When Should You Start Taking a Prenatal Vitamin?

When is the best time to start taking a prenatal vitamin?

Prenatal vitamins are specially formulated supplements designed to support a healthy pregnancy. These vitamins can help fill in any gaps in your diet and ensure that you and your baby get all the essential nutrients to help support fetal growth and reduce the risk of major birth defects. Understanding why and when you should start taking prenatal vitamins helps ensure a robust foundation for maternal health and your baby’s future.

When is the best time to start taking a prenatal vitamin?

Before Conception

The best time to start taking your prenatal vitamins is at least three months before trying to conceive. This timing ensures that your body is well-stocked with critical vitamins and minerals from the very beginning of pregnancy, especially folate, which is crucial for preventing neural tube defects in the fetus. * The neural tube forms the early brain and spine, and these defects can occur within the first 4 weeks after conception, often before you know you're pregnant. Studies have also shown that taking prenatal multivitamins at least 3 months before conception experience less nausea in the first trimester of pregnancy.

First Trimester

If you haven't started prenatal vitamins before conception, it's essential to begin as soon as you find out you're pregnant. The first trimester is a critical period for the baby's development, and your body needs extra nutrients to support this growth. 

Throughout Entire Pregnancy

Continuing to take prenatal vitamins is essential for supporting your health and your baby's development. During the second and third trimesters, the baby's bones, muscles, brain, and organs are growing rapidly, requiring additional calcium, iron, and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), among other nutrients. Prenatal vitamins typically contain higher levels of these substances compared to regular multivitamins to support fetal growth and maternal health.

Postpartum and Breastfeeding Period

It's also beneficial to continue taking them after the baby is born, especially if you're breastfeeding. Your body needs extra nutrients to recover from childbirth and to produce nutritious breast milk. Taking prenatal vitamins during the postpartum period can help replenish your body's vitamin and mineral stores, benefiting both your health and your baby's development.*


Side note: Some may recommend switching to postnatal vitamins, but are they really necessary? Please read this before buying, and you'll thank us later. 😉

How to pick a prenatal vitamin that's right for you?

Finding a high-quality prenatal vitamin is crucial, as not all prenatal supplements are created equal. To find the best one for you, focus on those that contain key nutrients essential for your baby's development and your health during pregnancy. An excellent prenatal multivitamin should include:


Folate, a natural form of vitamin B9, is essential for fetal development, particularly for the formation of the neural tube, which later develops into the baby's brain and spinal cord. It's one of the first things you should look for on the back of a prenatal vitamin label because of its importance in preventing birth defects like spina bifida. You should get at least 600 micrograms of folate daily. *

Related blog: Methylfolate vs Folic acid: Which is better?


Your body's need for calcium increases during pregnancy, as it is crucial for the developing baby's bones and teeth. ACOG recommends 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily for pregnant individuals. This ensures that your body has plenty of calcium to support bone health and your baby's development. It's a common concern that not getting enough calcium during pregnancy can lead to a loss of bone density in the mother, making calcium a key nutrient in prenatal supplements.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A helps with your baby's skin, lungs, and eye development. It also prevents you from developing anemia and night blindness. You need about 800 micrograms of retinol activity equivalents (RAE) of vitamin A per day.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays a significant role in developing healthy teeth, bones, and gums in the fetus. It also aids in the absorption of iron, another crucial nutrient during pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends 85 milligrams of vitamin C daily, which can come from either diet or prenatal vitamins. This antioxidant is found in citrus fruits, broccoli, strawberries, and tomatoes, among other food sources.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for bone development and skin and eye health in the developing baby. It's recommended that pregnant individuals get at least 600 international units of vitamin D every day. Vitamin D3 is the preferred form for its enhanced absorbability. This prenatal nutrient is especially important for those living in areas with limited sunlight exposure, as vitamin D is also synthesized through skin exposure to sunlight.


Iron helps your body maintain oxygen-carrying blood cells, which helps to prevent anemia. As you may expect, your body will require much more blood cells than usual with a baby on board. Prenatal multivitamins may give you the sufficient dose of iron that your body needs throughout pregnancy. *

Taking iron supplements typically leads to stomach upset and constipation, so choosing the right form of iron is essential. We have formulated Root'd with this in mind, so we've used Ferrous Bisglycinate Chelate, the most gentle form of iron, to help you stay on track with your prenatal care routine without the common side effects of iron supplementation.


DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is vital for the baby's brain development. Pregnant women are encouraged to get DHA from dietary sources, such as fish, but choosing fish that are low in mercury is important. Adequate intake of DHA also helps reduce the risks associated with preterm birth and low birth weight.


While some prenatal brands include omega-3 DHA in their formulation, it's often in lower doses than what is needed to support fetal growth and visual development.* So, we highly recommend taking DHA as a stand-alone supplement to allow for more precise dosing. To dive deeper, you may read another blog our nutrition team put together to discuss the benefits of taking DHA and prenatal vitamins separately.


Choline is vital for the baby's brain and spinal cord development. Experts recommend that pregnant individuals receive 450 milligrams of choline daily from diet or supplementation. This nutrient is found in milk, beef liver, eggs, peanuts, and soy products, but supplementation is often necessary to meet the recommended daily intake.

Side note: While some prenatal supplements contain only a few amounts of choline, it is one nutrient our nutritionists also recommend taking separately* (45mg included in Root'd for this reason. If you're not able to take it separately, some is certainly better than none.*

Remember, the amount of prenatal vitamins you should take depends on the brand and formulation of the supplement, as well as your individual needs and preferences. You should always follow the label's directions or consult your healthcare provider for advice.

You may also check out this blog to learn 4 more helpful tips for choosing the best multivitamins for you and your baby.

Ready to partner with us in your pregnancy journey? Try Root'd today and give yourself and your baby the nutrient support you both deserve! Use code HEALTHBABY for 15% off + free shipping on your first order. Shop now!

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