Prenatal Vitamin Uses
Prenatal vitamins are primarily used for supplementing any nutritional gaps in a pregnant woman's diet. However, prenatal vitamins are also beneficial for women who are breastfeeding or trying to conceive. Prenatal vitamins contain important vitamins and minerals (such as folic acid and DHA), which can help prevent certain birth defects and improve brain and eye development. Prenatal vitamin use is not recommended for children or elderly people.
Prenatal vitamins are used to fill in any nutritional gaps in a pregnant woman's diet. Even women who attempt to eat nutritional and well-balanced diets may be prone to having nutritional gaps during pregnancy, due to food aversions, morning sickness, and other problems.
Prenatal vitamins are also useful for breastfeeding women and women trying to conceive. Because it is important to get enough folic acid prior to pregnancy and during early pregnancy (including the early weeks before it is even possible to know if you are pregnant), your healthcare provider may recommend that you take a prenatal vitamin while trying to get pregnant. In fact, because unplanned pregnancies are so common, it is a good idea for any sexually active woman of reproductive age to take a prenatal vitamin (or at least a multivitamin with a minimum of 400 mcg of folic acid).
In general, prenatal vitamins contain some calcium, but not nearly enough. Calcium is a bulky mineral, and including enough calcium would make prenatal vitamins much too large to swallow. Also, calcium is best taken two or three times a day, not all in one dose. Depending on your dietary intake of calcium, it may be a good idea for you to take extra calcium (in addition to your prenatal vitamin) during pregnancy.
Do not take any additional vitamins without first talking to your healthcare provider. Taking too much of certain vitamins can cause problems during pregnancy.