As a doctor I am often asked, “what makes the best prenatal vitamins?”
Potential influencers in this decision include: healthcare provider recommendation, ingredients or lack thereof, tolerance, cost, shape, size, smell and insurance coverage.
Let’s start with the basic guidelines.
While calories seem to be the most important nutritional factor in determining birth weight in the US, experts recommend prenatal vitamins for expecting and lactating women. This recommendation is especially for those who do not consume an adequate diet, which some argue even if you eat very healthy you could still be lacking some key nutritional needs. Women are at higher risk women for deficiency if they are carrying multiples, heavy smokers, adolescents, complete vegetarians, substance abusers, or women with lactose intolerance or history of bariatric surgery.
Of course, not all prenatal vitamins are created equal.
Pregnancy may be filled with unicorns and rainbows, but it’s not all a walk in the park. From aches and pains to constipation and cankles, every week can feel like a new adventure! We know; we’ve been there. So has healthy mama®. healthy mama® is the first brand to offer pregnant and nursing mamas a complete line of safe and effective wellness solutions for those times when you feel a little less than “glowing.” Their remedies were created in partnership with doctors and nutritionists to ensure we’re bringing you the highest quality and safest solutions for your pregnancy and nursing related needs.
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Here is what your pregnancy requires:
- 30mg of iron (generally an increase of 15mg/day) to prevent iron deficiency anemia.
- At least 250mg of calcium is vital for fetal skeletal development during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester.
- At least 0.6 mg of folic acid supplementation is recommended since it reduces the risk of neural tube defects. This should be taken even preconception.
- Adequate amounts of vitamins A, B complex, E, C, D, and zinc.
- DHA supplementation is recommended to support healthy fetal brain and eye development during pregnancy and nursing especially since consumption of fish is limited.
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Remember it is important not to take too much of any vitamin during pregnancy as it could be harmful, particularly vitamin A. Also, since herbal ingredients have not been studied for safety or effectiveness, they should be avoided.
Over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription?
That is the question. Women are choosing over-the-counter prenatal vitamins more than ever due to cost, convenience and quality of available products. If you are buying OTC, you want to look for a USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) seal or NSF International certification. These two organizations monitor supplement quality.
Your doctor can also prescribe a prenatal vitamin for you. This could be desirable if you have special health consideration such as those with vitamin deficiencies, those who have had weight loss surgery and those are are vegans.
The amount of Folic acid used to be higher in prescription products. The laws have changed and there no longer seems to be any significant difference between most over-the-counter and prescription prenatal vitamins these days.
A small sized pill makes for easier swallowing of vitamins, especially if nausea is an issue. Less is more! Many favor gluten free, dye-free, odorless, lactose and shellfish free options. If nausea is an issue when you take prenatal, try taking them before bed so you can sleep through the nausea.
I happily recommend Be Well Rounded!™ prenatal vitamins by Healthy Mama as it provides all the required vitamins, minerals and nutrients in adequate amounts. They are a premium and affordable option. Plus, the special iron blend used doesn’t cause gastric upset or constipation which some pregnant women experience due to their increased iron intake.
We want to know, are you taking/did you take OTC or prescription prenatal vitamins? Share your comments below.
This post was repurposed with permission from Healthy Mama brand blog. Written by by Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG / healthy mama® medical expert.