What are the best prenatal vitamins and why you need them

What Are The Best Prenatal Vitamins To Take While Pregnant

We all want something better.

Something that gives us a better advantage.

We have been trying to conceive in the last 24 months, just absolute disappointment.

So we did what most couples would have done, searching for some kind of holy grail.

Along the way we stumbled upon prenatal vitamins and I hate to say this but , it doesn’t do much to improve fertility (there’s no scientific evidence) but it does help prepare you towards a viable and healthy pregnancy.

Though the journey of conception was not the easiest for us but no doubt we could see the benefit of getting prenatal vitamins.

Even after my wife was pregnant, we still maintained having the prenatal vitamins. Although it is not prescribed by doctors, but highly recommended to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals when nursing and breastfeeding.

As you’re expecting you need to prepare your body to nourish not just for yourself but also for your baby that needs all the important nutrition, vitamins, minerals and of course your tender love and care.

So…what are the best prenatal vitamins to take while pregnant?

Here are the best prenatal vitamins to take while pregnant (or even if you are trying to conceive or even after delivery, when breastfeeding and nursing)

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    Quick Comparison Of The Best Prenatal Vitamins Available

    Serving Form With DHA? Folate or Folic Acid? Ingredients Stomach Friendly? Price per Serving
    Vitamin Code "Raw" Prenatal Vitamins 3 Tablets / Daily No Folate (natural sources) Raw Wholesome Foods From Vegetables and Fruits Yes $0.70
    Nature Made Prenatal Multi + DHA Softgels) 1 softgel tablet daily Yes. 200mg Folic Acid Synthetic Not known $0.21
    New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins 3 Tablets / Daily No Folate (natural sources) Natural / Organic Yes $0.87
    Nature’s Energy Prenatal Vitamins & Minerals Liquid / 30ml serving daily No Folic Acid 100% Natural Yes $1.80
    Nature’s Way Alive! Prenatal Premium Gummy 3 Chewable Gummies / daily Yes. 75mg Folic Acid Blend of Natural and Synthetic Not known $0.55
    Rainbow Light Prenatal One 1 tablet / daily No Folic Acid Natural / Organic Yes $0.28

    Best Overall - Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal

    As the name suggests, Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal is a comprehensive whole foods multi nutrient formula. It is specifically targeted for women during pre-conception (preparing to get pregnant), pregnancy and lactation (read: breastfeeding).

    The great thing about Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal is that the nutrients are from raw fruits and vegetables instead of synthetic components. So yup, they are pretty much natural which is great for you and your baby.

    The idea is that synthetic vitamins are chemically similar to ones found in whole foods, but our bodies may not react to them the same way. As and when you eat real food, your body will thank you for the natural blend of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Food based supplements like Vitamin Code mimic this.

    Lastly, for some women, morning sickness can be quite intense during the 1st trimester. Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal has ginger that is well known to soothe nausea. It also has probiotics to support a healthy gut and immune system.

    Dosage

    30, 90 and 180 (10 days, 1 month and 2 months supply based on 1 serving a day)

    Pros

    Cons

    Best Budget Option - Nature Made Prenatal Multi + DHA Softgels

    The road to having a baby can put a strain on your purse and that is very true in this time and age. So having a choice of a value for money prenatal vitamin goes a long good for your budget and also to keep both mommy and baby happily healthy along the way.

    So, in our opinion, the best value for money and budget option for prenatal vitamins is the Nature Made Prenatal with DHA softgels.

    The great thing here is Nature Made Prenatals are included with DHA , a big bonus as you get all the key essentials nutrients for a healthy pregnancy in this bottle.

    Dosage

    Just one 1 day , yes 1 softgel (easy to swallow) a day!

    Available in 60, 90 or 110 (good for almost 5 months.

    Pros

    Cons

    Best Organic - New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins

    Similar to our best overall option, New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin is made from whole foods, better yet, it’s made from certified organic ingredients and also kosher.

    Overall, this prenatal is quite a good choice given the natural organic ingredients however, some reviews pointed out that Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin uses folic acid instead of the preferred folate.

    Also, the folic acid in 1serving is just a tad below the optimal level for baby and mommy but otherwise everything else in the Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin is great!

    Dosage

    3 capsules per serving (a day).

    Available in 48, 96, 192 and 270 (about ½ month, 1 month, 2 months and 3 months supply)

    Pros

    Cons

    Best liquid prenatals– Nature’s Energy Prenatal Vitamins & Minerals

    If you prefer to gulp down your daily dose of prenatal vitamins instead of swallowing bulky tablets, here is a good option for you.

    Natures Energy Prenatal Vitamins & Minerals is in liquid form which makes it easy to take and enjoyable to mix it with drinks and smoothies.

    Made with 100% natural ingredients, it has a blend of orange , peach and mango flavors which makes it great tasting and formularized to maximize the absorption of nutrients you and your baby need.

    Dosage

    Available in 2 types

    -2 oz (1 fl oz serving great to pack it for trips or on the go)

    -32 oz (1 serving a day for a month)

    Pros

    Cons

    Best chewable / gummy prenatal – Nature’s Way Alive! Prenatal Premium Gummy Multivitamin with DHA.

    This has to be the best option for anyone who loves a chewy gummy.

    What better to a gummy that provides you the best vitamins and minerals for you and your baby.

    Would be a great companion to have especially when you have to bad morning sickness episodes.

    Also, Nature’s Way Alive! Prenatal Premium Gummy are loaded up with plant based DHA, so it’s really an all in one prenatal vitamin you can chew on!

    Dosage

    3 gummies a day (25 servings per bottle)

    Pros

    Cons

    Best One a Day Prenatal – Rainbow Light Prenatal One

    As the name suggests, Rainbow Light Prenatal One is truly 1 tablet a day prenatal vitamin that has all the rainbow blend of superfoods.

    The name is inspired by the rainbow colors of powerful fruits and vegetables that are specially selected for this powerhouse prenatal vitamin.

     

    Dosage

    1 a day (Available in 90 and 150 tablet bottles)

    Pros

    Cons

    So why should you take prenatal vitamins?

    Nothing beats a healthy eating habit, but no matter how well you are eating, a healthy pregnant woman may be running low on a few essential vitamins and minerals.

     

    Simply because during pregnancy, you are essentially feeding a plus one and this where the demand for increased nutrients arise.

     

    Note: For women trying to get pregnant, it is also important to prepare your body with sufficient vitamins and minerals to cope with the higher demand of nutrients.

     

    How are prenatal vitamins different from regular multivitamins?

    Comparing to a regular multivitamin, prenatal vitamins are made specifically for pregnant women to ensure they get the most important nutrients that is crucial for the baby’s development and mother’s health.

    What do you need in Prenatal Vitamins?

    There are 6 key nutrients that you will want to look out for in a good prenatal vitamin. Most prenatal vitamin brands have all of this or most of it, just the amount of each nutrient differs from one another.

    These 6 key nutrients play a very important role in the baby’s growth & development over the pregnancy term. 

     

    Folic Acid

    Folic Acid is actually a B vitamin (B9) and is required by our bodies for normal growth and development. It is common to see folic acid in over the counter multivitamin supplements.

     

    When it comes to being pregnant or getting ready for pregnancy, folic acid is actually a very important vitamin. Taking folic acid before and early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called spina bifida (neural tube defects or NTDs). The neural tube is basically part of a foetus that ultimately develops into the brain and spinal cord of the baby.

     

    NTDs usually happen in early pregnancy usually in the 1st month, usually before you even know you are pregnant. That is why it is important to have enough folic acid in your body when you are getting ready to get pregnant.

     

    How much folic acid you need?

    To help prevent NTDs in early pregnancy, experts recommend a 400-800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily.

     

    Although many common foods are fortified with folic acid such as

    -Enriched bread

    -Pasta

    -Rice

    -Cereals

    -Wheat flour

     

    Folate vs folic acid

     

    The concern here is that our bodies don’t absorb folate as well as folic acid. Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate. Folate is present in many natural foods such as citrus juices, egg yolks, milk, avocados and dark leafy green vegetables.

     

    Certain brands of prenatal vitamins opt for folic acid and some folate. Usually the wholefoods / organic selections are based on folate.

     

    The difference is that folate is naturally occurring and compared to folic acid which is the synthetic form, there may be side effects such as bloating, appetite loss and nausea which just means it could make your morning sickness worse.

     

    Iron

    Iron is a required mineral for the body to make haemoglobin, a protein in your red blood cells that carries oxygen to your body. When you are pregnant, you need twice as much Iron, so that your body can make more blood to carry oxygen into your baby. Also, your baby also needs iron to makes her own blood.

     

    It is recommended by healthcare providers an Iron intake of 27mg during pregnancy

     

    Basically there are two types of iron. One from meat, poultry and fish. The other type of iron are from plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans.

     

    If you don’t get enough iron during pregnancy, you’ll increase the risk of

    • Getting infections
    • Developing
    • Being tired and fatigued all the time.
    • Having a premature baby. Baby being born before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
    • A low-birthweight baby. Baby being born less than 2.5kg / 5 lbs 8 ounces
    Calcium

    Calcium is a mineral that is essential to build and develop your baby’s bones, teeth, muscles and nerves. During pregnancy, it is important to have 1,000mg of calcium everyday, although it is recommended to have 1,200-1,400mg when you’re pregnant or breast feeding.

     

    Note: There is about 1,000mg of calcium in 3 (8 ounce glass) glasses of milk as a reference.

     

    You can get calcium from the foods you eat and also supplement with a prenatal vitamin. Good sources of calcium include

     

    -Dairy (milk, cheese and yogurt)

    -Green leafy vegetables – broccoli and cabbage

    -Beans and Lentils

    -Sardines (canned)

     

    Pregnant mothers will require more calcium in the later stages of pregnancy, especially in the third trimester, when the baby’s bones and skeletons are rapidly developing.

     

    The reason why calcium is one of the key minerals is because if you don’t get enough calcium, your baby will get it from your bones and that can lead to osteoporosis later in life, where your bones become brittle and break easily.

     

    Vitamin D

    Vitamin D is needed to help your baby’s bones and nervous system to develop. It also helps with the absorption of Calcium.

     

    Also, getting enough vitamin D lowers your risk of pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), low birth weight and pre-term birth (less than 37 weeks)

     

    During pregnancy, you’ll need at least 600iu (international units) of vitamin D. The cheapest source of vitamin D is from sunlight. But that may be too cumbersome and run the risk of sunburn and skin problems.

     

    You can also get vitamin D from food sources such as fatty fish like salmon, tuna and egg yolks.

     

    DHA

    DHA is short for docosahexaenoic acid. It is a fatty acid, better known as one of the 2 omega 3 fatty acids. The other is EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid). Fatty acids are the basic blocks of fat. DHA helps growth and development of the baby’s brain , eyes and nervous system.

     

    You’ll probably see many baby formula enriched with DHA.

     

    During pregnancy, you need about 200mg of DHA daily and most prenatal vitamins don’t come with DHA. You can get some DHA from fish oil but usually most fish oil has more EPA than DHA.

     

    DHA is more important during pregnancy simply because mother’s milk is simply more abundant in DHA than EPA. Nature designed it that way because DHA is the real healer and caregiver.

     

    In addition, it is more challenging for the body to convert EPA to DHA, but DHA can be converted to EPA with ease.

     

    Note: It’s a chemistry thing but basically for DHA to be converted it just needs to drop two carbon bonds

     

    Here is my recommendation for a great combination of DHA and Prenatal Vitamins that I highly recommended and also tested by independent laboratories (this is also the choice my wife has been taking)

     

    Iodine

    What is it?

    Iodine is a mineral often found in food. Iodine during pregnancy helps with the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. For the mother, iodine maintains and regulates the function of your thyroid. The thyroid is an organ at the base of your neck that regulates many hormones in your body.

     

    Having iodine deficiency can lead to birth defects, developmental delays and even low IQ.

     

    During pregnancy, it is recommended to have a daily intake of 150-220mcg of iodine. While not all prenatal vitamins contain iodine, you can easily get it from food sources such as fish, seafood, dairy and salt (iodized salt).

    Other important vitamins and minerals in a prenatal vitamin

    Vitamin A – make sure it is beta carotene and NOT retinol. Retinol should not be used during pregnancy as it can harm the baby. Many skin care products may contain retinol.

    Vitamin B1 – Thiamin -3mg

    Vitamin B2 – Riboflavin – 2mg

    Vitamin B3 – Niacin -20mg

    Vitamin B12 -6 mcg

    Vitamin C – 70mg

    Vitamin E – 10mg

    Zinc – 15mg

    Most prenatal vitamins have these vitamins and minerals included, what sets them apart is the concentration of each of the vitamin/mineral.

     

    For my wife, our doctor actually looked into the prenatal vitamins she was taking, actually drilled down to all the nutritional information and told us it was pretty complete.

    Which one is best for you?

     

    There are many options of prenatal vitamins in the market nowadays.

     

    Some find it difficult to manage to consume so many tablets a day, some find it hard to swallow, some prefer chewables , some prefer to drink it and etc.

     

    Luckily for everyone, there is an option for everyone. There are some prenatal vitamins that are packaged as a ‘one-size-fits-all’, but there are also options that are specifically tailored your needs.

    Check out the reviews above and see which one is the most suitable to your needs. The most expensive is not often the best. The best is the one that suits you most.

    Some things to consider about

    • Vegan / vegetarian
    • Organic
    • Chewables
    • Liquid form
    • One tablet a day (minimal dosage)
    • Sensitive stomach
    Side effects

    As your body is getting used to something new, there may be side effects from prenatal vitamins.

    It may be temporary and nothing to worry about.

    However, these side effects could also be due to the changes in your pregnancy especially during the first trimester.

    If you experience from any of these side effects, simply switch to other brands so you can still get the benefits of nutritional supplementation during your pregnancy.

    Most side effects are not dangerous, probably a little uncomfortable. If you need to switch brands along the way, go ahead. There is no reason to make your pregnancy experience an uncomfortable one.

    Some usual side effects include:

     

    Nausea – In the early stage of pregnancy, many things can make a pregnant women feel nauseous, it could be certain smells, food or just anything that may trigger (even pets).

    Loss of appetite – This is also very common in early pregnancy. Especially in the first semester due to morning sickness (together with nausea).

    Constipation – Certain changes in your body when pregnant causes constipation and it is usually due to the iron in the vitamin making things worse. Give it a few days for your body to get used to the vitamin.

    Poop color changes – This is also very much due to iron. Your body is getting used to the vitamins and minerals from the prenatal. Not a big thing to worry about

    The likelihood of having a serious side effect is rare but listen to your body.

    If you feel something is amiss and discomfort, discontinue taking the prenatal vitamins. Make sure you have your doctor’s clearance before continuing on.

    The bottom line

    Why this is the best?

    *Most prenatal vitamins do not come with DHA

    Best combo for Prenatal Vitamin and DHA

    Vitamin Code “Raw” Prenatal Vitamins and Xtend-Life’s Omega 3/ DHA Fish Oil

    So, what makes this the best and why do I say this is the best. Personally, I have seen my wife’s energy level improve after starting on vitamin code prenatal vitamins. She always felt  drained in the afternoons and although the main reason was not to improve her energy but I guess the blend of vitamins and minerals have a profound effect on her overall health.

    On the pregnancy side of things, we have been on a smooth pregnancy journey so far, at the time of this writing, we are well in our 8th month and just came back from the doctor’s to confirm everything is smooth sailing and a very typical 33 weeks pregnancy.

    As highlighted earlier, the vitamin code prenatal raw vitamins lack DHA. I suppose that DHA is an oil based form and it would be quite difficult to package it together given the natural and raw ingredients.

    For the past 10 years, we have been consuming a unique fish oil from New Zealand (yes the country known for its rugged beauty, geographic isolation and unspoiled oceans) that has a higher DHA than EPA.

    The DHA is 700mg per serving and is probably one of the highest we’ve seen in any fish oil supplement. My wife is currently taking an extra ½ serving (total of 1,050mg of DHA daily).

    And no fishy after taste from this fish oil. Testament to the high purity of the product.

    Here is an interesting thing about the Vitamin Code “Raw” Prenatal Vitamins. It is currently ranked highest amongst over 20 popular prenatal vitamins. This ranking is compiled by an independent company that just tests supplements.

    The rankings are based on several criteria such as

    -Label Accuracy

    -Product purity

    -Nutritional Value

    -Ingredient Safety

    -Projected Efficacy

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