The Importance of Prenatal Vitamins Before, During & After Pregnancy
July 29, 2015
Many women have heard about prenatal vitamins and understand that they should take them. But many may not understand the importance of starting to supplement with prenatal vitamins prior to pregnancy and exactly how critical many of the nutrients are that are in prenatal vitamins.
The Reality of Pregnancies
Approximately one million pregnancies, about one in every six, each year are estimated to occur in women who use the pill.1-2 Unexpected pregnancies are a reality. However, even when pregnancies are planned, women typically start taking prenatal vitamins until they meet with their doctor post conception for the first time which typically occurs between weeks 4-8 post conception. The reason this delay in prenatal vitamin supplementation is so critical, is that the baby’s neural tube development occurs during weeks 2-8 post conception.4 The neural tube is a hollow tube from which the brain and spinal cord form. Defects in its development can cause congenital abnormalities.
The Role of Critical Nutrients: Folic Acid
Folic acid plays a critical role in a baby’s neural tube development. Low folic acid levels put babies at risk for neural tube defects (like Spina Bifida), low birth weight, premature birth, and miscarriage.5 In addition, research suggests that the risk of autism spectrum disorders lowers with mothers who take >600 mcg of folic acid daily in month one of pregnancy.6Sadly women often start folic acid supplementation too late to impact neural tube closure.2-3
- When to Start Folic Acid Supplementation – Neural tube development occurs in the first 2-8 weeks of conception, so women should start taking folic acid supplements at least one month prior to conception.7 The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that before and during pregnancy women receive 600-800 mcg of folic acid daily. In postpartum and while breastfeeding, the NIH recommends that women should intake at least 500 mcg of folic acid daily.
The Role of Critical Nutrients: DHA
DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid. It provides a number of benefits to women and their babies during preconception, pregnancy, and while breastfeeding postpartum. DHA supports eye health and development, brain development and cognitive function, as well as healthy gestational length and birth weight for baby.9-12
- When to Start DHA Supplementation – The NIH recommends daily DHA intake start prior to pregnancy and conception.8 During preconception the NIH recommends 220 mg of DHA; 300 mg of DHA during pregnancy and postpartum.
Prenatal Vitamins with DHA & Folic Acid
Every prenatal vitamin in the Prenate® Vitamin Family contains 1 mg L-methylfolate, a bioactive form of folate equivalent to 600 mcg folic acid. Plus many contain recommended amounts of folic acid and DHA. Ask your doctor which Prenate® prenatal vitamin is right for you. Click a product name below to learn more about the nutritional support it provides for you and your developing baby.
Prenate® Vitamins with Folic Acid & DHA
- Prenate Mini® – A small, easy-to-swallow softgel with complete prenatal nutrition support, including 350 mg of DHA
- Prenate® Pixie – Robust Rx prenatal vitamin with 11 concentrated nutrients including DHA in a tiny softgel
- Prenate® Enhance – Advanced prenatal softgel vitamin with 400 mg DHA – the highest level among leading Rx brands − plus highly absorbable forms of folate, 1,000 IU vitamin D3, Formical® calcium, and more
- Prenate® Restore – A softgel vitamin specially designed for the needs of breastfeeding mothers and babies that includes probiotics and DHA to help restore and support GI and immune health
- Prenate DHA® – A prenatal vitamin containing 10 vitamins and minerals including 300 mg DHA, 1 mg folate, calcium, vitamin D3 and iron
- Prenate Essential® – A prenatal vitamin containing 13 vitamins and minerals including 300 mg DHA, 40 mg of EPA, 1 mg folate, calcium, vitamin D3 and iron
Prenate® Vitamins with Folic Acid
- Prenate® Chewable – Dutch chocolate flavor chewable prenatal vitamin including high levels of calcium, vitamin D3, 1 mg folate and no vitamin aftertaste
- Prenate® AM – A prenatal vitamin with 1 mg folate, calcium, and other nutrients, including vitamin B6 and ginger to help manage morning sickness, nausea and vomiting
- Prenate Elite® – A prenatal vitamin containing 17 vitamins and minerals including 1 mg folate, calcium, vitamin D3 and iron