What’s in a Prenatal Vitamin?

What?

  • FOLATE aka FOLIC ACID (most important)
  • Iodine
  • +/- Iron (this can also be supplemented separately as needed, such as for anemia)

Why?

  • Folate reduces risk of neural tube defects (birth defects), such as spina bifida
  • Iodine optimizes thyroid health and fetal brain development

When?

  • Optimal to start about 3 months prior to conception
  • Take 1 serving (number varies by vitamin) daily

How much?

  • At least 400 mcg folate per day, but individual needs may be higher
  • 150 mcg per day of iodine

Where?

  • Any pharmacy or grocery store, or available online

Other ingredients?

  • Limited evidence for other ingredients, but they are usually not harmful.
  • It is important to avoid excessive quantities, such as for Vitamin A or B vitamins.

Which are legitimate products?

  • Prenatal vitamins can be given as a prescription from your doctor
  • Prescription brands are FDA-regulated
  • Direct-to-consumer (aka over-the-counter, or OTC) brands are not as strictly regulated
  • If you buy it OTC, check for the following certification standards:
    • Look for NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certified
    • Or look for USP (United States Pharmacopeia) verified

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