What Are Prenatal Vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are supplements that are designed to support your body with the nutrients that it needs to support the healthy development of a baby.
- These supplements are intended to be taken before conception, as well as during your pregnancy.
- Taking prenatal vitamins before you are pregnant helps to kickstart your baby’s healthy development.* Some aspects of your baby’s development, including the formation of what eventually becomes its brain, happen as early as the first month of your pregnancy.
- Taking prenatal vitamins while trying to get pregnant helps to support your body with nutrients that it needs to support your baby’s physical and neurological growth when you conceive — before you even know for sure that you’re pregnant.
- Prenatal vitamins can be taken together as a multivitamin, but you can also take them separately. Depending on the type of supplement(s) you choose to take and the form of vitamins and minerals, it may be more beneficial to take certain nutrients separately for absorption purposes, but your doctor can help you determine the best prenatal regimen for you!
- While taking prenatal vitamins, it’s also important to get plenty of nutrients from whole, unprocessed foods. While prenatal supplements may help you meet your daily recommended intake of important vitamins and minerals, eating a healthy diet is also an essential aspect of caring for yourself and your baby while pregnant.
So, what are the most important nutrients to get before and during pregnancy?
Iron and Folic Acid: Essential Prenatal Nutrients
Two important nutrients that are needed in higher amounts during pregnancy are folic acid and iron.* When pregnant, your body needs more of these nutrients than it would usually require. To avoid an iron deficiency or folic acid deficiency for yourself or your baby, make sure to get enough of these two essential nutrients through food and supplements.
When you are pregnant, your daily recommended iron intake increases significantly.*
Iron is important for blood production, cellular health, energy metabolism, and overall health. This mineral is key to helping provide oxygen to the body via the red blood cells, and adequate oxygen levels are crucial for good health! During pregnancy, iron is needed for the increased production of maternal red blood cells, as well as to support the needs of the growing baby and placenta. It is not uncommon for individuals, especially pregnant women, to be deficient in iron, an essential nutrient needed in greater quantities during pregnancy.
Increasing your iron intake while pregnant may also help to prevent the development of anemia. Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood is short of its normal amount of red blood cells.
Common symptoms of iron deficiency include:
Fatigue is one side effect of low iron levels. Iron plays an important role in the transportation of oxygen in your bloodstream, and when your iron levels are too low, the lack of enough oxygen can sap your energy. If you feel exhausted often with no apparent cause, talk to your doctor. After performing tests, your healthcare provider may conclude that your fatigue is caused by an iron deficiency.
Other symptoms that may occur are difficulty concentrating, impaired cognitive function, impaired immune function and poor work performance, and impaired body temperature regulation. If you think you might be deficient or would like to learn more about your iron levels and how you can support them in the future, please speak with your doctor who can guide you in determining your iron status and can help you choose the correct path forward for supplementation if needed.
Certain groups are more at risk of becoming iron deficient. These include pregnant women, women with a heavy menstrual flow, infants and young children, those who donate blood frequently, and those with cancer. Depending on their situation, those in any of these categories might benefit from increased iron in their diet or iron supplementation.
As is the case with any new supplements, it’s always wise to consult your doctor before you add an iron supplement to your daily regimen. Your doctor can give you expert input regarding the amount of iron to take based on your age and stage of life.
Folic acid is another extremely important nutrient for pregnant women. Taking folic acid while pregnant can help to reduce the risk of birth defects for your baby.*
If you are trying to get pregnant, it’s recommended that you start taking folic acid one month before conception and for the first three months or pregnancy. Starting supplementing with folic acid before getting pregnant can help to reduce the chances of birth defects.
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Calcium and Vitamin D: Essential for Prenatal Health
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, and calcium helps to provide strength and structure to your bones. Thus, these two nutrients work together in harmony to keep you and your baby strong and healthy.
There are two types of vitamin D – D3 and D2. D3 is mainly found in animal products, but it is also produced by your body in response to sun exposure. D2 is found in some plant-based foods, including mushrooms.
Your body is better at absorbing vitamin D3 than vitamin D2. While both D2 and D3 can be beneficial components in a healthy diet, choosing D3 as a supplement may be the best option for you.
Some of the most abundant and bioavailable dietary sources of vitamin D are animal-based, which makes them off-limits for anyone adhering to a vegan diet. In addition, many vitamins and supplements that include vitamin D are made with animal-derived versions of the nutrient.If you live a plant-based lifestyle, look for a vitamin D supplement that is not made with vitamin D3 derived from lanolin. Lanolin comes from the fat secreted by wooly animals, and is incompatible with a vegan diet. Instead, opt for a D3 supplement made with vitamin D sourced from lichen. MaryRuth’s D3 gummies, as well as our multivitamins, include plant-sourced D3 that is right at home in a vegan diet.
B-Complex Vitamins: Multifaceted Nutrients That You And Your Baby Need
In addition to the other vitamins and minerals we’ve already discussed, B vitamins also play an important role in prenatal nutrition.*
The B-complex vitamins are:
- B1 (thiamine)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B5 (pantothenic acid)
- B6 (pyridoxine)
- B7 (biotin)
- B9 (folate)
- B12 (cobalamin)
Each of these vitamins serves an important purpose within your body and the body of your developing baby. In addition, vitamin B12 is a nutrient that can be difficult for vegans to get from dietary sources – there are virtually no plant-based foods that contain B12. Thus, expecting mothers who follow a vegan diet have a specific need for a B12 supplement.
Vitamin B12 helps to support your baby’s cognitive health. To avoid becoming B12 deficient while eating a plant-based diet, it’s always wise to include a high-quality B12 supplement in your diet. The same goes for vitamin D3, which is equally difficult for vegans to get from dietary sources.
Why Take Liquid Prenatal Vitamins?
MaryRuth’s prenatal and postnatal multivitamin comes in liquid form.
Why did we decide to create our prenatal supplement as a liquid? Here are just a couple of the reasons:
Liquid prenatal vitamins taste amazing. Pills can taste unpleasant, and they may be difficult for some to take. If you tend to struggle with pills or have a hard time forming the habit of taking your vitamins each day, our liquid prenatal formula may be perfect for you. The great taste of our formula makes it easy to enjoy your daily supplement regimen and care for your developing baby.
Liquids are easier to swallow than pills. During a time that some people may not be feeling their best, taking a liquid multivitamin may be easier than trying to swallow a pill.
Our liquid prenatal formula is vegan! Simple as that.
You can find MaryRuth’s prenatal and postnatal liquid multivitamin here. In addition, you may want to consider pairing our multivitamin with prenatal probiotics to support your gut microbiome before and during pregnancy. You can also shop our probiotics specifically designed for pre- and post-pregnancy.
*References Available Upon Request.