Prenatal Vitamins

While a healthy diet is important during pregnancy and while TTC, it’s possible that even a well-balanced eating plan could still leave you deficient in a few key nutritional areas, some of which are of crucial importance to a baby’s development. It’s best to begin taking prenatal vitamins before conception. The Mayo Clinic recommends beginning a prenatal vitamin regimen up to three months prior to TTC.1 While it’s best to consult your ob-gyn to find out which vitamins your body specifically needs, here are some of the key nutrients that expectant mothers and women who are TTC should focus on:

Folic Acid

The Center for Disease Control (CDC)recommends 400 micrograms of folic acid each day for women who are TTC and pregnant to prevent two very serious birth defects: spina bifida and anencephaly. While the CDC actually recommends all women between the ages of 15 and 45 to take the recommended dose of the supplement daily, it advises strongly that a folic acid routine should be started one month prior to conception, and then during the first three months of pregnancy, at the very least.2

Vitamin D

Vitamins D2 and D3 aid the human development, but in most cases, prenatal vitamins only contain a fraction of the Vitamin D that women who are expecting or TTC need. Women taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D had the greatest benefits for preventing preterm birth and infections, but most prenatal vitamins contain only one-tenth of that amount.3 It can be difficult to find Vitamin D naturally in food sources. Some fortified cereals, yogurts, and juices contain this essential nutrient, but in many cases, expectant mothers need to take in additional Vitamin D through supplements 4


For the mother, calcium aids in keeping the circulatory, nervous, and muscular systems running well. For both the baby and the mother, calcium strengthens teeth and bones. During pregnancy, women need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. It’s possible that lack of adequate calcium during pregnancy could lead to issues such as osteoporosis later in your child’s life. Most prenatal vitamins have adequate amounts of calcium, but be sure to check nonetheless.5


Iron is a mineral required to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen from the lungs to the other parts of the body. This is crucial, because once you become pregnant, your baby will need oxygen, and it also needs iron for its own blood. Most women need about 27 milligrams of iron each day, and many prenatal vitamins have that amount in them. Adequate iron levels can also prevent serious complications like anemia and premature births, as well as fatigue and certain infections.6

Additional Considerations

Your doctor may also want you to incorporate DHA (a crucial omega-3 fatty acid that aids in development) and iodine (a mineral that assists in thyroid regulation and the baby’s nervous system development) to your prenatal vitamin regimen. Not all prenatal vitamins contain these two nutrients, so be sure to check with your ob-gyn to find out the recommended amounts for your body.7 Just as it’s crucial to ensure your body is receiving adequate nutrition while TTC and during pregnancy, it’s also important to avoid taking too many vitamins. Going beyond the recommended doses could be dangerous, so be sure to discuss your vitamin regimen with your ob-gyn during your prenatal visit.8     [avafootnote]

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  1. Mayo Clinic Staff (2015 May 13). Prenatal vitamins: Why they matter, how to choose. Retrieved from
  2. Center for Disease Control, Division of Birth Defects, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (2015 April 28). Retrieved November 4, 2015, from
  3. American Pregnancy Association (2015). Vitamin D and Pregnancy. Retrieved November 3, 2015, from
  4. Anderson, Cindy.(2015 February 12). The importance of nutrition in pregnancy for lifelong health. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved November 4, 2015, from
  5. March of Dimes (2015 March). Eating and Nutrition. Retrieved November 3, 2015, from
  6. March of Dimes; See above.
  7. March of Dimes; See above.
  8. American Pregnancy Association (2015 July). Prenatal Vitamins. Retrieved November 3, 2015, from

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