Best Time of Day To Take Prenatal Vitamins
You may wonder when you should take your daily prenatal vitamins. As you are getting ready to get pregnant or moving through pregnancy, it is essential to be knowledgeable about your prenatal health. Here are some things we can tell you about when to take prenatal vitamins.
When is the best time to take prenatal vitamins?
The simple answer is that it doesn't matter when you take your vitamins. The important thing is to take your prenatal vitamins every day. For the time of day, you can choose a time that works best for your body and your schedule.
High-quality prenatal vitamins that supply a meaningful amount of key prenatal nutrients come in multiple capsules or tablets for each day. In these cases, you can generally spread out your dose over the course of the day - 2 with breakfast, 2 with lunch and 2 with dinner, for example.
That said, some vitamins within the prenatal vitamin may give you more benefits if you take them at certain times. For example, taking certain vitamins before or after a meal may give you better absorption.
Let’s discuss when it is beneficial for you to take certain vitamins and minerals in your prenatal vitamins.
When is the best time to take Calcium?
Calcium is an important nutrient for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. What does calcium do for your growing baby?
Calcium is responsible for supporting the growth and development of your baby’s bones and teeth. Evidence suggests that ensuring your body has enough Calcium for you and your baby can also support a healthy pregnancy, and help you maintain your own teeth and bones.
Calcium in prenatal vitamins can be in several different forms:
- Calcium Carbonate. Calcium Carbonate is the carbonic salt of calcium.
- Calcium Citrate. Calcium Citrate is a mineral found in many foods and may be used to maintain proper amounts of calcium in your body.
- Calcium Malate. Calcium Malate is one form of calcium that is bound to malic acid to make it easier to absorb for the body.
For your body to absorb calcium and use it, it is best to take it with meals. Additionally, ensuring you have a healthy level of Vitamin D will also support calcium absorption. The body needs Vitamin D to absorb the calcium and use it for bone mineralization.
Women who took calcium daily during their pregnancy absorbed 57 percent of the intake during the second trimester and 71 percent during the third. This increase in calcium absorption helps supply enough calcium to the developing baby, and is supported by the increase in maternal Vitamin D levels.
Recommended daily amount for pregnant women: 1,300 mg daily for ages 14 to 18 and 1,000 mg daily for ages 19 to 50.
When is the best time to take Vitamin C and Vitamin B12?
Vitamins C and B12 are water-soluble vitamins, meaning you need water for proper absorption. Be sure to take both vitamins with a glass of water. Here’s what you need to know about these vitamins:
This vitamin is essential during pregnancy because it supports the body’s natural production of collagen, which helps develop your baby’s connective tissues. Generally, Vitamin C is taken on an empty stomach for better absorption, although this isn't possible when it’s a part of a multi-ingredient prenatal vitamin blend.
Recommended daily amount for pregnant women: 80 mg daily for ages 14 to 18 and 85 mg daily for ages 19 to 50.
Vitamin B12 is another essential vitamin for the healthy development of a baby, as it supports the production of DNA and red blood cells. B12 may be best when taken in the morning because it supports your energy metabolism. Unlike Vitamin C, B12 can be taken with a meal.
Recommended daily amount for pregnant women: 2.6 mcg daily.
When is the best time to take iron?
Iron is a mineral that supports the development of the fetus and placenta through increased supply of blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby.
This mineral supports the growth and development of your baby and helps you thrive during pregnancy, so you want to be sure you are getting enough each day. Taking iron on an empty stomach and with water or juice is best.
Calcium can interfere with absorption of iron. If you are concerned about low Iron levels, it’s best to avoid taking Iron supplements with Calcium supplements, and stick to water - rather than Calcium-fortified juice or milk - when you take your Iron supplements.
Recommended daily amount for pregnant women: 27 mg daily.
When is the best time to take Choline?
Choline is another essential nutrient in a prenatal vitamin. Choline helps your body with metabolism. For babies, Choline plays a role in early brain development. Taken as a part of a healthy diet, Choline has been suggested to prevent neural tube defects in babies, much like Folate.
It doesn't matter what time of day you take Choline or what you take it with.
Recommended daily amount for pregnant women: 450 mg daily while pregnant and 550 mg daily when lactating.
When is the best time to take Iodine?
Iodine can also be found in prenatal vitamins and is essential for the development of the skeletal and nervous systems in fetuses and infants. A building block of thyroid hormones, iodine has also been suggested as key in reproductive processes before you get pregnant.
The downside is that Iodine can upset your stomach. If this happens to you, take it with a meal; otherwise, you generally can take it at any point in the day.
Recommended daily amount for pregnant women: 220 mcg daily while pregnant and 290 mcg daily while lactating.
When is the best time to take Vitamin D and other fat-soluble vitamins?
Fat-soluble is a term used to describe vitamins absorbed and transported with fats from the food we eat. To help your body absorb them, it’s best to take fat-soluble vitamins after eating foods with good fats and plenty of water. Fat-soluble vitamins include:
- Vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for ocular (eye) health, maintaining the fetal immune system, and supporting the proper growth of organs.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D supports the absorption of calcium. Additionally, vitamin D supports the proper development of bones and healthy cell division and plays a role in a baby’s immune health.
- Vitamin E. This essential vitamin supports the overall healthy growth and development of a baby.
- Vitamin K. Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that help to support the body’s natural processes of blood clotting, bone metabolism, and coronary elasticity. Vitamin K works with Vitamin D to support bone health.
Recommended daily amounts for pregnant women:
- Vitamin A. 750 mcg daily for ages 14 to 18 and 770mcg daily for ages 19 to 50
- Vitamin D. 600 IU daily
- Vitamin E. 15 mg daily for ages 14 and above (19 mg during lactation)
- Vitamin K. 90 mcg daily for ages 19 and above
When is the best time to take Folic Acid?
You should start taking Folic Acid (or better, Folate, its natural form) as soon as you decide you want to conceive. Taking Folate before you get pregnant helps you prepare for the early development of your baby’s neural tube, which ultimately becomes the brain and spine.
It doesn’t matter what time of day you take Folic Acid or Folate. Folic acid can be taken with or without food, but be sure to drink plenty of water and take it daily.
Recommended daily amounts for pregnant women: 600 mcg daily or more
Does timing actually matter when taking prenatal vitamins?
As we have seen, some vitamins work best when taken with certain foods or at certain times of the day. Since prenatal vitamins have a large variety of vitamins and minerals, however, it’s not practical to try to take individual vitamins and minerals at different times of day.
Whether you prefer to take it as soon as you wake up, with lunch, or before bed, your body will still work to absorb and utilize the vitamins. The most important thing is to remember to take them daily.
Your day-to-day routine can be busy, so just make sure you take the steps necessary to care for your and your baby’s health. It may also be a good idea to set a reminder so you don’t forget!
Tip: Prenatal vitamins can sometimes be hard to keep down, especially in the first trimester when many women experience the most nausea. If this is the case for you, try eating something before you take your vitamins and drink plenty of water. Eating first will allow you to hold the nutrients in long enough for them to be absorbed and utilized.
Factors that do matter when taking prenatal vitamins
- Take prenatal vitamins daily. Consistency is key.
- Start as soon as you know you want to get pregnant. Most experts recommend that you start three months before conception.
- Find the right prenatal vitamin for your specific needs.
- Be sure to take prenatal vitamins with at least 600 mg Folate or Folic Acid.
- Select the prenatal vitamins with methylfolate, if you know you have a MTHFR gene mutation that makes it hard for the body to convert Folic Acid to Folate.
- Be sure your prenatal vitamins deliver enough Choline to support your baby’s brain development. That's at least 450 mg/day during pregnancy and 550 mg/day when nursing.
- Loop in your physician on all medications and supplements you are taking when pregnant or when you are planning for a pregnancy.
Although starting prenatal vitamins two to three months before getting pregnant is smart, it doesn’t matter what time of day you take the vitamins. You may want to choose a consistent time, so you remember to take them each day, but otherwise, don’t worry too much about the timing.
You can try taking them in the morning before breakfast, and if that works for you, just stick with it. If it doesn’t, try taking your vitamins on your lunch break or add them to your bedtime routine.
As long as you take it each day, each dose will help support the growth and development of your baby and keep you healthy. Please reach out if we can answer any questions about how to take your prenatal vitamins. We are with you.
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