Prenatal Vitamins: What To Look For
Prenatal vitamins are vitamin and mineral supplements that are intended for women who are pregnant, may become pregnant or who are breastfeeding. The idea of a supplement, is that they should supplement your nutrition-not replace it! So prenatal vitamins do not take the place of a nutrition from your food, they only help to make sure that women are receiving enough of the nutrients that support a positive pregnancy outcome.
The increased nutritional needs during pregnancy carry over to the postpartum period when breastfeeding, as there is a demand on a women's body to produce milk and nourish her baby.
Key things to look for in your prenatal vitamins:
L-Methylfolate: Folate is essential in making new cells-and this is what's going on when you're growing a baby! Many products contain folic acid. However, for our bodies to be able to use folic acid, it must first be converted to methylfolate. And for many of us-this isn't an efficient process. For this reason, you want to make sure your prenatal has L-Methylfolate.
Iron: Iron is necessary for healthy red blood cells. Red Blood Cells carry oxygen around the body to organs and tissues...including your baby!
Vitamin D3: essential for your immune system and mental health.
Calcium: Plays an essential role in maintaining and developing healthy bones and teeth.
Some great prenatal vitamin options include:
Thorns Basic Prenatal
Seeking Health Optimal Prenatal (limitation: does not contain iron, so you'd need to include another supplement)
Women's Essential Pregnancy Metagenics
Smarty Pants Prenatal-a good option if you're having a tough time stomaching pills (limitation: high in sugar!!)
Another important supplement to include is Fish Oil! EPA and DHA are omega 3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory effects and play a big role in the growth and development of baby. These omega 3s can be found in cold water fish. It's very difficult to take in enough EPA and DHA from diet alone, so each of us-not just those pregnant/trying to become pregnant/breastfeeding!-would benefit from supplementation.
When it comes to supplements, you get what you pay for. Be sure that you're selecting a prenatal vitamin that will support you in meeting your increased nutritional needs. After all, your body is doing a LOT of extra work...it's important to not only fuel the machine, but fill in the gaps where diet alone is not enough.