Prenatal pills or vitamin drinks during pregnancy?

Doctors recommend pregnant women take prenatal vitamins rather Doctors recommend pregnant women take prenatal vitamins rather than vitamin drinks. Photo Credit: iStock

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Q. I've seen marketing recently for a beverage targeting pregnant women that says it contains folic acid and other prenatal vitamins expectant moms need. What do obstetricians think?

A. Expectant moms should be vigilant in examining exactly which vitamins -- and what dosage -- are included in vitamin water being advertised to moms-to-be, says Dr. Elisa Felsen-Singer, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the Huntington Medical Group. Such products shouldn't be used as a substitute for a prenatal vitamin pill for the average pregnant woman because they may not contain as many vitamins, nor the advised dosages, she says. "If you can take the vitamin, why not take the vitamin?" she says.

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For instance, while prescription prenatal vitamins frequently contain one milligram of folic acid, one such vitamin water product contains 400 micrograms. The product label says it provides 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of folic acid, but pregnant women should get more than 400 micrograms daily, Felsen-Singer says. That's especially important in the first trimester, when a baby's spine and other organs are forming, she says. And if a woman is taking the prenatal vitamin pill daily, there's no need to supplement it with vitamin water, she says.

Felsen-Singer says such products are best for women who absolutely can't tolerate taking the prenatal pills because they make them nauseated. "You're better off getting something than nothing," Felsen-Singer says. As always, check with your doctor before using.

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