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Reviewing the research and choosing which prenatal vitamin is best for you can be overwhelming. While there are many great options, prenatal takes more than just the amount of each vitamin in a tablet. When I recommend prenatal vitamins for my patients, I consider several things such as safety and ingredients. Ideally, a prenatal should be started before you start trying to conceive, so those nutrients are doing their job before bringing your baby into the womb. However, starting today is better than not at all, and you are still doing so much good for your body and baby. Prenatals ensure that you have the appropriate doses of needed nutrients to support your health as a female and healthy pregnancy.
Here is my 5 step process I use when reviewing prenatal vitamins.
1. Folate versus folic acid. I will only recommend a prenatal vitamin that contains folate (5-methyltetrahydrofolate). Folate is the naturally occurring form of vitamin B9, and folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9. The problem is some women carry gene variants that can hinder the last step of the conversion. This means that almost half of women struggle to get the full benefits from Folic Acid, and the remainder that your cells do not convert will then float around your body and can become toxic.
2. Format of the vitamin. Many struggle to swallow vitamins as they tend to be larger in size, or you need to consume multiple pills to equal the daily dosage. Unfortbaly, gummies are not the best option due to the sugar content, and they often contain fewer vitamins than other formats. My recommendation is to stick with capsules or powder. If it is in an easy-to-consumer format, you will be more likely to take it daily.
3. It is essential to know the iron formate and amount provided in your supplement. Iron deficiency anemia is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and a supplement that can cause side effects in some. The recommended amount for an iron supplement is 18 mg per day but increases to 27 mg per day during pregnancy.
4. Vitamin D amount. Vitamin D deficiency commonly occurs during pregnancy and is more prevalent in certain high-risk groups. This includes vegetarians, limited sun exposure such as those who live in cold climates, and ethnic minorities, especially those with darker skin.
5. Quality of ingredients. Unfortunately, not all supplements are made alike. Many you buy in stores lack quality ingredients, and testing has been completed to ensure no microbial, pathogens, heavy metals, or other harmful ingredients are in the supplement.