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Tips for Choosing the Right Prenatal Vitamin

Good nutrition is one of the best things you can do to keep yourself healthy during pregnancy. But it’s not always possible to get all the essential nutrients that your body (and the baby) needs from food alone.

Like many other OB/GYNs, our women’s health specialists at Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC, recommend prenatal vitamins to boost nutrient intake for prenatal care

You can find many brands and types of prenatal vitamins at any pharmacy or big-box store. How do you know which one to take? Here are our best tips on how to choose the right prenatal vitamin.

Why you need prenatal vitamins

You need higher amounts of many essential vitamins and minerals during pregnancy to meet your and your baby’s needs. Eating a balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy proteins, and good sources of calcium (milk, fortified plant milk) is a good place to start. But even if you eat perfectly, you may not get all of the nutrients you need.

Failing to get an adequate supply of essential vitamins and minerals is detrimental to your health and may increase the risk of birth defects. To reduce these risks, you need a prenatal vitamin to supplement your balanced diet.  

Nutrients to look for

A good prenatal vitamin supplies your body with all of the essential nutrients, meeting 100% of your needs for pregnancy. Check the label and make sure the supplement you choose contains an adequate supply of the following nutrients:

Folic acid

Folic acid is a B vitamin and one of the most important nutrients you need during pregnancy. Getting an adequate amount of folic acid may reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Your prenatal vitamin should have at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.


Calcium is a mineral that keeps bones strong and healthy. You need more calcium during pregnancy for your bone health and to support development of the baby’s skeleton. Not getting enough calcium lowers your bone density and strength. 

Your prenatal vitamins should have 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that also supports bone health and helps absorb calcium. Make sure your prenatal vitamin provides 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D. 


Your blood volume doubles during pregnancy, and anemia (not enough red blood cells) is a common problem in pregnant women. Iron is a blood-builder that helps carry oxygen to all of the tissues and organs in your body. During pregnancy, you need 27 mg of iron a day.

Other tips for selecting supplements

Dietary supplements aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s up to the maker of the vitamin to ensure their product is safe and contains the ingredients and nutrients listed on the label.

Organizations like, NSF International, and US Pharmacopeia independently test dietary supplements to make sure they contain what the label states. When looking for a prenatal vitamin, select ones that have the seal of quality assurance indicating they’ve been tested. 

We can talk to you about the brands of prenatal vitamins we like, but you still need to make sure they provide the nutrients you need. We may also recommend additional supplements separate from your prenatal vitamin if we have concerns about deficiencies.

Our team at Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC, recommends taking prenatal vitamins if you’re trying to get pregnant or as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Take the supplement as directed on the label or as recommended by your OB/GYN.

Pregnancy changes your nutritional needs, and prenatal vitamins ensure you get an adequate supply of essential nutrients. If you have questions about vitamins or nutrition before or during pregnancy, we can provide the answers you need.

Call our office in Hastings or Grand Island, Nebraska, or request an appointment online to schedule a consultation today.

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