Written by: Medical Contributor Dr. Cristina Zottola
Prenatal vitamins are recommended prior to conception to help ensure optimal fetal development. Prenatal vitamins can be prescribed or they can be bought over-the-counter in most pharmacies. The exact brand of the vitamin is not as important as the content in the prenatal vitamin.
It is important that prenatal vitamins include folic acid, calcium, iron, DHA, iodine, and vitamin D.
Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects, which is a serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.It is important that the prenatal contains at least 400mcg of folate.
Calcium helps with fetal bone, teeth, heart, muscle, and nerve development. Iron helps support fetal growth and development by helping prevent anemia.
DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that helps with fetal brain and eye development. It is important to note, that not all prenatal vitamins include DHA. Thus when selecting your prenatal vitamin, it is important to check that DHA is listed as an ingredient. Iodine is used to help the body make thyroid hormone. Vitamin D helps the body's nerves, muscles, and immune system work. Additionally, Vitamin D helps the fetal bones and teeth growth.
The vitamins are supposed to complement a healthy diet, not replace a healthy diet. Your OBGYN provider may suggest higher doses of certain nutrients in your vitamin depending on certain circumstances.