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Paula Kashtan

How To Choose A Prenatal Vitamin

Why do I need prenatal vitamins, and how do I pick the best kind?

Your body simply has some extra needs when you’re pregnant, and vitamin supplements are a helpful way to get in these essentials. Your own eating habits and physical condition play a big role in determining what supplements are right for you, but here's what to look for in a vitamin:

Folic acid is one of the biggies. This vitamin so drastically reduces the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida that many doctors recommend every woman of childbearing age get at least 400 mcg each day. To keep up with your increased blood volume, you’ll also need more iron (at least 27 mg each day) during pregnancy. Extra  calcium will help keep your own bones strong while your body is in the process of creating new ones for baby. Many women now also take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement like DHA, which helps baby's brain, nerve and eye tissue development. On the flip side, watch your intake of vitamins A,D,E and K — these can be toxic in large amounts. The best way to find the right supplement for you? Take a good, honest look at your diet and talk with your doctor.

Plus, more from The Bump:

Prenatal Vitamin Checklist

What Time of Day to Take a Prenatal Vitamin

Tricks to Help You Remember to Take Your Prenatal Vitamin