What to Look for in Your Prenatal Vitamin (and Why You Should Take One)!
We often get questions about prenatal vitamins: What should I be looking for? Is it ok to just use Target or Costco prenatals? I have a healthy diet - so why can’t I just get nutrients from my food?
Here are a few things to consider when selecting a prenatal vitamin:
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding require large amounts of nutrients to form and develop a new life and produce milk. The placenta is designed to give baby all the nutrients it needs by stealing from mom’s nutrient store if necessary, which is why it is important to build and replenish micronutrients prior to, during, and after pregnancy. Furthermore, given this extra demand, a basic (non-prenatal) multivitamin will not contain sufficient quantities of many of the key components needed by your body and baby during this time.
- Our foods and soil do not contain the same levels of micronutrients that they used to, and the pace at which we currently live leads to high stress and increased cortisol levels. All of these combined, leave most of us nutrient-deficient, which can easily affect fertility and pregnancy. (Vegetarians, vegans, and high-intensity athletes are at even higher risk for this depletion).
- Not all vitamins are created equally, and the supplement industry is not regulated as pharmaceuticals are. This makes the purchase of a high-quality brand (i.e. tested and verified by a 3rd party) incredibly important. You'll want to ensure you are getting good forms of what the bottle says you are getting; unfortunately, most mainstream/big box store vitamins are made with synthetic forms of vitamins that are very difficult for our bodies to fully process. In addition, many popular brands of prenatal vitamins have several added ingredients such as binders, coatings, colors, emulsifiers, fillers, preservatives, sweeteners, artificial colors, and potential allergens such as soy, gluten, or dairy.
- Look for a brand that contains folate (5- methyltetrahydrofolate) versus folic acid, especially if you know have a known MTHFR mutation or other issues with methylation. While most women know they should be taking this important B vitamin in preparation for and during pregnancy, they often don’t know the difference between the two. Many women have trouble converting folic acid (the synthetic form) into the usable form of folate in the body which makes it ineffective in preventing neural tube defects in baby and some studies show that increased circulating folic acid in the body may increase the risk of certain types of cancers.
- Can I just take my regular multivitamin? Why do I need a prenatal? The biggest difference between a multivitamin and a prenatal is the dosage of folate (or folic acid- which again we want to avoid;) and iron. It is recommended to increase folate intake to 800-1000mcg in preparation for and during pregnancy and to bump up your iron daily when pregnant. If you prefer to continue your regular multivitamin, you can always add these nutrients in separately! Ask us for more details on our top picks!
We carry both Thorne Basic Prenatal and Designs for Health Prenatal Pro in the office. Both are high-quality supplements that are independently tested and created by companies that we trust to confidently recommend to our patients. These, along with the other supplements in our retail line, are available for retail purchase exclusively through licensed health providers.
Should you have questions on these prenatal multivitamins, or the other core supplements we often recommend (such as additional Vitamin D/K2, fish oils, probiotics, or magnesium, to name a few), please contact us via the button below.