How Do Prenatal Vitamins Differ from Regular Multivitamins?

Pregnancy is an especially important time for a woman in terms of nutrition.  Not only does the pregnant woman need to worry about her own health and well being, she needs to take certain steps to insure that the baby that is growing and developing inside of her has every opportunity to be a healthy and happy baby.  For some women, it is just a matter of sticking to a balanced diet that contains the sorts of vitamins and minerals that she and her baby need.  However, for many women, a prenatal vitamin may be necessary to supplement her nutritional intake.

A prenatal vitamin is similar to a multivitamin.  Both tend to contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health and nutrition.  A prental vitamin tends to have certain components, however, that are either different from or at least in higher amounts than a regular multivitamin.  A prenatal vitamin has more folic acid, more iron, and more calcium than a regular multivitamin.

Folic acid is one of the most important part of a prenatal vitamin.  This vitamin, which is not typically found in great quantities in a regular multivitamin, helps your baby to avoid a variety of birth defects.  The chances of your baby having some of the most common types of serious birth defects, those that affect the neural tube, can be prevented by getting enough folic acid.  In fact, studies suggest that Folic acid can reduce the rates of certain kinds of birth defects by up to 70%.  The recommended daily amount of folic acid is 400 mcg, which is what most prenatal vitamins contain.

Calcium is as important for the pregnant woman as it is for the woman who is not pregnant, perhaps even more so.  While more and more regular multivitamins are starting to contain calcium, prenatal vitamins are almost sure to contain it.  Calcium during pregnancy helps a pregnant woman to not lose bone density, and to help her baby’s bones grow.

Iron is another important part of the prenatal vitamin that is often, but not always, found in regular multivitamins.  Iron helps the mother’s body and blood be able to carry the oxygen it needs to.  It also helps the baby’s blood to carry oxygen as well.  The recommended amount of iron for the pregnant woman is 50% more than the woman who is not pregnant, so prenatal vitamins typically have more iron than regular multivitamins.

Leila Pereira
Leila Pereira
I work in occupational therapy and occupational science. I specialize in early intervention pediatrics for children from birth to three years old; with an emphasis on children with autism. My goals are to support the achievement of developmental milestones in your child while collaborating with caregivers & parents; including play skill development, education, leisure, rest and sleep, feeding, nutrition and social participation. Licensed by the California Board of Occupational Therapy

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