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Why Take Prenatal Vitamins When Trying to Get Pregnant?

by DP Nguyen

in Preconception / Trying to Conceive

Vitamins when Trying to Get PregnantWhen you’re trying to conceive, you should start taking prenatal vitamins every day. Although we normally associate prenatal multivitamins with pregnant women, studies have shown that women trying to get pregnant can also benefit from taking these vitamins.

Although you can meet your nutritional needs through a balanced and healthy diet, busy family lives and demanding careers can make healthy eating nearly impossible. Most women don’t get all the nutrients and vitamins that their body needs by food alone. They need a prenatal vitamin to improve their odds of getting pregnant.

Did you know that a lack of nutrients and vitamins in your diet can lead to infertility? When you don’t get all the nutrients that your body needs, your menstrual cycle can be thrown out of whack and you can experience irregular periods and ovulation problems, as a result. So when you’re trying to get pregnant, take a prenatal vitamin every day to improve your odds of conceiving.

Think of your prenatal vitamins as a safeguard, or an insurance policy, that ensures that you’re getting all the nutrients that you need for a healthy body, and a healthy reproductive system.

Taking a Prenatal Vitamin Helps You Get Pregnant Faster

In a 2011 study, published in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online, found that women who are undergoing fertility treatments are more likely to conceive when they take a prenatal multivitamin supplement every day.

The study found that women who take a prenatal multivitamin were more likely to get pregnant, and 60 percent were still pregnant three months later. These women were also more likely to have fewer fertility treatments. Three-fourths of them got pregnant on the first cycle of their fertility treatment.

Because prenatal vitamins don’t have any side effects or harm effects, if you’re trying to conceive (TTC), it’s a good idea to start taking a prenatal vitamin every day.

Why Take Prenatal Vitamins, Not Regular Vitamins When TTC?

When you’re trying to get pregnant, it’s a good idea to switch to a prenatal vitamin. Regular over-the-counter multivitamins are fine when pregnancy isn’t on your mind. But when you’re TTC, the mega-doses of vitamins and minerals in a regular multivitamin can be harmful to the unborn baby.

Fat soluble vitamins – including vitamins A, D, E, and K – can build up to very high, toxic levels when you take too much. These vitamins are stored in your body. If you accidentally get pregnant, and you’re taking too much vitamin A, this can cause birth defects and other problems. For this reason, you need to switch to prenatal vitamins when you’re trying to conceive.

Get Lots of Folic Acid When Trying to Conceive

If you are TTC, you need to start taking a prenatal multivitamin with at least 600 micrograms of folic acid. This water-soluble B-vitamin has been proven to decrease your baby’s risk of neural tube defects. All women trying to get pregnant need to start taking a folic acid supplement, or a prenatal vitamin, at least one month before you conceive.

Neural tube defects often develop in the very early weeks of pregnancy, before a missed period, and before you know that you’ve conceived. A lack of folic acid (or folate) in your diet can increase your risk, so you definitely need to get this vitamin in your diet when you’re trying to get pregnant.

In addition to finding a prenatal vitamin with 600 to 800 micrograms of folic acid, you should eat plenty of folate-rich foods and vegetables, including spinach and other leafy green vegetables, oranges and citrus fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fortified cereals and breads.

Zinc Increases Fertility

An essential mineral that you need to get in your diet when trying to conceive is zinc. Most people are deficient in zinc, since the mineral is striped out of many foods during the refining and manufacturing process. Studies have shown that zinc actually increases fertility for both men and women. In men, zinc boosts healthy sperm production. In women, zinc promotes healthy cell division, which is crucial in the early stages of conception and fetal development.

A good prenatal vitamin should include zinc, but make sure that you also load up on zinc-rich foods when you’re trying to get pregnant. This includes fish, pumpkin seed, mangoes, and oysters.

What’s the Best Prenatal Vitamin?

I can’t recommend any specific brand of prenatal vitamin. You need to talk to your healthcare provider or OB/GYN about what he or she recommends in your individual case.

Keep in mind that not all prenatal vitamins are created equal, so you need to find one that contains at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Your prenatal multivitamin needs to also contain vitamin D, calcium, vitamin C, thiamine and riboflavin, niacine, vitamin B12, vitamin E, zinc and iron.

Women react differently to the various types of prenatal vitamins. Your prenatal vitamin can make you nauseous, so you may want to talk to your doctor about what’s best for you. For some women, they do better with chewable prenatal vitamins or liquid vitamins.


DP Nguyen is founder and editor of Hip Chick's Guide to PMS, Pregnancy and Babies. She’s an expert pregnancy and women’s health blogger. She is NOT a medical doctor and does NOT offer medical advice. Connect with her on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.

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