Taking Prenatal Vitamins While Trying to Conceive: Do They Help?
Prenatal vitamins are a must for any pregnancy. But did you know that they can support your TTC (trying to conceive) journey, too?
In this article, we’ll shed light on how prenatal vitamins are related to getting pregnant, why you should start taking them long before you get pregnant, and how the key ingredients work to support fertility and pregnancy. We’ll also cover some of your most frequently asked questions about the practicalities of taking prenatal vitamins.
Prenatal vitamins and fertility: what’s the connection?
Before we dive deeper into the connection between prenatal vitamins and fertility, it’s important to clarify that there is currently no specific research study that has found a direct link between taking prenatal vitamins and improved chances of getting pregnant.
However, research does suggest that inadequate levels of certain micronutrients may negatively impact your ability to conceive. This is because several micronutrients (such as folate, zinc, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12) are directly involved in key processes related to fertility. This includes processes like egg development, menstruation, ovulation, implantation, and early embryo development (embryogenesis).
There is also evidence that suggests those who struggle to become pregnant may often have lower than average levels of key micronutrients, such as vitamins B12, B6, and D. This is true for those who are trying to conceive naturally and those who are undergoing fertility treatments such as IVF.
In an ideal world, we would be able to get all of the micronutrients that we need from our diet alone. However, this isn’t always realistic or practical in every situation – and prenatal supplements can help.
In short, while prenatal vitamins may not guarantee a pregnancy, they can help to fill in any gaps in your diet in order to improve your overall health and fertility.
Why take prenatal vitamins before pregnancy?
The benefits of taking prenatal vitamins to support pregnancy are well-established by clinical research. For example, they help to:
- Prevent neural tube defects
- Reduce the overall risk of birth defects
- Support the development of the placenta and fetus
- Reduce the mother’s risk of anemia, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes
- Protect and strengthen the mother’s bones
But why do doctors recommend taking them before pregnancy even begins?
To put it simply, prenatal vitamins must be taken ahead of time to ensure that micronutrient levels are high enough starting from day one of pregnancy.
This is important because several key processes begin to take place the moment implantation begins. This includes neural tube development, placental development, and early circulatory, nervous, digestive, and urinary system development. It is also important to note that the risk of birth defects is highest during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (i.e. the first trimester), and it is absolutely paramount that the body has enough nutrients to support the pregnancy during this critical period.
If you are actively looking to plan a pregnancy, many doctors recommend taking a prenatal vitamin for at least 3 months before TTC (trying to conceive). If you are not actively TTC but could still become pregnant, it’s a good idea to start taking prenatal vitamins anyway to protect yourself and your baby in the event of an unplanned pregnancy.
Nutrients in prenatal vitamins that support conception
Vitamin C is a key player in helping your body produce collagen, which supports follicular development and ovulation. Vitamin C also helps to boost immunity while also improving the body’s ability to absorb iron – which may play a role in reducing the risk of ovulatory infertility.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Vitamin B2 (i.e. riboflavin) is another key nutrient relevant to fertility. It not only helps your body metabolize fats, protein, and carbs into energy, but it also serves as an antioxidant to boost overall health.
Vitamin D3 is involved in every single biological process – including processes related to fertility. It also helps your body absorb calcium and phosphate to promote bone health.
Vitamin B6 helps the body produce hormones necessary for strengthening the uterine lining. It also helps to increase progesterone levels, which helps to prepare the uterine lining for implantation. Vitamin B6 also plays an important role in the cognitive development of the baby.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) helps to improve your capacity for converting carbohydrates into energy. It also helps to support the brain development of a growing baby.
Vitamin B12 helps the body develop and release eggs for ovulation. It also supports the implantation process.
Vitamin K1 ensures blood clotting, which is essential for helping the body heal during pregnancy and labor. It also promotes bone health for the mother and baby.
Folic acid helps to boost fertility by improving your chances of ovulation. It also helps to significantly reduce the risk of birth defects during the first month of pregnancy.
Vitamin E supports your overall immune system. It also helps the body create and maintain healthy skin, red blood cells, and blood vessels.
Tips for taking prenatal vitamins for conception
It’s never too early to start taking prenatal vitamins
If you are an individual of reproductive age and there is even the slightest chance that you could become pregnant, it is never too early to start taking a prenatal vitamin on a regular basis. There is no harm in starting prenatal vitamins (unless your doctor advises otherwise based on your medical history), you do not need a prescription, and the benefits outweigh the risks – especially in cases of unplanned pregnancies.
Always take with food
Prenatal vitamins may cause an upset stomach. To keep your stomach settled, it is recommended to take a prenatal vitamin each day with either a meal or a snack. The timing of when you take your prenatal vitamin does not matter – you can take it around breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It may be helpful to take it around the same time each day so that you don’t forget to take it.
Be aware of the potential side effects
In addition to an upset stomach, other potential side effects of prenatal vitamins include loss of appetite, nausea, bloating, and constipation. The best way to manage these side effects is to listen to your body and stay aware of how the vitamin makes you feel. You can then make adjustments to your routine if necessary in order to reduce the impact of the side effects.
Prenatal vitamins cannot replace an unhealthy diet
Prenatal vitamins are not designed to replace or make up for an unhealthy diet. They can, however, help to fill in the gaps and provide your body with a boost of nutrients to optimize health and fertility. In addition to taking a prenatal vitamin, it is also recommended to follow a healthy pre-pregnancy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean proteins.
Speak with your doctor
If you are unsure about what type or brand of prenatal vitamin to take, it’s always a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor or healthcare provider. They can provide you with the best advice for your specific situation and medical history.
Try Mira Prenatal
We are super excited to say that we have just launched a new line of prenatal multi-vitamins. Mira Prenatal is designed by our in-house professionals to boost conception, promote reproductive wellness, and support your body through the pre to post-natal journey.