how to choose a prenatal supplement

Have you been advised that all prenatal supplements are pretty much the same, to just take any one, and to make sure that it has folic acid? SIGH!

Your prenatal supplement is an important part of your pregnancy, and which one to buy shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are many quality ones on the market, and choosing the right one for you is very important.

Think of it as a safety net, filling in nutritional gaps that may be there in your pregnancy diet.

Knowing what to look out for is key, and this includes specific nutrients, doses and nutrient forms.

Looking at the nutrient forms means you’ll be checking for ones that are in their “active” form. These are the ones best absorbed and used by your body – here are a couple of examples of what this means-

  • Folate versus folic acid – Folic acid has to be converted into folate by the body, and 40% to 60% of women carry variants of the gene MTHFRthat enables this conversion to take place.

    Choosing a prenatal with folate (Methyl-Folate, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate, or 5-MTHF) instead of folic acid means that it’s already in the bioavailable form (readily usable by the body), and it ensures that adequate amounts are being provided to you.

    Folate is at the top of my list as an important one to check for, as it helps to prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in babies.

  • The need for B12 increases during both pregnancy and lactation, and choosing B12 in it’s activated form, Methylcobalamin, is also important.

    B12 promotes blood cell formation, and also helps prevent birth defects that affect the spine and central nervous system.

    It’s usually recommended to continue with prenatal supplements throughout pregnancy AND breastfeeding, so having the correct form of B12 is beneficial for both.

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Seeking Health is a prenatal that contains methylfolate and methylcobalamin which are the absorbable forms of B9 and B12 for women with MTHFR defects. It also contains 250mg choline, and ginger, which may help if you’re suffering from nausea in pregnancy.

Getting adequate doses of vitamins and minerals is also important, and most prenatal supplements are designed to meet minimum nutrient requirements.

This is why I recommend using them as a supplement alongside a nourishing diet, because supplements are not designed to optimally nourish both you and baby on their own, and shouldn’t be relied upon for this.

Food first, always! Nutrient dosage in prenatal supplements is important because taking too much or too little can be detrimental.

Quality is also important to look out for, as not all prenatal supplements are created equally. Poor quality supplements may contain nutrient forms that are more difficult for our bodies to absorb.

They may also have unnecessary fillers such as carrageenan, added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives like sulphites and even hydrogenated oils.

Opting for higher quality prenatal supplements when possible may increase your absorption of nutrients, and may also help with pregnancy symptoms, such as nausea and constipation.

There are many prenatal supplements available to choose from, the important thing to remember is to choose one that will fill in YOUR nutrients gaps in YOUR diet.

There is not a one-size-fits-all, and whole food should always be your first choice with a prenatal supplement chosen because it’s the perfect one for you in your pregnancy.

Interested in checking out further information about prenatal vitamins? Join the Nourished Mama Circle for all things pregnancy nutrition and more!

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