Why Are Prenatal Vitamins Important and How to Choose Them?

If you're expecting and want to give your child the nutrients for its healthy development, you should take prenatal vitamins. Learn more.
Why Are Prenatal Vitamins Important and How to Choose Them?
Marcela Alejandra Caffulli

Written and verified by the pediatrician Marcela Alejandra Caffulli.

Last update: 28 March, 2023

All mothers-to-be want to provide their little ones with the care they need to ensure their proper development and well-being. And thanks to multivitamin supplements, valuable nutrients can be provided for a healthy pregnancy. Keep reading to find out why prenatal vitamins are important and what to consider when choosing them.

In addition to a balanced diet and moderate physical activity, experts recommend that pregnant women take supplements to supplement all the vitamins and minerals that are essential during pregnancy. Nutrients such as folic acid and iron play a fundamental role in the normal development of babies.

Prenatal vitamins are of great help to children and their mothers

Thanks to advances in medicine, it has been possible to demonstrate the impact that some nutrients have during pregnancy. And although most of these can be obtained through a good diet, acquiring prenatal vitamins is a great idea to protect the health and integrity of mothers and their children.

Multiple studies have shown that a continuous administration of folic acid supplements during pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects. This is of great importance, as it has great benefits in children’s cognitive development, making the children of treated mothers have better scores than their peers of the same age.

Meanwhile, we know anemia is the most common problem among pregnant women. It’s a condition that’s mainly linked to nutritional deficiencies and iron deficiency. It has been shown that daily consumption of iron supplements increases iron reserves and helps prevent anemia in expectant mothers .

4 tips for choosing the best prenatal vitamins

Today you can find a wide variety of prenatal vitamins online or in the nearest pharmacy, each with its benefits and particularities. However, beyond commercial promises, it’s important to look at some specific data to choose the best alternative for the health of the mother and her baby.

Here are some recommendations to choose the best prenatal supplement.

1. Look for quality multivitamins

A pregnant woman smiling while she takes prenatal vitamins.

As we explained earlier, it’s proven that supplementation with folic acid and iron brings great benefits during pregnancy. And although you can find simple options that contain these two minerals, you have the alternative of supplementing them with a multinutrient compound that also has calcium, zinc, iodine, vitamin D, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and B vitamins among its ingredients.

It’s important to emphasize that before making the decision to start taking a prenatal supplement, it’s essential to consult the opinion of your family doctor. Although it’s a practice recommended by professionals, when the doses of some vitamins are exceeded, some secondary problems may arise. For example, during pregnancy, an excessive intake of vitamin A can cause intellectual damage to babies.

2. Supplement your dietary deficiencies

Throughout pregnancy, it’s essential that mothers follow the nutritional recommendations of their doctors so that their babies can benefit from all the vitamins and minerals required for healthy growth. However, some of these compounds are found to a large extent in foods that many women may not like.

An example of this is Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that can be found naturally in a wide variety of fish and seafood. According to the Spanish Heart Foundation (FEC), its consumption contributes to maintaining normal cholesterol levels and is crucial for the strengthening of neurons and the baby’s cerebrovascular health. So, if you don’t like seafood, opting for an Omega-3 supplement is a great idea.

3. Carefully review the ingredients and their dosages

A pregnant woman pouring pills into her hand.

Keep in mind that the amount of vitamins and minerals each pregnant woman needs depends on several factors to which you need to pay attention. For example, people who follow a vegan and vegetarian diet may be more at risk of having a vitamin B12 deficiency because it’s found in meat and other animal products.

Because of the above, it’s crucial to consult what the recommended daily amounts of nutrients are for pregnant women. The recommended daily intake is 1000 mg of calcium, 27 mg of iron, and 600 micrograms (0.6 mcg) of folic acid per day (although this amount can be increased if you’re at risk for neural tube defects due to family history).

4. Choose the one that works best for you

When buying the best prenatal vitamins, it’s important to choose those options that meet the requirements of each mother and have a presentation that facilitates their consumption. Because if you choose a large pill, taking it every day can be a challenge for some women, in which case it’s advisable to opt for chewable or liquid supplements .

That’s why it’s important to look for the product that works for each pregnant woman, as many times, the recommendation of one friend may not be the right one for another. Try to find the right doses in a supplement that’s easy to consume so that it becomes an easy habit to follow.

Prenatal vitamins help to take care of the health of mothers and their children

All pregnant women want to give their little ones everything they need to take care of their health, and consuming prenatal supplements is a decision to ensure their nutritional requirements. So, during your first check-ups, don’t miss the opportunity and ask your family doctor or OB/GYN to recommend a good option.

Finally, remember that prenatal vitamins can cause constipation in many cases. To prevent this condition, try to stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, include more fiber in your diet, and be physically active. This way, you can benefit from all the advantages of these supplements.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • García, A. E., López, E., & Sánchez, M. (2015). Importance of iodine and folic acid as supplements in the diet of pregnant women. Neonatal effects. Journal of Perinatal Medicine, 43. https://doi.org/10.1515/jpm-2015-2003
  • McNulty H, Rollins M, Cassidy T, Caffrey A, Marshall B, Dornan J, McLaughlin M, McNulty BA, Ward M, Strain JJ, Molloy AM, Lees-Murdock DJ, Walsh CP, Pentieva K. (2019). Effect of continued folic acid supplementation beyond the first trimester of pregnancy on cognitive performance in the child: a follow-up study from a randomized controlled trial (FASSTT Offspring Trial). BMC Med. 2019 Oct 31;17(1):196. doi: 10.1186/s12916-019-1432-4. PMID: 31672132; PMCID: PMC6823954.
  • Peña-Rosas JP, De-Regil LM, García-Casal MN, Dowswell T. (2015). Daily oral iron supplementation during pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Jul 22;2015(7):CD004736. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004736.pub5. PMID: 26198451; PMCID: PMC8918165.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.