- Ovulation & Fertility Slideshow Pictures
- Early Pregnancy Symptoms Quiz
- Stages of Pregnancy Slideshow Pictures
- What are prenatal vitamins?
- What are the side effects of prenatal vitamins?
- Should all pregnant women take prenatal vitamins?
- When should you start taking prenatal vitamins? How long should you take them?
- What are the different types of prenatal vitamins?
- How and when should I take prenatal vitamins?
- Who else should take prenatal vitamins?
- Where can I buy prenatal vitamins?
What are prenatal vitamins?
If you are pregnant, as part of your prenatal care, your doctor, OB/GYN, or midwife may recommend taking prenatal vitamins to supplement nutrient requirements needed for fetal development. Prenatal vitamins (also termed Prenatal Multivitamins) are a combination of vitamins and minerals that a woman needs before, during, and after her pregnancy for her health the development of her baby. These vitamins and minerals include folic acid (folate), calcium, iron, vitamin D, and iodine in various amounts. Prenatal vitamins also contain vitamins A, E, C, B, zinc, magnesium, and thiamine. All of these are important nutrient components needed for good dietary health
What are the side effects of prenatal vitamins?
Most women who take prenatal vitamins as directed by their doctor or midwife experience little or no side effects from prenatal vitamins. The iron in prenatal vitamins may cause constipation, and some women complain of nausea. You also may have diarrhea, dark stools, low appetite, and stomach upset or cramps. Talk with your OB/GYN or midwife about any side effects you have from taking prenatal vitamins.
Should all pregnant women take prenatal vitamins?
Proper nutrition is important for your baby’s health, and your baby depends on you for all of his or her nutritional needs, which includes important vitamins, supplements, and minerals that are necessary for embryonic and fetal development. Ideally, if you eat a healthy diet (adequate food sources) it should provide all of your growing baby’s nutritional needs (with the exception of vitamin D and folic acid); however, doctors recommend taking prenatal vitamins if you are planning to conceive or are already pregnant, for your baby’s health.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends multivitamin supplements for pregnant women who do not consume an adequate diet. However, your doctor or midwife may still recommend taking them unless your doctor refers you to a nutritionist for a nutritional assessment.
When should you start taking prenatal vitamins? How long should you take them?
Doctors, midwives, and other health care professionals recommend that women begin taking prenatal vitamins before they become pregnant. The brain and spinal cord of the embryo begin to develop within 3 to 4 weeks of pregnancy, when you may not even know that you are pregnant. The CDC recommends that all women of childbearing age consume folic acid daily to prevent spina bifida and anencephaly. These serious birth defects affect the baby’s developing brain and spinal cord. Your doctor or midwife may recommend that you continue to take prenatal vitamins after you have your baby, especially if you are breastfeeding. If you are planning to conceive, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss any pregnancy planning concerns.
What are the different types of prenatal vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins typically contain folic acid (folate or folate supplements), calcium, iron, iodine, zinc, and vitamins A, E, and C. The ingredients in prenatal vitamins vary depending on the product. Your doctor will recommend the right type of prenatal vitamin or prenatal supplement based on your specific needs.
- Iron: Iron is an important nutrient for the development of the placenta and fetus. Iron also is important for increasing the number of red blood cells in the mother. Pregnant women should take about 30 mg/day of iron during pregnancy to prevent iron deficiency anemia.
- Calcium and vitamin D: Calcium and vitamin D are used for developing your baby’s skeleton. The recommended amount of calcium is 1000 to 1300 mg (milligrams) per day for pregnant or lactating women.
- Folic acid: Folic acid is used in the development of your baby’s spinal cord (helps prevent neural tube defects) and brain. The CDC recommends that all women of childbearing age consume 0.4 mg (400 micrograms) of folic acid daily.
- Zinc: Zinc helps your baby develop normally and it may increase birth weight. Zinc deficiency may cause slow growth.
- Iodine: Iodine is needed for proper development and functioning of the thyroid gland. Iron deficiency can cause hypothyroidism in the mother or baby. Women who pregnant or breastfeeding should take of 220 to 290 mcg of iodine daily.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is needed for proper eye development. Vitamin A deficiency can lead to night blindness. Pregnant women should take 770 mcg per day of vitamin A.
Other vitamins and supplements for if you are planning to conceive or are pregnant
Other vitamins and/or prenatal supplements may contain vitamin B 12, omega-3 fatty acids, and docosahexaenoic acid (prenatal DHA) and other compounds; your OB/GYN should specify what vitamin preparation is best for you.
Prenatal vitamins may be available in many forms; tablets, capsules, chewable and soft gels. Some, for example, Rainbow Light, claim to be certified as organic. Some are available over-the-counter while others are prescribed (for example, Citra natal Harmony). Many are not approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) because they are seen as dietary supplements.
How and when should I take prenatal vitamins?
Taking prenatal vitamins with a light snack or after meals and at bedtime may help reduce nausea. You can prevent constipation by drinking more fluids, eating foods that contain fiber, and increasing physical activity. Your health-care professional may recommend stool softeners if natural remedies do not help.
Do not take more prenatal vitamins than recommended. Do not combine prenatal vitamins with other vitamin supplements unless your doctor or midwife tells you to because excessive amounts of vitamins can cause harm to you and your developing baby.
Who else should take prenatal vitamins?
If you answer yes to one or more of the following questions then you have an increased risk of malnutrition, and your doctor will recommend that you take prenatal supplements in addition to consultation with a dietitian.
- Are you pregnant with more than one baby?
- Are you a teenager?
- Are you a Vegan?
- Have you had surgery for weight loss (bariatric surgery)?
- Do you have Crohn’s disease or other conditions that affect absorption of nutrients?
- Do you have lactase deficiency?
- Are you a heavy smoker?
- Do you use or abuse illicit drugs?
- Do you smoke?
- Do you drink?
Where can I buy prenatal vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are available over-the-counter (OTC) or by prescription. Your doctor or midwife will recommend a prenatal vitamin based on your health needs. For example, he or she may recommend that you take a prenatal vitamin high in iron if you have iron deficiency anemia. Follow the advice of your health care professional or pharmacist when selecting an over-the-counter prenatal vitamin.
Latest Pregnancy News
Daily Health News
Prenatal vitamins are recommended by most doctors prior to getting pregnant, throughout your pregnancy, and after you have your baby. The developing embryo and fetus need extra vitamins for healthy development. Prenatal vitamins contain iron, calcium and vitamin D, folic acid (to prevent birth defects), zinc, iodine, and vitamin A. Some prenatal multivitamins also contain other minerals and supplements like vitamin B 12 and omega-3 fatty acids.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
13 Early Signs & Symptoms of Pregnancy
What are the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy? Can you know before your missed period? Read about nausea and vomiting...
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
What is inflammatory bowel disease? IBD can include Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Learn more about testing, treatments,...
Crohn's Disease: Symptoms, Causes, Diet
What is Crohn's disease? Get more information on this digestive disorder and how Crohn's can affect your diet. Learn more about...
What Not to Eat When Pregnant Pictures: Alcohol, Fish, Fruit Juice, Sushi
Do you know which common foods may be risky during pregnancy? Learn which foods to avoid, while pregnant, such as queso dip,...
25 Effects of Smoking on Your Looks and Life
What are the effects of smoking tobacco? Besides and increased risk of smoking related diseases, smoking can affect your looks...
Boost Your Fertility: Ovulation Calculator, Pregnancy Planning and More
Boost fertility and increase your chances to conceive. Learn about ovulation calendars, diet, aging and other factors that can...
Prenatal Workout: Safe Exercises for Pregnant Women
Pregnancy workouts explained. Discover the best safe pregnancy exercises for your workout. Exercise during pregnancy is an...
Pregnancy: Multiple Births, Twins, Triplets, and More
Multiple births occur when a woman bears twins, triplets, or even more babies during pregnancy. More multiples are born today...
Am I Pregnant? Test Your Early Pregnancy IQ
What are early pregnancy symptoms? In some women, symptoms range from a missed period to feeling lightheaded. Others may...
Vitamins and Supplements: Test Your Medical IQ
Take the Vitamins & Supplements Quiz to learn just how many essential vitamins your body needs to function!
Pregnancy Myths and Facts Quiz: Test Your Pregnancy IQ
Being pregnant is a delicate time for both mother and baby. Take this quiz to separate the myths and facts about being pregnant,...
Smoking Quiz: How to Quit Smoking
You know it's time you quit smoking. Learn the myths and facts about quitting smoking with the Smoking Quiz. When it comes to...
Crohn's Disease Quiz
What causes Crohn's disease? What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease? How is Crohn's treated? Take this quiz to get the facts...
How to Quit Smoking: 13 Tips to End Addiction
One of the best ways to improve your health is to quit smoking. These practical tips to help you quit smoking have been shown to...
How to Quit Smoking Without Weight Gain
Learn how to avoid weight gain while quitting smoking. Explore what causes weight gain after quitting smoking. See lifestyle...
Effects of Secondhand Smoke: Facts
The effects of secondhand smoke can be hazardous to your health. Secondhand smoke can lead to lung cancer, heart disease, and...
Related Disease Conditions
Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Signs
Pregnancy symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and not all women experience the same symptoms. When women do experience pregnancy symptoms they may include symptoms include missed menstrual period, mood changes, headaches, lower back pain, fatigue, nausea, breast tenderness, and heartburn. Signs and symptoms in late pregnancy include leg swelling and shortness of breath. Options for relief of pregnancy symptoms include exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes.
Cramps but No Period
Having cramps but no period can occur because of conditions other than your monthly menstrual cycle. They may feel like period cramps of the lower abdomen when you are not due for your period and produce no blood. These 12 diseases and conditions are examples of what can cause abdominal cramping when not on period.
Pregnancy (Week by Week, Trimesters)
Signs and symptoms of pregnancy vary by stage (trimester). The earliest pregnancy symptom is typically a missed period, but others include breast swelling and tenderness, nausea and sometimes vomiting, fatigue, and bloating. Second trimester symptoms include backache, weight gain, itching, and possible stretch marks. Third trimester symptoms are additional weight gain, heartburn, hemorrhoids, swelling of the ankles, fingers, and face, breast tenderness, and trouble sleeping. Eating a healthy diet, getting a moderate amount of exercise, also are recommended for a healthy pregnancy. Information about the week by week growth of your baby in the womb are provided.
Obesity is the state of being well above one's normal weight. A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20% over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person's height, age, sex, and build.
IBS vs. IBD: Differences and Similarities
IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) are both problems with the digestive tract (gastrointestinal or GI tract), but they are not the same disease. IBS is a functional disorder (a problem with the way the GI tract functions), and IBD is a disease that causes chronic prolonged inflammation of the GI tract, that can lead to ulcers and other problems that may require surgery. The most common forms of IBD are Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, or UC. Researchers do not know the exact cause of either disease, but they believe that IBS may be caused and triggered by a variety of factors (foods, stress, and the nervous system of the GI tract), while IBD may be genetic or due a problem with the immune system.Common symptoms of both diseases are an urgent need to have a bowel movement, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain and cramping. There are differences between the signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, for example, symptoms unique to IBD are: Fever Joint pain or soreness Skin changes Rectal bleeding Anemia Eye redness or pain Unintentional weight loss Feeling tired Symptoms unique to irritable bowel syndrome include: Sexual problems Fibromyalgia Abdominal bloating Whitish mucous in the stool Changes in bowel movements and in the way stools look An urgent need to urinate Urinating frequently Treatment for IBS is with diet recommendations from a doctor or nutritionist, medication, and lifestyle changes like stress management and avoiding foods that trigger the condition. Treatments for IBD depend upon the type of disease, its symptoms, and health of the patient. Surgery may be necessary for some individuals.REFERENCES: Brown, AC, et al. "Existing Dietary Guidelines for Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis." Medscape. Lehrer, J. "Irritable Bowel Syndrome." Medscape. Updated: Apr 04, 2017. Rowe, W. "Inflammatory Bowel Disease." Medscape. Updated: Jun 17, 2016. Romanowski, A, MS, RD. "Matching the Right Diet to the Right Patient." Medscape. Jan 27, 2017.
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, primarily involving the small and large intestine, but which can affect other parts of the digestive system as well. Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and weight loss are common symptoms.
Getting Pregnant (Tips for Trying to Conceive)
Trying to get conceive, or become pregnant can be challenging, frustrating, and an emotional rollercoaster for some couples. A couple can chart their progress, which may ultimately lead to a successful healthy pregnancy, or, when necessary, lead to discussions with a fertility specialist. If you're a woman, be aware of your menstrual cycle, and you can track when you are fertile during the month using the: Basal body temperature method Calendar method Ovulation method (cervical mucus) About 10% of women in the US have problems getting pregnant, or carrying a pregnancy full term. Both men and women can have fertility problems. In fact, men and women each contribute about 1/3 when it comes to fertility problems. The other 1/3 are caused by a mixture of problems with both men and women or other problems that aren't identifiable.
Pregnancy Planning (Tips)
Pregnancy planning is an important step in preparation for starting or expanding a family. Planning for a pregnancy includes taking prenatal vitamins, eating healthy for you and your baby, disease prevention (for both parents and baby) to prevent birth defects and infections, avoiding certain medications that may be harmful to your baby, how much weight gain is healthy exercise safety and pregnancy, travel during pregnancy.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Intestinal Problems of IBD)
The inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The intestinal complications of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis differ because of the characteristically dissimilar behaviors of the intestinal inflammation in these two diseases.
Vitamins and Calcium Supplements
Vitamins are organic substances that are essential for the proper growth and functioning of the body. Calcium is a mineral essential for healthy bones and is also important for muscle contraction, heart action, and normal blood clotting.
Crohn's Disease vs. Ulcerative Colitis (UC)
Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases that cause inflammation of part of or the entire digestive tract (GI). Crohn's affects the entire GI tract (from the mouth to the anus), while ulcerative colitis or ulcerative colitis only affects the large and small intestine and ilium. Researchers do not know the exact cause of either disease. About 20% of people with Crohn's disease also have a family member with the disease. Researchers believe that certain factors may play a role in causing UC. Both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are a type of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis both have similar symptoms and signs, for example, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, episodic and/or persistent diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal bleeding, bloody stools, joint pain and soreness, eye redness, or pain. Symptoms unique to Crohn’s disease include anemia and skin changes. Symptoms of unique to ulcerative colitis include, certain rashes, an urgency to defecate (have a bowel movement). Doctors diagnose both diseases with similar tests and procedures. While there is no cure for either disease, doctors and other health care professionals can help you treat disease flares, and manage your Crohn's or ulcerative colitis with medication, diet, nutritional supplements, and/or surgery.
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or "passive smoke" also harm family members, coworkers, and others around smokers. There are a number of techniques available to assist people who want to quit smoking.
Teen Drug Abuse
Drugs commonly abused by teens include tobacco products, marijuana, cold medications, inhalants, depressants, stimulants, narcotics, hallucinogens, PCP, ketamine, Ecstasy, and anabolic steroids. Some of the symptoms and warning signs of teen drug abuse include reddened whites of eyes, paranoia, sleepiness, excessive happiness, seizures, memory loss, increased appetite, discolored fingertips, lips or teeth, and irritability. Treatment of drug addiction may involve a combination of medication, individual, and familial interventions.
Stillbirth (Stillborn Baby)
About 1% of pregnancies overall result in stillbirth, meaning that there are about 24,000 stillborn births each year in the U.S. A number of diseases and conditions as well as problems with the pregnancy or health of the mother can all be causes of stillbirth. The most common symptom of stillbirth is not feeling the baby moving or kicking.
Pregnancy Diet (Menu Plans)
When a woman is pregnant she needs more vitamins, minerals, and other foods in her diet to stay healthy and deliver a healthy baby. A healthy pregnancy diet menu plan should consist of lots of fruits, vegetables, lean meats (unless you are vegan or vegetarian), and dairy. Examples of healthy pregnancy diet meal plans include: Holistic pregnancy diet Vegan or vegetarian diet Low-carb diets Begin your healthy eating plan around three months before you begin trying to conceive, and follow the same eating plan until after you have stopped breastfeeding. If you are overweight or obese, being pregnant is not the right time to try to lose weight. Discuss your options with your health-care professional.
Pregnancy Changes and Body Discomforts
Pregnancy can bring challenges like weight gain, stretch marks, varicose veins, heartburn, constipation, hemorrhoids, problems sleeping, and wondering if it is safe to have sex while pregnant. Learn how to manage and move through these challenges during pregnancy.
Disease Prevention for Teens
Teenagers recognize that they are developmentally between child and adult. Teen health prevention includes maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, preventing injuries and screening annually for potential health conditions that could adversely affect teenage health.
Smoking During Pregnancy
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage or stillbirth, low birth weight or premature birth, and more. Secondhand smoke also increases your baby's risk of developing: lung cancer, heart diseases, emphysema, asthma, allergies, and SIDS.
Treatment & Diagnosis
Prevention & Wellness
- AHA News: Prenatal Supplement May Increase Blood Pressure at High Doses
- Vitamin D in Pregnancy Doesn't Curb Kids' Asthma
- Prenatal Opioid Exposure Could Bring Long-Term Harm to Kids
- Prenatal Vitamins Might Lower Risk of Second Child With Autism
- Prenatal Vitamin D Pills Won't Boost Babies' Growth: Study
- Here's to a Healthy Pregnancy
- Obamacare Helped More Young Women Get Prenatal Care: Study
- Prenatal Vitamins Tied to Lower Autism Risk in Kids, Study Finds
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Top Tips for Eating Right During Pregnancy." Updated Nov 2016.
CDC. "Planning for pregnancy." Updated: Feb 13, 2017.
CCD. "Preconception Health and Health Care." Last Updated: Feb 13, 2017.
Hylton, J, DO. "Prenatal Nutrition." Medscape. Updated: May 03, 2017.
Russell, P. "Multivitamins in Pregnancy 'Are a Waste of Money." Medscape. July 12, 2016.