What are prenatal vitamins?

Our experts answer your pregnancy questions.

Just like a daily multivitamin, prenatals provide you with all the daily vitamins and minerals you need in your diet when you’re pregnant. They don’t help you get pregnant. But ideally, you’re taking them before you get pregnant, because they’re important for the baby. 

One thing we want all women of reproductive age to take is folic acid, also known as vitamin B-9. It’s important to help prevent defects in your baby’s brain and spine. You can get it from a prenatal vitamin or from eating certain foods like leafy green vegetables. 

The recommended amount of folic acid in pregnancy without complications is 400 micrograms a day. If you’re high risk, that level jumps up to 4,000 micrograms.  

Though it’s possible to buy a folic acid supplement, you would benefit from taking prenatal vitamins rather than taking it separately. In addition to the right amount of folic acid, prenatal vitamins typically have extra iron to support your baby’s growth and prevent anemia, as well as other nutrients you and the baby need.  

Your certified nurse midwife or doctor may prescribe the vitamins or recommend something you can buy over the counter.  


Jessica Torres, certified nurse midwife

Fairview Center for Women – Edina

To learn more: 

Make an appointment with a midwife or OB doctor or book a tour at The Birthplace.

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