Many people wonder if they really need a prescription prenatal vitamin as opposed to an over-the counter formula. We strongly believe that a high quality prescription prenatal vitamin is the best choice for a number of reasons.
Prescription prenatal vitamins are able to include more of the key ingredient folic acid (necessary for the prevention of neural tube defects such as spina bifida) than over-the-counter prenatals. The over-the-counter formulas are restricted to 800 micrograms of folic acid per serving, which is less than the universally recommended amount of 1000 micrograms per day for pregnancy. While additional servings of an over-the-counter formula could be consumed to get an optimal amount of folic acid, this is not as convenient and easy to stick to, plus there may be some risk of getting too much of certain nutrients.
We find that most obstetricians prefer to have their patients take prescription prenatal vitamins. This allows them to better monitor the vitamin and mineral intake of their patients, and studies have actually shown that mothers to be are more likely to take their prenatal vitamin as expected with a prescription version than with an over-the-counter product.
Also, prescription prenatals are subject to greater FDA oversight than over-the-counter prenatals. Finally, prescription prenatals typically utilize the optimum forms of the ingredients they contain, while this is not always the case for over-the-counter prenatals.