Prenatal Vitamins

I thought I’d look a little more into the ingredients in prenatal vitamins–and what their purposes are, either toward pregnancy or health in general. I just switched the kind I was taking because they didn’t have Iodine or Choline (two things that one of the pregnancy books I’m reading says you should be taking).

The book: Before Your Pregnancy by by Amy Ogle, MS, RD, and Lisa Mazzullo, MD

My prenatal brand: Rainbow Light Prenatal One

Ingredients & purposes

Folic Acid — This one’s a pregnancy biggie! I knew about it even before reading any books. Folate is absolutely necessary to decode and synthesize the DNA and make new cells. Pregnancy = rapid growth of the fetus and placenta & the development of maternal tissues = higher demands for folate. Also regulates blood clotting & placenta development.

Choline (as Bitartrate) — Recommended: less than or equal to 100% RDA or DV (425 mg preconception, 450 mg during pregnancy, 550 mg during breastfeeding); Taking: 10 mg–Whoops! Need to order a choline supplement!
Choline plays a similar role to Folate. It boosts the health of cell membranes and is needed to make the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain. Critical for developing fetal brain structures and healthy memory for mom and baby.

Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) — Vitamin C forms collagen which is important for healthy bones, teeth, skin, ligaments, and cartilage. It keeps the immune system strong and helps heal wounds. It also helps with iron absorption and contains antioxidant properties that seem to block unstable molecules from causing damage and disease in the body. Vitamin C is important for male’s fertility, as it protects the male sperm cells.

Vitamin B-6 — Amino acid & protein metabolism. Promotes a healthier nervous system, immune system, red blood cells, and cardiovascular system. May help with PMS. Definitely diminishes severity of morning sickness.

Vitamin B-12 (as Cyanocobalamin) — Also needed for DNA synthesis and normal red blood cell formation. Assists in cardiovascular and nervous system health. A balanced combination of B-12 and Folate may synergistically (in a cooperative manner) reduce the risk of NTDs (Neural Tube Defects).

Vitamin B-1 (as Thiamin Mononitrate) — Helps convert carbs into energy and is important for proper function of the nervous system.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2) — Assists the body in using energy from all types of foods, is essential for growth.

Niacin — B vitamin that helps cells produce and use energy from food. Is essential to maintain the health of the nervous system, skin, and digestive track.

Biotin — Metabolizes fats, protein, and carbohydrates. It may have important functions in DNA replication and gene expression.

Vitamin A (as Palmitate, Beta-carotene) — Vitamin A helps vision and it also builds/maintains the health of bond, skin, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. Indirectly, it contributes towards warding against infection via keeping the health of internal barriers to disease-carrying organisms. Warning: Too much vitamin A is potentially disruptive to fetal development. Make sure to double-check recommended dosage against how much is consumed.

Vitamin D (as D2 Ergocalciferol) — Vitamin D is both a vitamin and a hormone. It makes strong bones and teeth for both mother and baby, and helps the immune system & the genes that repair damaged cells. Vitamin D plays a vital role in the formation of a healthy egg and insulin sensitivity.

Vitamin E (s d-alpha Tocopheryl Succinate) — Vitamin E has antioxidant properties. It works with other antioxidants to protect cell membranes from damage inside the body. High doses of vitamin E can be detrimental to health. Connections are still being researched regarding the role of vitamin E in strengthening the immune system and placental connection between mom and baby, cutting the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and slowing the start of Alzheimer’s and other age-related macular degeneration.

Vitamin K (as Phytonadione) — helps with normal blood clotting & aids proteins that put calcium into bone.

Calcium (as Carbonate, Citrate-Malate) — Keeps bones and teeth strong. Aids in muscle contraction, blood pressure regulation, and immunity. Lead exposure danger is lessened in people who have healthy levels of calcium in their bodies. Leg muscle cramps are sometimes related to low calcium intake. May reduce PMS symptoms. Demand for calcium goes up during pregnancy and breastfeeding because the baby can drain most of the calcium it needs from the maternal stores, to the detriment of the mom’s bones.

Iron (as Amino Acid Chelate) — Assists the oxygen-carrying compounds hemoglobin (in red blood cells) and myoglobin (in muscles). Also plays a role in the immune system. Helps protect the body from lead poisoning. Necessary prior to conception to cope with the 45% increase in maternal blood volume during pregnancy.

Iodine (from Kelp) — Recommended: Thyroid hormones require iodine to help regulate the rate at which the body expends energy. Low iodine intake causes lowered activity of the thyroid gland and severe deficiency during pregnancy can lead to mental retardation, dwarfism, and thyroid problems in offspring. 

I need to ask my doctor about this because according to the book:

Experts caution that even though sea vegetable kelp is a natural source of iodine, it is too high a source of iodine and should not be routinely consumed, especially before and after conception.

Magnesium (as Oxide) — Activates hundreds of enzymes. Necessary for making energy and proteins. Assists muscle and nerve function & is a component of bones. May lessen PMS symptoms including headache, mood, and fluid retention.

Zinc (as Citrate) — Essential to the metabolic processes that occur inside the body. Gene expression, growth, immune system function, tissue health, sense of taste, appetite.

Selenium (as Selenomethionine) — Required by a series of enzymes with important antioxidant functions. Recycle vitamin C & work together with vitamin E to prevent and reverse oxidative damage in cells.

Copper (as Amino Acid Chelate) — Necessary part of many enzymes, connective tissue, and the protective sheath around nerves. Important for the proper utilization of iron. Too much zinc or vitamin C can interfere with copper utilization.

Potassium (as Citrate) — An electrolyte that helps regulate the balance of fluids and the acid/base equilibrium in the body. Helps with muscle contraction, including the heart, and nerve impulse transmission and blood pressure.

Information for each nutrient was found in Before Your Pregnancy by Amy Ogle, MS, RD, and Lisa Mazzullo, MD.

These descriptions are summations of what I read. Not complete or anything, and really just for my own personal use. If you stumbled upon this post from a web search, please make sure to do your own research/talk to your doctor. 


2 thoughts on “Prenatal Vitamins

  1. Liz

    Another thing you may want to look into is vitamin overdose. A lot of people take all of these supplements but already get enough of them in their regular diets… Food for thought 🙂

  2. sara

    I'll definitely ask my doctor about that. But I'm not too worried about vitamin overdose. I'm only taking one pill–a prenatal vitamin, which most women our ages are advised to take. I just wanted to break it down and learn about what each nutrient in my prenatal provides, health-wise. 🙂


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