Picking the right prenatal supplement can be an overwhelming task in a crowded market. With countless options available, and many nutrients to consider, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and confused.
This comprehensive guide will help you navigate through the process and select the perfect prenatal vitamin for you and your baby. And although we wish we could ship everywhere internationally (we are working on this!) we hope this guide is helpful for those of you who can’t access WeNatal.
1. Prenatals Require Key Nutrients
When considering prenatal vitamins, it’s essential to ensure they contain specific nutrients crucial for a healthy pregnancy. Don’t be deceived by prenatals with only a handful of ingredients. There are 24 key nutrients that support a healthy pregnancy, and it’s important to find a supplement that includes them all.
a. Folate (not folic acid) (often in the incorrect form)
Many prenatals use folic acid, a synthetic form of folate. However, approximately 40% of pregnant women have genetic variations (MTHFR) that make it difficult to absorb folic acid. Look for methylated forms of folate and other B vitamins to ensure optimal absorption. Adequate folate intake helps prevent birth defects but also enhances fertility by restoring ovulation and improving egg quality. Aim for at least 800 micrograms (mcg) of folate in your prenatal vitamin.
b. Choline (often missing or the dosage is too low)
Choline is a nutrient of utmost importance for fetal brain development and cognition. Surprisingly, many prenatals either exclude choline or provide insufficient doses. Research suggests that during pregnancy, you need at least 450 mg/day of choline, and during lactation, the requirement increases to 550 mg/day. Considering the average daily intake of choline in US women aged 20-39 is only 285mg, it’s crucial to choose a prenatal vitamin that includes at least 350mg of choline.
c. Iron (often missing)
Iron requirements double during pregnancy to support the production of more blood and oxygen supply to the baby. If you’re already iron deficient, you may need to take an additional supplement alongside your prenatal vitamin. Look for a prenatal supplement that provides around 27 milligrams (mg) of iron to prevent iron deficiency anemia.
d. Vitamin D (often the dosage is too low)
Vitamin D plays a vital role in reducing the risk of miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, low birth weight, preterm birth, and postpartum depression. Aim for a prenatal vitamin that offers 4000 IU of vitamin D.
2. Avoid Prenatal Supplements with These Ingredients
It’s equally important to consider what’s not in a prenatal as what is included. The best way to do this is by flipping the bottle over and looking under “ingredients”. The less additives and shorter the list the better!
Look for a prenatal that is non-GMO and free of synthetic fillers, artificial colors, and major allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, and nuts. And it’s even better if they test each batch for microbiological/bacterial contamination and heavy metals.
3. Check for Third-Party Testing and Quality
Look for prenatal vitamins that undergo third-party testing to guarantee their quality and purity. These tests verify that the supplement contains the claimed ingredients and meets safety standards.
Third-party testing is important for supplements (that are not regulated) because it provides an unbiased and independent evaluation of the product’s quality, safety, and efficacy.
4. Evaluate Form and Dosage
Different forms of prenatal supplements have varying degrees of absorption and bioavailability in the body. Bioavailability refers to the amount and rate at which a nutrient is absorbed and utilized within the body. Choosing a supplement with a form that has good bioavailability ensures that your body can effectively absorb and deliver the desired health benefits and optimize nutrient status.
Insufficient intake of certain nutrients during pregnancy can lead to deficiencies, which can have detrimental effects on maternal and fetal health. The dosage of a prenatal supplement should be sufficient to prevent deficiencies and support optimal health for both mother and baby.
While nutrients are essential for a healthy pregnancy, it’s important to avoid excessive dosages- too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Some vitamins and minerals can have adverse effects when taken in high amounts during pregnancy. A few you want to make sure you’re within normal levels are iron, Vitamin E and Vitamin A.
The WeNatal Difference:
WeNatal formulas were developed based on scientific research and guidelines. The supplements contain the necessary nutrients in optimal amounts to support fertility health for men and women and to meet the specific needs of women during preconception, pregnancy, and lactation.
The comprehensive nutrient profile and innovative manufacturing process of WeNatal is unmatched to any other on the market. They include key nutrients (often omitted from other brands) such as folate, iron, choline, and vitamin D which are vital for a healthy pregnancy and the proper growth of the baby.
The Bottom Line on Choosing a Prenatal Vitamin:
Remember, prenatal vitamins are meant to supplement a healthy diet, not replace it. Strive to maintain a balanced and varied diet to obtain as many nutrients as possible from whole foods.
By following these step-by-step guidelines, you can confidently select the perfect prenatal supplement to support you and your baby’s well-being.