Pregnancy increases your need for various things in your diet. Often you will be asked to take a prenatal vitamin. This is mainly because it is difficult, without careful selection, to get the amount of iron you need from food alone.
When taking a prenatal vitamin, try to get into the habit of taking it at the same time every day. If you can’t remember if you took your vitamin, it is better to skip a day than taking two vitamins in one day.
Most prenatal vitamin instructions recommend taking them on an empty stomach. This is to increase the absorption of iron from the vitamin. If you can do that, great! If you cannot take your vitamin on an empty stomach, it is better to take the vitamin with something to eat, than not take it at all. Remember the old adage: it isn’t nutrition until you eat it. Your vitamin includes a source of Vitamin C, but if you take additional iron, be aware iron absorption can be increased by taking it with a source of Vitamin C, like citrus juice or citrus fruit (example: orange or grapefruit). (1) (2)
If you have difficulty swallowing a vitamin there are chewable or liquid forms of prenatal vitamins. Especially, during periods of nausea and vomiting you might need to do something different when taking your prenatal vitamin. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are having trouble taking your vitamin consistently.
- Position of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics: Nutrition and Lifestyle for a Healthy Pregnancy Outcome, J. Acad Of Nutr & Dietetics, 2014; 114:1100.
- American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology: Nutrition During Pregnancy. April 2015, Available at, http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Nutrition-During-Pregnancy#extra Accessed Sept 26, 2015.