During pregnancy, you will receive a lot of advice from family, friends, and colleagues. One of the pieces of advice you get often is to take prenatal vitamins.
The reality is that consuming prenatal vitamins will help both you and your unborn baby get off to a good start. But do prenatals make you gain weight? Are there any risks associated with taking them?
Through this article, we will help you answer those questions and more. So, without wasting much time, let’s get into the details!
Do Prenatal Vitamins Cause Weight Gain?
There is no evidence that prenatal vitamins can help you gain weight. The fact is that there aren’t any vitamins that can do it.
As we all know, the only way to gain weight is to take in more calories than your body needs. Meanwhile, there aren’t any types of vitamins that contain calories. Besides, it is impossible to break them down for energy or store them as fat.
Minerals and vitamins perform other essential roles in our body. For example, some prevent cell damage caused by toxins while facilitating chemical reactions.
However, most pregnant women gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy. Why is that?
Can You Gain Weight During Pregnancy With Prenatals?
You can gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy, whether you consume vitamins or not. So, this weight gain is due to the pregnancy process.
The amount of weight you can gain may also be lower or higher, depending on your BMI (body mass index) before pregnancy. This extra weight will come from your unborn baby, placenta, amniotic fluid, excess body fluids, and more.
Here is a breakdown of how you can gain 35 lbs (16 kg) during pregnancy:
- Your Baby: 8 lbs (3.5 kg)
- Placenta: From 2 to 3 lbs (from 1 to 1.5 kg)
- Amniotic fluid: From 2 to 3 lbs (from 1 to 1.5 kg)
- Uterus growth: From 2 to 5 lbs (from 1 to 2.5 kg)
- Breast tissue: From 2 to 3 lbs (from 1 to 1.5 kg)
- Fat stores: From 5 to 9 lbs (from 2.5 to 4 kg)
- Blood supply: Around 4 lbs (2 kg)
However, many studies show that prenatal pills can indirectly improve weight gain for pregnant women.
For example, B vitamins can aid in energy and protein metabolism, allowing the fetus to absorb other nutrients more efficiently.
On the other hand, vitamins C and E reduce oxidation and improve the immune system of pregnant women, leading to improved fetal development.
These factors will help the fetus develop more, leading to weight gain during pregnancy. If you experience sudden weight gain at any point during your pregnancy, it is essential to see your doctor as soon as possible.
If it is combined with visual changes, right upper abdominal pain, or a severe and persistent headache, it could signify preeclampsia.
This condition is nothing to worry about, but it can have severe effects on you and your unborn babies, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, seizures, maternal death, and more.
Can You Gain Weight With Prenatal Vitamins When Not Pregnant?
Currently, no evidence or research shows that you can gain weight while not pregnant by taking prenatal vitamins.
Many people take prenatal pills before getting pregnant to ensure their mineral and vitamin intake is enough to support them when they’re pregnant.
If you feel any signs of weight gain while taking prenatal pills, it is best to consult a specialist or doctor. The cause could be simply bloating or constipation, but it could also be that you are showing early signs of pregnancy.
Tips to Maintain a Healthy Weight While Taking Prenatals
Whether you’re pregnant or not, it’s essential to maintain a healthy weight. That way, you can limit and avoid illnesses and complications that can affect your and your baby’s health.
Some pregnant women are overweight, while others gain weight too quickly during pregnancy. So anyway, you shouldn’t diet or attempt to lose weight while you are pregnant.
Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy weight while taking prenatal vitamins:
1. Track What You Eat (Calories)
Tracking the calories taken from the foods you consume is one of the best solutions to maintaining a healthy weight.
It is best to use calorie calculator apps that are available online. They will allow you to track your daily calories a lot quicker and easier.
2. Cooking At Home
There are many good reasons to cook at home instead of eating out.
Through cooking at home, you can easily control the calories for each meal. In addition, you will also have meals that are more hygienic and food safe. Here are the things you should do:
- First, prepare your meals by using low-fat cooking methods.
- Avoid consuming fried foods. The reason is that frying your foods in butter or oil will increase the calories and fat of your meal.
- Broiling, grilling, broiling, or baking are healthier and lower-fat cooking methods.
3. Healthy Food
You should make snacks from fresh vegetables and fruits. These ingredients are full of vitamins. Moreover, they are low in fat and calories.
You can also consume crackers, cereals, and bread made with whole grains.
Pick reduced-fat dairy products. You’ll need at least four servings of milk products daily. Yet, utilizing skim, 1%, or 2% milk will significantly reduce the calories and fat you take in.
Furthermore, selecting fat-free or low-fat cheese or yogurt is wise.
Foods That You Should Avoid
You should choose naturally sweetened instead of drinks and foods with added artificial sweeteners or sugar. Remember that food or drinks that contain corn syrup or sugar are one of the first picks that are not good.
It is best to avoid consuming junk-food snacks, like candy, cake, chips, cookies, ice cream, and more. The best method to keep you from eating these unhealthy foods is not to have them in your house.
Reduce fat in margarine, butter, cooking oils, gravy, regular salad dressings, mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, sauces, and lard. You should use the lower-fat versions of them instead.
Finally, avoid sweetened drinks that are high in calories. To do it, you should read the label before consuming any beverage. Plus, use water instead of fruit drinks and sodas.
3. Don’t “Eating for Two.”
Many people keep to “eating for two” habit during pregnancy. It leads to them eating more than they need. The fact is that consuming twice as much food during pregnancy can endanger the mother’s health.
Even if your calorie needs increase during pregnancy, it will only increase to 340 to 450 calories a day compared to when you were not pregnant. This extra calorie is equivalent to half of a sandwich and a full glass of skim milk.
Exercise allows you to burn excess calories. Therefore, it is not only recommended for non-pregnant women but also pregnant. Here are the things you need to keep in mind:
- Exercise in moderation. You should follow your doctor’s recommendations before beginning an exercise program.
- Swimming and walking are practical and safe exercises for you during pregnancy.
5. Drink More Water
Whether you’re pregnant or not, drinking more water will benefit you.
It allows your body to get rid of toxins more efficiently and keeps your skin in top shape. In addition, it also helps you reduce cravings.
Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins
When you are pregnant, proper nutrition is necessary for the health of you and your unborn baby. Remember that your baby depends on all the nutrition you take in.
When your diet lacks the minerals and vitamins needed for your healthy pregnancy, that’s where prenatal vitamins come into play. Here are some advantages of prenatals:
1. Reduce Nausea
They contain vitamin B6, which has been shown to reduce nausea caused by morning sickness. As a result, women who take prenatal tend to have less nausea during the first trimester than those who don’t.
2. Reduce Risk of Congenital Disabilities
One of the most significant reasons to take prenatal pills is to make sure you’re getting enough folic acid. This acid can significantly reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the fetus.
3. Fertility Boost
Many studies have shown that taking prenatal pills can increase your chances of conceiving a healthy baby.
Is It Bad to Take Prenatal Vitamins When Not Pregnant?
Doctors recommend taking them one to three months before conception for best results. Therefore, you should not overuse them when not pregnant.
Overall, prenatal pills are created with the needs of pregnant and nursing women in mind to make up for common nutritional deficiencies that pregnant women may experience.
They are not intended for women (or men) who do not wish to become pregnant or are breastfeeding.
Excess amounts of nutrients like vitamin A from multivitamins can also be toxic to our liver.
On the other hand, it is best to treat vitamins as a supplement, not a substitute.
It means that prenatal cannot replace a healthy diet. Besides, they don’t replace quality exercise, hydration, mental health best practices, and efforts to lead an overall healthy lifestyle.
When Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
Doctors and health care professionals recommend prenatal vitamins one to three months before conception.
Of course, pregnancy doesn’t always go to plan. Therefore, you should start taking prenatal pills while trying to get pregnant.
Folic acid will prevent congenital disabilities during the first few weeks of pregnancy, even when you know you’re pregnant.
Consuming too much folic acid each day can have the side effect of masking a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Also, consuming too much iron causes health problems like nausea, constipation, and diarrhea.
What Happens If You Don’t Take Prenatal Vitamins While Pregnant
Investing in a high-quality, nutrient-dense diet for pregnant women in the developed world is familiar. Therefore, for these women, this investment in prenatal pills may not be as necessary for women in the rest of the world.
These women need access to the high-quality food they need and the information to educate themselves fully. In addition, they have access to quality medical care to find out specific problems related to personal health.
On the other hand, vitamins are essential for women who live in areas that do not have access to quality food and quality medical care needed for pregnancy.
If these women don’t get screened first, they could be at risk of an unsafe pregnancy, putting their baby at risk for congenital disabilities and some debilitating conditions for life.
So, no matter what region you live in, we recommend prenatal pills for the best results.
When to Stop Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
When you’ve given birth to your baby, and you’re not breastfeeding, or you’ve stopped breastfeeding, it’s possible to stop taking prenatal pills.
Some women choose to continue using that because of nutritional needs. Yet, we recommend not using them if you are not pregnant.
Taking prenatal vitamins can give you too much nutrition because non-pregnant women only need about two-thirds of the iron that a pregnant woman needs. An excess of iron in the body can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and even death.
To Sum it Up
Do prenatal vitamins make you gain weight? No, they do not directly cause weight gain, whether you’re pregnant or not.
However, some studies have shown that you can improve your pregnancy weight when taking prenatal. They are essential for a healthy pregnancy and help your baby grow stronger and healthier.
Taking prenatal will support the health of you and your unborn baby. They even can enhance fertility, increase iron levels and reduce the risk of congenital abnormalities.
By consuming them three months before trying to conceive, you’ll get the right amount of calcium, iron, and folic acid to support your growing baby.
Be aware that their side effects can be bloating, constipation, and other minor side effects for some women. However, these cases are rare.
Thank you for reading!