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How do I Choose the Best Prenatal Tablet?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 17, 2024
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During a pregnancy, an expecting mother needs more nutrition than usual. Prenatal vitamins are an excellent way to get the extra nutrition for women who are pregnant and women who are trying to get pregnant. Choosing the right prenatal vitamin can be daunting, so there are a few guidelines that you can follow. Your obstetrician may recommend or prescribe a certain vitamin. Also, a daily prenatal tablet should contain a certain amount of several crucial vitamins, and it should be easily absorbed by your body.

Most doctors or midwives will usually recommend a certain prenatal tablet for expecting mothers to take. Sometimes an obstetrician will even prescribe a prenatal vitamin, but these are often much more potent than over-the-counter brands and can cause nausea in some women. Most over-the-counter prenatal tablets are just as good as the prescribed ones, and they are relatively inexpensive.

By reading the label on prenatal tablet containers, you can tell what types of vitamins and supplements are included in that particular brand. Keep in mind that you and your baby need a certain daily requirement of many vitamins to remain healthy. Some important vitamins to look for include folic acid, calcium, Docosahexaeonic acid (DHA), and iron.

Folic acid is the manufactured version of folate, and it is more easily absorbed into the body than folate. This supplement plays a major role in preventing certain neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Women who are trying to get pregnant and expecting mothers need between 400 and 1,000 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. If there is a history of brain or spine birth defects in your family, however, your doctor may recommend that you take a much larger dose of folic acid both before and during your pregnancy.

Calcium is another supplement that is very important during pregnancy. Since this is made up of very large molecules, chances are your prenatal tablet does not contain enough calcium. Expecting mothers need roughly 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium, and many prenatal vitamins do not contain enough calcium. A separate calcium supplement, in addition to your current prenatal tablet, may be necessary. Vitamins C and D are also important because they can help the body absorb calcium.

DHA is another supplement that most companies add to their prenatal vitamins. This fatty acid can be found naturally in certain types of fish, and it is essential for proper brain, nerve, and eye development. Although there is no formal dosage recommendation for DHA, many doctors suggest that pregnant mothers choose a prenatal tablet that contains about 300 milligrams of DHA.

Some mothers may become anemic during pregnancy. Choosing a prenatal tablet that contains iron can prevent this from occurring. Depending on your needs, most doctors will recommend that you get anywhere from 27 to 60 milligrams of iron when you are pregnant.

Even if a prenatal tablet contains all the recommended amounts of certain supplements, it is useless if your body can not absorb these nutrients. Prenatal tablets are more easily absorbed if taken with or shortly before a meal when the acids in the stomach are secreted. There is a simple test that you can do at home to find out whether your prenatal tablet will be easily absorbed by your body. Drop a single tablet into a cup of vinegar and stir it every few minutes. If it is not fully dissolved, or at least softened roughly 45 minutes later, your body may not be able to break it down and absorb it well.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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