Nutritional Information

December 05, 2008 12:00 AM

Q: Is it OK if I occasionally skip my prenatal vitamin? In my first trimester, I would avoid it if I was feeling particularly nauseous that day. And, honestly, sometimes I just forget. I’ve never been a regular vitamin-taker. Can I get the nutrients in it by changing my diet, instead?

A: Of all the ingredients in prenatal vitamins, just two are essential for the average pregnant woman. The first is folic acid (at least 400 micrograms daily), a B vitamin that ideally should be taken months before conception and continued until the baby’s spinal nerves are encased by the spine, which happens around the ninth week.

The second is iron. The fetus takes a lot of the mother’s iron to make blood, and mom needs to make a lot more red blood cells herself to account for the increased blood circulating in her body.

Women who eat a healthy diet probably get the other necessary vitamins and minerals on their own. That means missing a pill here and there is not a huge problem.

But, if you frequently find yourself too busy to eat a balanced diet, you avoid dairy, or you don’t like vegetables and fruits, you should stick to taking the prenatal vitamin daily, without exception. Sometimes, switching to a children’s chewable vitamin at lunch and dinner can help lessen the nausea from full-dose prenatal vitamins.

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