There’s a lot of information about the right time to start taking prenatal vitamins to prepare your body for pregnancy and support your nutrient needs. If you know you’re ready to conceive, the best time to begin a prenatal vitamin regimen is ideally before conception. However, this is certainly not the case for everyone, so prenatal vitamins are beneficial to start taking as soon as you know of your pregnancy. This is because the baby’s neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy. If you want to have children, it’s generally a good idea for women of reproductive age to take a prenatal vitamin regularly.
Why are Prenatal Vitamins Important?
Most of our essential nutrients are derived from having a healthy, well-rounded diet. However, during pregnancy, you might fall short on vital nutrients to support the baby’s development. For instance, pregnant people need more folic acid and iron than usual. In a perfect world, you should take folic acid supplements at least 3 months before you become pregnant. But again, as soon as you’re aware of your pregnancy is an excellent time to start taking more folic acid. Folic acid helps to prevent neural tube defects and serious abnormalities of the fetal brain and spinal cord. Something as simple as taking a folic acid vitamin can boost your child’s immunity to such defects.
As mentioned before, iron is also essential for a healthy pregnancy. Essentially, iron supports the development of the placenta and fetus. It also aids in producing blood to supply oxygen to the fetus. Iron supplements will also help prevent anemia, a health condition with a low number of healthy red blood cells.
Which Prenatal Vitamin is Best?
Usually, the best prenatal vitamins offer a wide variety of nutrients and vitamins to help support your body during pregnancy. Always talk to your health care provider before taking any prenatal vitamins. Your doctor can direct you towards what you, on an individual level, need to maximize your bodily health.
Once you have consulted your practitioner, look for a prenatal vitamin that also contains calcium, and vitamin D. These nutrients help promote the development of the baby’s teeth and bones. It also might be beneficial to look for a prenatal vitamin that contains vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc, and iodine. If you’re not big on eating fish or flaxseed, your doctor may also advise you to take omega-3 fatty acid supplements in addition to prenatal vitamins. Essentially, omega-3s help promote a baby’s brain development.
When Should I Take My Daily Prenatal Vitamins?
Whether at the crack of dawn or right before bedtime, the matter of when you should take your daily prenatal vitamins is up to you. No one knows your routine better than you, so take your vitamins consistently and daily. There’s no time of day proven to be better for vitamin absorption, so it’s not something to be overly concerned about.
Additionally, if consuming your prenatal vitamins makes you nauseous, it can be helpful to eat something beforehand. Having at least something in your system before taking vitamins or medication can lessen specific side effects like nausea. And while there’s no specific time like noon or midnight for optimal absorption, syncing your vitamin intake with your eating and drinking schedule can impact this.
For instance, try taking your prenatal vitamin with water and a meal to maximize the vitamin benefits. And if you’re prone to acid reflux, it’s recommended to take your prenatal vitamins with an early meal—such as breakfast or lunch—which lowers the chances for the typical burn of reflux. On the other hand, it can be advantageous to take your folic acid supplement with lots of water on an empty (or near empty) stomach since folic acid is water-soluble.
What Else Can I Do To Support Prenatal Health?
In addition to taking prenatal supplements, there are things you can do to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy. To support your vitamin regimen, you should eat a diet full of beneficial vitamins and nutrients to stimulate growth and development. For example, try eating meals that are one-quarter fruits, one-quarter vegetables, one-quarter protein, whether that be fish and poultry, and the final quarter grains. Even if you eat one meal a day similar to this, it will help support your body immensely during pregnancy.
All in all, prenatal vitamins should be used to fill those nutritional gaps that aren’t fulfilled by your regular diet. While they are certainly not a cure-all, it is an important step toward healthy development for you and your child.