Women are advised to take prenatal vitamins before and during pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins are specially formulated multivitamins that supplement a diet and often make up for any nutritional deficiencies in the mother's diet.
The most important ingredient in prenatal vitamins is folic acid, a B vitamin. Folic acid can reduce your risk of having a baby with a serious birth defect of the brain and spinal cord, called the "neural tube."
- Calcium during pregnancy can prevent a new mother from losing her own bone density as the fetus uses the mineral for bone growth.
- Iron helps both the mother and baby's blood carry oxygen.
While a daily vitamin supplement is no substitute for a healthy diet, most women need supplements to make sure they get adequate levels of these minerals. Not all prenatal vitamins are the same. You should take a prenatal vitamin that has about 100% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA).