Dr. Kim Goodwin, an OBGYN affiliated with Sharp HealthCare, discusses prenatal vitamins.
So let’s talk a little bit about prenatal vitamins. It’s important for a woman to start taking the prenatal vitamins before she gets pregnant — I usually recommend about a month before they go off any kind of birth control so there’s an overlap.
The most important component of the prenatal vitamin is the folic acid. It helps prevent neural tube defects. What you want to look for on the back is make sure it has at least 800 micrograms of folic acid, and then that’s a good prenatal vitamin. The prenatal vitamins that you buy in the store that label themselves “prenatal vitamins” have a lot of extra stuff that’s probably unnecessary. The most important part is the folic acid.
Once you’re pregnant it’s important to add something called DHA, or omega-3 fatty acids. And a lot of prenatal vitamins have it, but a lot of them don’t. So you have to read the label and make sure it has it. Or buy it separately and start taking it as soon as you’re pregnant. And in that one you should stay on it while you’re breastfeeding, too. The folic acid is really better before you’re pregnant and the first trimester.