Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are becoming increasingly popular today, as women begin planning their pregnancies, and taking vitamins before and during pregnancy to prevent anemia and nutritional deficiencies. However, it is important to remember that taking nutritional supplements and prenatal vitamins should not replace a good diet; they are meant only as supplements, and will not be effective if not part of a balanced and healthy meal plan. Also, it should be noted that prenatal vitamins have risks and dangers associated with them, and that taking too much of any given vitamin will be harmful both for the baby and for you, possibly even causing miscarriage or birth defects.

Pregnancy-related Anemia

Anemia is the condition where the body does not have enough red blood to properly transmit oxygen to the body. This can occur in several ways; the body could lose blood, from an injury, destruction of red blood cells due to an illness, or by impaired red cell production. It is this last that pregnant woman may encounter. About 20 percent of pregnant women get anemia during pregnancy, but because the symptoms (tiredness, paleness, etc.) are similar to just not getting enough sleep and the stresses of everyday life, some women don't' think that they even have a problem. This is why prenatal vitamins will often include iron, as that can help with the production of red blood cells. However, an overdose of iron can be harmful if not fatal, so care should be exercised.

Some Facts (to Dispel Some Rumors)

Prenatal vitamins are simply supplements to take slightly before and during pregnancy to prevent nutritional issues. There is nothing in them that will increase the chances of getting pregnant; they are just the same things you should be getting in your diet anyway, normally formulated to have more of what a pregnant woman is more likely to be losing. Taking them when you aren't pregnant would just increase the amount of those vitamins in your system. Another myth some people believe is that prenatal vitamins will take the place of a well balance diet. If you look at the fact sheet of your vitamins, you'll see that they probably don't include every single vitamin you should be taking, and probably don't have one hundred percent of the daily values recommended of the vitamins they do include. Another myth that a lot of people believe is that these vitamins are entirely safe, and that you can take extra to get even more nutrients. While it is technically true that you will get more nutrients, it is also extremely dangerous. Too much of any vitamin can be harmful; iron, for example, can cause internal hemorrhaging, which can also cause a miscarriage.

What you should look for

There are many different prenatal vitamins on the market today; you should always make sure to talk over any vitamin choices with your primary care provider. The following are some things you should look for in your vitamin of choice.

Folic Acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin, necessary for growing and maintaining new cells (which is extra important during pregnancy), that physicians recommend you get at least 600 micrograms of a day. Most Prenatal vitamins have somewhere between 600-1000 micrograms in them. 1000 micrograms is the recommended daily maximum for most pregnancies (if someone is under the age of 18 and pregnant, their maximum recommendation is 800), although the main reason for that is too much folic acid can mask the obvious symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, making it harder to notice.


Iron is another important element of any prenatal vitamin regimen. Iron aids in the development of red blood cells, and, as stated above, during pregnancy iron levels may be low, causing iron-deficiency anemia. This is why most vitamins include iron. However, iron does have some dangers associated with it. In very large doses, it can cause internal bleeding, and it can also have generally toxic effects, so generally it is not wise to exceed the recommended dosage of 45 milligrams a day by too much unless it is recommended by a doctor.


There are many different prenatal vitamins on the market today, but some aren't effective for what you want, and others could be dangerous if not used appropriately. That's why it is every important to make sure to eat a balanced diet, to consult with your primary care provider and make sure that the vitamins you are taking are the ones you need.

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