Why Are Prenatal Vitamins Important?
The short answer: Because you’re now caring for two! During this transitional time, your nutritional demand during pregnancy significantly increases as you're now sharing nutrients with your developing baby. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is the best but may not be the easiest way to get all the vital nutrients you and your baby need.
Food aversion and morning sickness are pretty common, especially in the first few months of pregnancy, making it more difficult to get all the essential nutrients from food alone. Taking a prenatal supplement is highly recommended to meet the unique nutritional demands of pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamins are specially formulated to help boost immune health, maintain adequate blood cell production, support healthy growth, and avoid nutrient deficiencies that may lead to preterm birth or neural tube defects.*
4 Helpful Ways to Choose the Best Prenatal Vitamin for You.
With so many options on the market, it can be challenging to know how to choose the best prenatal vitamins for you. To make the process easier, we've created a checklist of key factors to consider when selecting a prenatal vitamin.
Here are 4 important things to consider when choosing a prenatal supplement:
1. Lifestyle and Health Conditions
Every woman's dietary needs and preferences are unique. A pregnant person with dietary restrictions or allergies may need to choose a prenatal supplement that is free from certain allergens or ingredients. For example, if you're on a keto diet, you should avoid gummy vitamins due to their high sugar and opt for low-calorie, and sugar-free options like Root'd.
Certain health conditions may also affect a person's ability to absorb nutrients that may require additional supplementation or special dosing during pregnancy. For instance, if you have an MTHFR gene mutation, your doctor may advise taking a prenatal supplement that includes methylfolate instead of folic acid.
Related Article: Methylfolate vs. Folic Acid: Which is Better?
2. Daily Serving Size
The number of capsules or pills required per day to get the complete amounts of ingredients on a supplement's nutrition label is listed as the "serving size." A traditional prenatal's serving size can range from 1-6 pills per day, depending on the brand. Is this recommended daily serving size realistic for you? If not, then a full-spectrum prenatal multivitamin should be your best pick. A packet of Root'd, for example, already includes 25 essential vitamins and minerals plus a bunch of additional nutrients in one serving. (So much better than taking several individual pills daily).
Remember that taking less than what's recommended may increase the risk of nutrient deficiency and birth defects. More doesn't mean better, either. Taking more than the recommended dose for many vitamins may be unsafe for you and your baby and can mask other nutrient deficiencies. For instance, when unmetabolized folic acid builds up in the body, it may mask vitamin B12 deficiency.*
3. Nutrient Content
When choosing a prenatal or any other dietary supplement, it's important to consider the nutrient content. Before adding anything to your cart, check if it contains a wide variety of key nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. A well-rounded prenatal supplement should have at least 25 essential vitamins and minerals, especially folate and iron (which gummy vitamins usually DO NOT contain - most notably iron).
Getting adequate iron levels enables your body to carry sufficient oxygen to your baby during pregnancy.* On the other hand, folate is a crucial nutrient for preventing neural tube irregularities (such as abnormalities of the fetal brain and spinal cord)*
Other essential nutrients during pregnancy are:
- B-Complex: aid in energy*
- Vitamin C: supports tissue repair and helps the baby's bone and teeth development*
- Vitamin D: aids in bone growth*
- Zinc: supports immune system and promotes healthy cell division*
- Choline: aids in placental growth* (While some prenatal supplements contain only a few amounts of choline, it is one nutrient our nutrionists recomend to take separately* (45mg included in Root’d for this reason. If you’re not able to take separately, some is certainly better than none.*)
- DHA (omega-3 fatty acid): promotes baby's brain and eye development* (We highly advise taking this as a separate supplement as it's very difficult to get the therapeutic dose that would actually be effective all into one formula.)
4. Quality of Ingredients
The quality of ingredients used in prenatal products can affect how well your body absorbs and uses them.* A prenatal multivitamin with bioactive ingredients is really the best bet. For example, instead of taking folic acid (a cheap synthetic form of vitamin B9), choose a prenatal supplement that contains methylfolate, a bioactive form of folate that your body may better absorb and utilize after ingestion.*
At Root'd, we always use high-quality citrate, glycinate, and methylated sources to aid in maximum absorption.
Check out this 2-step comprehensive guide we've created for you to learn more about the high-quality ingredients you have to look for when choosing a prenatal supplement.
When To Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
Honestly, it’s never too early to start. If you're trying to get pregnant, it’s recommended to start taking a prenatal supplement at least three months before conception. This helps your body to stock up on some of the key nutrients that are in high demand during pregnancy and ensure you don’t wait until a missed period to start.
Just keep in mind that prenatal vitamins and mineral supplements can't replace a well-rounded, nutrient-rich diet. Try your best to still get most of the required prenatal nutrients from healthy food sources.
It's always best to consult your doctor or OB-GYN for their best recommendations. They can help recommend the best prenatal supplement based on your dietary preference and health concerns.