The Best Prenatal Vitamins
There are several types of prenatal vitamins (such as chewable, organic, prescription, and non-prescription), and the one that is best for one woman may not be the best choice for another woman. When choosing a prenatal vitamin, there are many factors to consider, such as cost, ingredients, and certain health needs. If you are having difficulty determining the best prenatal vitamin for you, your healthcare provider should be able to recommend one that fits your particular needs.
Many pregnant women wonder which prenatal vitamins are best. This is a difficult question to answer, as the prenatal vitamins that are best for one woman may not be the best for another woman. Additionally, it can be difficult to directly compare prenatal vitamins, even if they contain the exact same ingredients.
No, not all prenatal vitamins are the same. Over-the-counter prenatal vitamins typically have lower amounts of some vitamins (particularly folic acid). Some prenatal vitamins contain more iron than others (which is helpful for women who are anemic). Some contain a stool softener (usually docusate sodium), which helps relieve constipation, a common problem during pregnancy (which can be made worse by the iron and calcium in prenatal vitamins).
The latest trend is to include docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in prenatal vitamins. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that appears to be important for brain, eye, and heart health. The typical American diet is usually deficient in DHA (because DHA is mostly found in fish). Also, because fish is the primary source of DHA and because pregnant women are often instructed to limit their intake of certain types of fish (to avoid the potential risks of mercury toxicity), many pregnant women may be deficient in DHA. In most formulations, the DHA is included in a soft-gel capsule that is separate from the prenatal vitamin (which means that two pills are necessary each day, instead of one).
Some prenatal vitamins are formulated with special coatings or with specific vitamins that may help with morning sickness. Some are chewable, liquid, organic, or even kosher.
Importantly, there are wide variations in the cost of prenatal vitamins. If your healthcare provider has prescribed one that is too expensive, please ask to switch to a different prenatal vitamin. Many prenatal vitamins are very inexpensive, and there is no reason to not take a prenatal vitamin due to cost.
Most healthcare providers have developed preferences towards specific prenatal vitamins, based on years of experience. Your healthcare provider can help you choose amongst the many different prenatal vitamins that are available.