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How Safe Are Prenatal Vitamins?

Generally, prenatal vitamins are very safe. Many of the vitamins in them, including vitamin C and the B vitamins, are water soluble, which means your body will flush out any extra you consume. Where you do need to watch that the vitamin doesn't exceed the recommended daily allowance for pregnant women is with the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K. Because your body does store these vitamins, it is possible to get more than you need.

Too much of a good thing is never a smart idea. Don't pop handfuls of vitamins and supplements and then eat nutritional bars, because you could overdose on certain nutrients. Let your doctor know about all of the vitamins and supplements you're taking so that he or she can help you keep track of them.

Prenatal vitamins can cause some minor side effects like constipation and nausea, which can already be issues during pregnancy. "If your nausea is worse in the morning when you get up, don't take it when you get up. Take it before bed or with food," Pitkin advises. You can also try a liquid or chewable prenatal vitamin if it's easier for you to take. If constipation is a problem, add fiber to your diet by eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Why Prenatal Vitamins Aren't Enough

Just because you're popping a prenatal vitamin every morning, don't think your diet is off the hook. Prenatal vitamins are no substitute for three healthy meals. They don't contain the protein, calories, or all of the nutrients you and your baby need during this time.

"Even the best prenatal vitamins don't have every single nutrient found in food," Swinney says. "There are hundreds of antioxidants found in food that aren't in vitamins. Also, prenatal vitamins don't contain much calcium, so calcium-rich foods like milk and yogurt are a must." Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, dairy, and protein to ensure you're getting everything you and your baby need, and then you can think of your prenatal supplement as an added nutrient bonus.

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