Prenatal Vitamin Uses

When Should I Start a Prenatal Vitamin?

Ideally, women should start taking a prenatal vitamin (or at least a regular multivitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid) while trying to conceive. However, because many pregnancies are unplanned, it may be a good idea for any sexually active woman of childbearing age to take a multivitamin with at least 400 mcg of folic acid. It is best to start the vitamin early, as folic acid is important very early in pregnancy (before you even know you are pregnant).
Typically, healthcare providers usually recommend a prenatal vitamin at your first prenatal visit (once you are pregnant). Until you have seen your healthcare provider, it is a good idea to take a multivitamin (or non-prescription prenatal vitamin).

How Do Prenatal Vitamins Work?

Prenatal vitamins contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that are important for a healthy pregnancy. Most importantly, prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, an important nutrient that can prevent certain birth defects (such as spina bifida). They also usually contain iron, calcium, and a variety of other vitamins and minerals.
Some prenatal vitamins now have omega-3 fatty acids, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which may be important for brain and eye development. Also, some prenatal vitamins contain docusate sodium, a stool softener that can help prevent or relieve constipation (which is common during pregnancy and can be made worse by the minerals in prenatal vitamins).

Prenatal Vitamin Use in Children or the Elderly

Prenatal vitamins are not recommended for use in children or the elderly. Sometimes, prenatal vitamins are prescribed in place of regular vitamins in order to get them covered by insurance or Medicaid (although many insurance companies and Medicaid programs have caught on to this practice and now restrict coverage of prenatal vitamins only to pregnant women). Many prenatal vitamins contain iron in doses that are too high for children or elderly people.
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Information on Prenatal Vitamins

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