We recommend that you take prenatal vitamins throughout the pregnancy and for the duration of breast-feeding, or at least until the six-week postpartum checkup. During the first trimester, vitamins may aggravate pregnancy-related nausea. In this case, take only the folic acid, 1 mg. daily, until the nausea has abated.
We prefer prescription prenatal vitamins rather than over-the-counter. The prescription vitamins contain more folic acid and more iron. Also, many insurance plans will pay for prescription vitamins. Brands we prescribe include: CitraCal, Prenate, Pre-Care and others.
GENERIC PRESCRIPTION PRENATAL VITAMINS
When we prescribe a Prenatal Vitamin, you will likely get a generic version from your pharmacy. This is the trend for nearly all medication, but especially so for prenatal vitamins. In fact, you might not get a 100% identical vitamin, it might just be a similar formula. In the ideal world, the patient would always get the exact medicine that the doctor prescribes but this does not seem to be the case for most medication. Overall, we feel that nearly all generic prescription prenatal vitamins are fine, but if you have any concerns, please let us know.
WARNING About Over the Counter Prenatal Vitamins
There are hundreds or even thousands of different prenatal (PN) vitamins for sale. Some cost $100 for a one-month supply (or more!), some cost $10. Some contain 5 ingredients, some contain 50 (or more!). Vitamin companies take advantage of our lack of scientific knowledge about nutrition. They do this by including a long list of ingredients in their product but then using such small amounts of those ingredients that there is likely no benefit anyway -- other than being able to include the name of the ingredient on the label.
For example, there is a prenatal vitamin drink that contains 10 mg. of DHA (the standard is 300 mg.). Many PN vitamins include just 50 mg. of calcium, which is next to nothing. Daily calcium requirements exceed 1,000 mg. But this way they can add calcium to the label, lengthening their list of ingredients.
Too many ingredients - "Designer Vitamins"
There is a prenatal vitamin, sold by a high-priced natural food chain, that contains almost 100 different herbs and supplements, the majority of which have almost no scientific data to support their safety or necessity during pregnancy. This is a very expensive product, maybe $100 for 90 capsules. This does not seem too expensive, right? You assume this means one capsule per day for 90 days but you would be wrong. The label says 2 capsules 3 times a day. This $100 bottle is good for just 15 days! I call these "designer vitamins."
Furthermore, many of these are substances we have actually never even heard of, yet somehow they are important nutrients to take while you are pregnant? Folks, why do we believe in this stuff?
Two words come to mind (rip off).
Some vitamins rip off the consumer by selling a large bottle with 180 pills in it. This looks like a 6 month supply, right? Nope. The fine print says that you have to take 2 pills three times a day, so 180 pills is really a one-month supply. Click the label to enlarge it.
Stay Away from Gummy Prenatal Vitamins
We do NOT advise taking Gummy PN Vitamins. They are lacking in important nutrients, especially iron. The leave it out for fear that children will eat these vitamins as candy since iron can be poisonous for small children. It is shameful that they are labeled as
prenatal vitamins when a key ingredient is lacking.
Question: What daily vitamins do you really
need when you are pregnant?
Answer (*for non-vegans):
- Folic acid (1 mg.)
- Iron (about 20 to 30 mg.)
- Calcium (500 to 1,000 mg. only if your diet is low in dairy)
- Vitamin D (400 IU to 1,000 IU)
- DHA (about 250-300 mg a day)
- Iodide (150 mcg daily - if you do not get any table salt)
That's the minimum that should be in your prenatal vitamin
Nearly everything else in the Prenatal Vitamin can be obtained from a well-balanced diet. It is likely that a quality prenatal vitamin containing the above ingredients can be purchased from a drug store or even CostCo, Target or Wal-Mart, for maybe $10 per month. Use the money you are saving by not buying designer vitamins to buy other cool things for your baby!
(*Vegans have additional vitamin requirements).