels of vitamin B12 have been associated with miscarriage and infertility.
- B6: This vitamin supports your luteal phase, in which your body gets primed for implantation.
- Vitamin C: This helps your body make progesterone, which is necessary for maintaining a pregnancy (and safeguarding against PMS).
- Vitamin E: This vitamin protects your eggs from free radical attacks that would damage them.
- Zinc: A nutrient that keeps your eggs healthy.
- Copper: This need to be in balance with zinc. When used properly, copper supports antioxidant production.
- Magnesium: This is necessary for fertility and the health of the baby. Plus, it can help prevent those pregnancy leg cramps!
- Selenium: Low selenium is associated with increased risk of miscarriage. It may also be tied to thyroid function.
- Iodine: Iodine is necessary for making thyroid hormones.
- Iron: This important vitamin is needed for baby’s development and your ability to build healthy blood cells, which deliver oxygen to you and baby.
- Calcium: For healthy bones!
- Choline: An important part of spinal cord formation.
- Vitamin A as beta carotene: Vitamin A is crucial for many things, especially your immune system. Retinyl palmitate is considered a teratogen and should not be taken during pregnancy.
Avoid prenatal vitamins with food dye or food coloring, hydrogenated fats, folic acid (choose folate instead), retinyl palmitate (choose beta carotene instead), and MSG. We realize this is a lot of information and that it can be difficult figuring out what to prioritize. Ask our office what you specifically should be taking. Every person is different, so it’s important to make sure you are not getting too little (or too much) of a supplement.
We wish you all the best on your pregnancy journey. To learn more about preparing for a healthy pregnancy, we have another article for you here. Happy gestating!