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When Should You Start Prenatal Vitamins?

Pregnant women need to take certain prenatal vitamins. These prenatal vitamins are specially made for pregnant women and for those who are trying to get pregnant. But, when should you start prenatal vitamins? Read on to know more about these and when should you start prenatal vitamins.

What Are Prenatal Vitamins?

Most nutrients that are required for you and your baby should come from the foods that you eat. However, it is also a good idea to take prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins are supplements made for pregnant women and these supplements contain daily vitamins and minerals that you require before and during your pregnancy. Your doctor can recommend the best prenatal vitamins for you.

Folic acid is the most crucial vitamin that is necessary for pre-pregnancy health. It is also important for you to take during your pregnancy. This folic acid is a B-vitamin that the cells in your body require for growing and developing. But, prenatal vitamins contain many other essential nutrients required for the growth and development of your baby while it is still in your womb. So, when you are planning for pregnancy or when you are pregnant, you should take these prenatal vitamins.

When Should You Start Prenatal Vitamins?

When Should You Start Prenatal Vitamins?

It is indeed that there are many limitations of types of medications and supplements that you can take during your pregnancy. However, prenatal vitamins are strongly recommended for you if you are pregnant or if you are planning to be pregnant. A good prenatal can aid you in keeping you and your growing baby healthy while ensuring that you both are getting all the essential nutrients that are needed during those 9 months of pregnancy.

Some doctors even tell women to begin taking these prenatal vitamins before pregnancy. So, when should you start prenatal vitamins?

When we come to answer this question, we can come up with two answers. One is when you plan to try for a pregnancy, and the other is when you find that you are presubgnant.

When You Plan To Try For A Pregnancy

Are you planning to have a child? If yes, then apart from scheduling your visit with a gynecologist, quitting birth control pills, and cutting out unhealthy behaviors, you should also start taking prenatal vitamins. It must be mentioned that prenatal vitamins are an essential part of preconception care.

Now, let us come to the point, why take prenatal vitamins even before pregnancy? It is indeed that pregnancy offer you great happiness. However, it also takes a lot of you. Your little fetus is the major drain on the natural resources of your body, and that’s the reason why you feel exhausted, nauseated, moody, achy, weepy, crampy, and forgetful, most of the time during the 9 months of your pregnancy. Your child gets all the essential nutrients that it needs from you directly. So, you can easily become deficient in the most important minerals and vitamins during pregnancy. So, to be sure that your body has everything that it needs to nourish you and your baby is much easier if you start taking prenatal vitamins before your pregnancy. If you have more vitamins and essential nutrients in your body, you can afford to share those vitamins and nutrients with your baby as they start growing in your womb.

When You Know You Are Pregnant

>If you are aware that you are pregnant, you should begin taking prenatal vitamins as soon as possible.

Your gynecologist might suggest you a specific brand of prenatal vitamin or might even offer you a prescription.

Essential Nutrients Required For You During Pregnancy

Here, let us discuss the essential nutrients that are required for you during your pregnancy. According to the ACOG or American College Of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the following are some of the most important nutrients that you need.(1)

Folic Acid

Folic acid is the most important nutrient required by pregnant women. Taking 400 mcg of folic acid daily for at least 1 month before and during your pregnancy can help you reduce the risk for problems with the spine and the brain of your baby, which is called neural tube defects or NTDs.

Folic acid supplements increase the likelihood of healthy neural tube growth.(2) The American Academy of Pediatrics has explained that folic acid can reduce neural tube defects or NTDs by at least 50%.(3)

Since folic acid is so effective, but only when you are taking them enough and at the right time, so it has been recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all sexually active women of childbearing age, should take 400 mcg or 400 micrograms of folic acid regularly.(4)

We must tell you that women who have had a pregnancy that has been affected by NTDs or with diseases like sickle cell disease, might require more folic acid. You should always consult with your doctor about the right dose for you.


The baby in your womb is spending lots of time building up their teeth and bones. For this, a lot of calcium is required. This means that you require plenty of calcium while you are pregnant. If you do not take enough calcium, your baby will take whatever calcium it requires right from your bones during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This can cause a temporary bone loss in you.


One more nutrient is iron, which is essential for you to take before and during pregnancy. Iron supplies the growing fetus with blood and oxygen and also helps build the placenta, and gives you the extra blood volume that you need throughout your pregnancy.

Apart from this, iron supplementation is important for pregnant women as they are prone to anemia. Iron supplements ensure that you have the right amount of RBCs in your blood. Anemia during pregnancy is linked with higher rates of premature delivery and also a low birth weight of the infant.

Possible Side Effects Of Prenatal Vitamins

In general, the nutrients and vitamins, which are included in prenatal, will not cause any serious side effects. But, if they cause detrimental side effects, then pregnant moms should not be encouraged to take them.

Your iron needs might increase from 18 mg to 27 mg during the pregnancy. When you take prenatal vitamins, this increased intake of iron might cause side effects like constipation and nausea, and over time this excess of nutrients might become more problematic.

Extra Benefits Of Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are also believed to gift you glowing skin as they contain biotin in them, which is one of the all essential B-vitamins.

However, one study after another has failed to prove any essential beauty benefits to taking this B-vitamin, the Biotin.(5)

There are some extra benefits of taking prenatal vitamins. If you take the prenatal with DHA, for example, you will be getting a lot of omega-3 fatty acids that might help the development of your baby’s brain and eyes.

Moreover, you might also get thyroid-regulating iodine, which can help in the development of your baby’s nervous system.

There is also research that indicates that taking prenatal vitamins might increase your chances of pregnancy.(6)

NOTE: You should be clear that prenatal vitamins are not any magic to cure infertility issues. However, many of the nutrients found in prenatal vitamins regulate the body systems that are responsible for making pregnancy possible.

What Should You Check For Before Buying A Daily Prenatal Vitamin?

There are several options available, however, you should check for a few important things before purchasing a prenatal vitamin. Please check below.

Regulatory Oversight

Make sure that you buy the prenatal vitamins containing health and ingredients that have been verified by a certified organization.

Since the FDA or Food and Drug Administration does not regulate any dietary supplements, including prenatal, you should look for groups, such as the Office of Dietary Supplements or the U.S Pharmacopeia Convention.


You should always compare the amounts of key nutrients, such as folate and iron found in your prenatal vitamins to ACOG’s recommended amounts. You would not want to take a prenatal vitamin that is too much or too little of what is required for you.(7)

If you still have doubts about choosing the right kind of prenatal vitamins for you, do not hesitate in asking your doctor for expert advice.

Tips For Taking Prenatal Vitamins

You can minimize the side effects of prenatal vitamins by following some tips. Please read below to know about some of the tips for taking prenatal vitamins.

  • Sometimes a prenatal vitamin is formulated in a way that does not rightly sit with you. You should ask your doctor before switching to another brand.
  • Prenatal vitamins are usually available as gummies, capsules, beverages, and even protein shakes. So, ingesting them differently can help in the digestive process. You should try switching from 1 large capsule to 3 gummies per day or splitting up 2 doses 12 hours apart.
  • You should also drink lots of water before and after. You can also add a fiber supplement if required.
  • If you feel nauseated due to the prenatal vitamins, try to take them with or without food, whatever suits you best. For some people taking vitamins on an empty stomach works good and for some taking vitamins on an empty stomach can be irritating.

Final Words

If you are deciding to get pregnant or if you have come to know that you are pregnant, start taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as possible. However, make sure you consult with your gynecologist and know about the best vitamin for you. Apart from this, add lots of healthy fruits and vegetables and other healthy diets to your diet and drink plenty of water during your pregnancy.


Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 19, 2021

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