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Prenatal vitamins

Contributor: 

What you need to know:
Vitamins and minerals help your body use the energy provided by foods for both yourself and your baby. They also help repair and maintain cells and tissues.

You can get most of the vitamins and minerals you need from a healthy diet. Because it may be hard to get enough iron, folic acid and calcium from food, many women take a prenatal vitamin every day.

What you can do:
Take your prenatal vitamin every day. Take vitamins as directed. Read the label and talk to your health care provider.

Do not take additional vitamins and minerals unless your health care provider says that you should. Large amounts of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A, can be harmful. Do not take more thatn 5,000 IU (international units) of vitamin A a day.

Choose a diet that includes a variety of healthy, nutritious foods. What are some good choices? Fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and pastas, milk products, and low-fat protein sources such as lean red meat, beans, tofu, poultry and some fish. (See Food safety for a list of fish that are off-limits for pregnant women.)

If you have trouble digesting lactose (the natural sugar found in milk), lactose-reduced milk products and calcium-fortified orange juice can help you get enough calcium.