Posts Tagged ‘prenatal vitamins’

What should you look for in a prenatal vitamin?

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

Your body uses vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to help it stay strong and healthy. During pregnancy it’s hard to get the right amount of some vitamins and minerals just through food. That’s why you should take a prenatal vitamin every day during pregnancy. Taking prenatal vitamins along with eating healthy foods can make sure that you and your baby get the nutrients you both need.

Here’s what you should look for in a prenatal vitamin:

Folic acid: 600 micrograms

Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. Taking it before and during early pregnancy, can help prevent neural tube defects (also called NTDs).

Some foods such as bread, cereal, and corn masa have folic acid added to them. Look for “fortified” or “enriched” on the label.

When folic acid is naturally in a food, it’s called folate. Sources of folate include:

  • Leafy green vegetables, like spinach and broccoli
  • Lentils and beans
  • Orange juice

Iron: 27 milligrams

Iron is a mineral. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein that helps carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. Your body needs twice as much iron during pregnancy to carry oxygen to your baby.

Iron-rich foods include:

  • Lean meat, poultry and seafood
  • Cereal, bread and pasta that has iron added to it (check the package label)
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Beans, nuts, raisins and dried fruit

Calcium: 1,000 milligrams

Calcium is a mineral that helps your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nerves develop.

Calcium is found in:

  • Milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Broccoli and kale
  • Orange juice that has calcium added to it (check the label)

Vitamin D: 600 IU (international units)

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium and helps your nerves, muscles and immune system work. Your baby needs vitamin D to help his bones and teeth grow.

Vitamin D is found in foods such as:

  • Fatty fish, like salmon
  • Milk and cereal that has vitamin D added to it (check the package label)

DHA: 200 milligrams

DHA stands for docosahexaenoic acid. It’s a kind of fat (called omega-3 fatty acid) that helps with growth and development. During pregnancy, DHA helps your baby’s brain and eyes develop.

Not all prenatal vitamins contain DHA, so ask your provider if you need a DHA supplement. DHA can be found in some foods including:

  • Fish that are low in mercury, like herring, salmon, trout, anchovies and halibut. During pregnancy, eat 8-12 ounces of these kinds of fish each week.
  • Orange juice, milk and eggs that have DHA added to them (check the label)

Iodine: 220 micrograms

Iodine is a mineral your body needs to make thyroid hormones. You need iodine during pregnancy to help your baby’s brain and nervous system develop.

Not all prenatal vitamins have iodine, so make sure you eat foods that have iodine in them. This includes:

  • Fish
  • Milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Enriched or fortified cereal and bread (check the package label)
  • Iodized salt (salt with iodine added to it; check the package label)

A note about vitamin A….

Your baby needs vitamin A for healthy growth and development during pregnancy. But too much may cause birth defects.

Preformed vitamin A is found in foods such as liver and fish liver oil. You should avoid fish liver oil supplements during pregnancy, but occasionally you can eat a small portion of liver. Very high levels of preformed vitamin A can cause birth defects. You should not get more than 10,000 international units (IU) of vitamin A each day.

Beta carotene is another form of vitamin A found in certain yellow and green vegetables. Beta carotene is not associated with birth defects and is safe to consume.

Talk to your health care provider about getting the right amount of vitamin A from healthy eating and your prenatal vitamin.

Make sure to tell your provider about any additional vitamins or supplements that you take.

Got vitamins?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

67958806_thbWhether you visit this blog regularly (woo hoo!) or you’re stopping by for the first time (welcome!), I’m sure you’ve heard by now that women are encouraged to take folic acid everyday. Getting the recommended amount through diet alone can be tough though. That’s why March of Dimes has created a quick and easy way to get the information you need on this important topic. Through video and audio you can meet medical experts like Dr. Dolan and Dr. Fleischman who discuss the importance of taking folic acid before pregnancy. Click here to watch and listen. Let us know what you think!

Ladies – keep on taking those vitamins!

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

You may have seen recent news coverage about a study showing that daily multivitamins may not help prevent cancer or heart disease. But that doesn’t mean you should stop taking your multivitamins. That’s because most multivitamins have folic acid, and folic acid is known to help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord when taken before the end of early pregnancy. The trouble is that most women may not even know they’re pregnant at the time when folic acid is most beneficial at preventing birth defects. That’s why it’s important that women take multivitamins before getting pregnant.

When shopping for a multivitamin, make sure it has at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Once you know you’re pregnant, your health provider will give you prenatal vitamins, which have the amount of folic acid you need.

Recall of prenatal vitamins & iron supplements

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

vitamins-26377178_thmThe FDA announced yesterday that Ther-Rx Corporation and ETHEX Corporation, both subsidiaries of KV Pharmaceutical Company, have issued voluntary nationwide recalls of prescription prenatal vitamin products and prescription iron supplement products.  The companies are taking this action as a precautionary measure, “because the products may have been manufactured under conditions that did not sufficiently comply with current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP).”

The FDA says that patients who may have these products in their possession should continue to take them in accordance with their prescriptions, as the risk of suddenly stopping needed medication may place patients at risk.  “Patients should contact their healthcare provider if they have experienced any problems that may be related to taking or using these products, or to obtain replacement medication or prescriptions.”


Confessions of a health information specialist

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

When we decided we were ready for a baby I went to my doctor first and she wrote me a prescription for prenatal vitamins. I’ll admit…I was not a multivitamin taker before then (insert “gasping” sound here). I know, I know!! All women of reproductive age should take a daily multivitamin as a part of a healthy diet and because pregnancy isn’t always planned for. Quite honestly, before I started working for the March of Dimes I had no idea how important that was for me and you. OK, so I fessed-up. What about you? Did you take you multivitamin today?

Prenatal Vitamins

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

I was in my car and heading back to work when I realized that I was smiling. My prescription slip was safely tucked in my daily planner on the passenger’s seat. I was happy and this was really happening. I couldn’t wait to drop it off at the pharmacy later that day. I wanted to see Joe and tell him all about my visit.

I brought the prescription up to the counter at CVS. They had my insurance information on file so the technician said it would only take about ten minutes. I aimlessly shopped around for things I didn’t need such as pony tail holders and sunflower seeds. When I returned the tech asked for my signature as she rummaged through a bin of stapled white bags. She found mine, scanned it and then I almost passed out. Forty-five bucks!?!

I started talking to myself out loud. “This is crazy. $45 a month for vitamins. Are these magical vitamins?” I must have been scaring the other customers because the pharmacist quickly walked up to the register. My insurance didn’t cover this particular brand. She said that they did have the generic version in stock, but we would have to get permission from my health care provider to switch. I left the store with no white bag.

It wasn’t that big of a deal. The next morning I got in touch with my doctors office and they called in the new prescription. The moral of the story is this… if you’re given a prescription talk to your health care provider or pharmacist about generic alternatives. It may save you a few bucks. And if you’re planning to have a baby saving money is especially important. That goes for over-the-counter medications too, including multivitamins. Just make sure to talk to your doctor, always read labels and follow the instructions before use.

Annual check-up

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

A few weeks ago I went for an annual visit with my nurse-midwife, Lucy. Once I told her that my husband and I were thinking about having a baby within a year or so she immediately perked up and asked, “besides an annual, this is a preconception visit”? To which I replied, yes and reminded myself to breathe.

So I had the usual exam, but with an added and lengthy interview about our family medical history, nutrition and exercise. Lucy ordered some extra blood work that would test for immunity to certain childhood illnesses. She wrote a prescription for prenatal vitamins, wished me well and said, “call me when you get pregnant”.

A few days later I received a call. Even though I had the chicken pox as a kid, my blood work showed that my immunity was border line and she recommended that I get the vaccine just to be on the safe side. If a woman catches chickenpox during pregnancy, there can be serious consequences to the baby, depending on when in pregnancy the infection occurs. Experts recommend that a newly vaccinated woman wait at least one month before trying to get pregnant.

If you’re thinking about having a baby now’s the best time to schedule a check-up. Even if you’re not planning to get pregnant right away, it’s never too soon to get yourself in shape for motherhood.