Can You Take Prenatal Vitamins On An Empty Stomach?

If you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant, you've no doubt heard about the power of prenatal vitamins. These multivitamins are critical for ensuring you (and your baby) get all the necessary nutrients, but instructions on when and how to take them may be just plain confusing.

Women of reproductive age who plan to become pregnant may even want to begin taking a prenatal vitamin before they conceive, according to the Mayo Clinic. This is because in the first month of pregnancy — often before you know you're pregnant — the baby's neural tube develops, which goes on to become the brain and spinal cord. Just like a regular multivitamin, a prenatal vitamin gives you the essential minerals and vitamins that you might not be getting from a balanced diet, in addition to the nutrients that a developing baby needs.

Particularly, you need more folic acid than usual, which helps prevent defects of the neural tube. It's also recommended to look for a prenatal vitamin that has more iron, which helps your body produce the blood that supplies the placenta with oxygen. A prenatal vitamin should also have calcium and vitamin D, which are necessary for the development of healthy teeth and bones.

The best time to take a prenatal vitamin

It's always best to check with your doctor about your prenatal needs because guidance on when and how to take vitamins can be confusing. Often, a multivitamin (like a prenatal) can be hard on the digestive system, especially if you take it on an empty stomach (via Healthline).

Taking a vitamin on an empty or full stomach depends on the type of solubility, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Water-soluble vitamins, like vitamins C and B12, need nothing more than water to be absorbed, so it's better to take these on an empty stomach. Fat-soluble vitamins on the other hand, like vitamins D and A, need fat for your body to absorb them, meaning you need to take them with food that contains some fat.

Since a prenatal vitamin contains both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins, it can be tricky to time it right for maximum absorption. While some sources claim they're best taken on an empty stomach, it's generally recommended to take them with a meal and a full glass of water (via Livestrong).