Prenatal vitamins: what’s inside, and why do I need them?

Proper nutrition is vital for the development of the baby. Because the mother is supporting the needs of her baby and herself, she will need more of certain nutrients during pregnancy and lactation. If you are pregnant or hoping to get pregnant, prenatal vitamins are recommended to complement a healthy diet (1). They are similar to standard multivitamins, but they will normally contain higher daily values of certain nutrients. 

Look for prenatal vitamins that include:

Folic Acid and Folate

Folic acid and folate are forms of Vitamin B9, which help prevent abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. The CDC encourages pregnant women to take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day during pregnancy (2). It is recommended that all women of reproductive age get this amount of folic acid as well, because roughly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, and the major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spinal cord occur around 3-4 weeks gestation, before most women know they are pregnant.

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, which is added to fortified foods or vitamins (3). It is recommended that, whenever possible, pregnant women get folate from whole foods, such as fruits, grains, and vegetables, in addition to a folic acid supplement (4). 


Iron plays an important role in helping form and support the placenta, and is highly beneficial to the baby’s development. It also protects against anemia, which occurs when the blood has a low number of red blood cells (3). During pregnancy, this is especially important because red blood cells are needed to transport oxygen. 

Choline Bitartrate 

Choline is important for healthy fetal and embryonic brain development (3). It also benefits the liver and placental functions.

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium and vitamin D are basic supports for a baby’s growing bones (3). Vitamin D is also important for maternal health because vitamin D levels can affect pregnant women’s brain function, immunity, mood, and blood pressure. 


Electrolytes, such as magnesium, potassium, and sodium support hydration. Magnesium is especially important for fetal development and blood flow to the brain (3). 


Iodine is imperative to healthy fetal brain development, as well as myelination (the generation of myelin, which helps speed up nerve transport) of the central nervous system (3). Low iodine can affect the production of the thyroid hormone, the deficiency of which can cause brain damage, stillbirth, birth defects, and miscarriage. 

Vitamin B Complex

B-vitamins, including thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, pyridoxine, folate, and cobalamin are all important to have during pregnancy, with folate being the most important one (3). 

Vitamin A

Certain forms of vitamin A, called retinoids, are essential for the development of the baby’s limbs, heart, eyes, and ears (3).

Vitamin C and Vitamin E

Both antioxidant vitamins, C and E play a role in the production of collagen, which is a protein found in the cartilage, skin, bones, and tendons (3). 

When should I take prenatal vitamins?

Women who are pregnant should begin taking prenatal vitamins as soon as possible. It is recommended, in fact, that women who are trying to get pregnant take prenatal vitamins as well (1). This recommendation is in place because many of the parts of the fetus, including the neural tube, develop very early on in pregnancy.

How long should I continue to take prenatal vitamins?

Women should take prenatal vitamins for their entire pregnancy. It is also recommended that women continue taking prenatal vitamins after pregnancy if they are breastfeeding (1).

About ABC Law Centers

ABC Law Centers was established to focus exclusively on birth injury cases. A “birth injury” is any type of harm to a baby that occurs just before, during, or after birth. This includes issues such as oxygen deprivation, infection, and trauma. While some children with birth injuries make a complete recovery, others develop disabilities such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

If a birth injury/subsequent disability could have been prevented with proper care, then it constitutes medical malpractice. Settlements from birth injury cases can cover the costs of lifelong treatment, care, and other crucial resources. 

If you believe you may have a birth injury case for your child, please contact us today to learn more. We are happy to talk to you free of any obligation or charge. In fact, clients pay nothing throughout the entire legal process unless we win. 

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  1. Prenatal vitamins: Why they matter, how to choose. (2018, April 13). Retrieved November 17, 2018, from
  2. Folic Acid | CDC. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2018, from
  3. Prenatal Vitamin Ingredients. (2018, October 17). Retrieved November 17, 2018, from
  4. Where to Get Folic Acid Naturally During Pregnancy. (2017, March 21). Retrieved November 17, 2018, from

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