One of the most common questions I get from readers and clients is, "What prenatal vitamin should I choose"? I've avoided answering this question for a while because it's hard to give specific brand name recommendations when there is so much to choose from and product availability varies tremendously depending on where you live. That being said, this week I'm going to offer a launching point for women. You'll find a much more in depth answer to this question on Baby Making and Beyond but for now, here's a great place to start.
Why do I need a Prenatal if I eat a real food or clean Paleo diet?
This is a great question. Some women do decide not to take a prenatal combination, which is cool, but there are some things that are important to consider:
- Pregnancy (and while breastfeeding) is a time with increased, some might say insane, nutrient demands. We quite simply just need, LOTS of essential micro nutrients to support the body's process of creating a new life. Most diets, even the best, can't provide all you need. The good news is that most of the time your baby will get what he or she needs by depleting you of nutrients. If you aren't replenishing your stores, you can, and will become deficient. This is especially true if you are having multiple babies 2-3 years apart or less.
- Soil and food quality just isn't what it used to be. Even the cleanest of diets won't provide all of the nutrients you need for optimal fertility and pregnancy. The carrots our grandparents ate are not the same as the ones we find in the grocery store today, even the organic heirloom rainbow ones. A Scientific American article looked at several different studies which demonstrated time and time again that from 1975 to 1997 average calcium levels in 12 fresh veggies dropped by 27%, iron levels by 37%, vitamin A by 21% and vitamin C by 30%.
- The stress of our modern busy lives will depletes all of us. Stress and high cortisol will drain you of several critical fertility and pregnancy nutrients like B- vitamins (including folate), vitamin C, zinc and magnesium.
- If you've are a recovering vegan/vegetarian, have had a history of food restriction, over exercise or spent much of your life (like most of us) eating a standard american diet, you are nutrient depleted. It takes many years to correct these imbalances.
What to look for in a Prenatal Vitamin
- Look for a brand that lists Folate (5- methyltetrahydrofolate) not "folic acid" especially if your have or suspect you have MTHFR or other methylation issues as you won't be able to utilize the synthetic form of this B-vitamin. High dose folic acid supplementation has also recently been linked to various forms of cancer and can a mask B12 deficiency. Baby Making and Beyond will have lots more on this critical difference. Folate must be sourced from real food so a "raw or whole food" like brand will usually have folate not folic acid in it.
- Look for synergistic combinations of vitamins with cofactors to aid in absorption and assimilation. These may include fruit powder extracts, enzymes or herbs.
- Ensure they don't contain soy, gluten or dairy and look for 3rd party testing and verification.
- Ensure they don't contain soy, gluten or dairy and are 3rd party tested and verified.
Meg the Midiwife's Favourite Prenatal Vitamin
Innate Response Baby and Me. There is a 1st/2nd trimester blend and a 3rd/postpartum blend. I love the ingredient list and in my mind this company is legit.
If you live in the USA you'll have access to a much greater variety of products than we have here in Canada. I'd love to hear about what prenatal you've chosen and why! Send me a message or leave me a comment below!