Ready to take a prenatal vitamin, but not sure how to choose? In this guide, we’ll help you understand what to look for in a prenatal vitamin and how to choose what’s right for you.

 

By product expert and new mom Claire Galiette

So you’ve decided to start trying to conceive, or you've gotten your positive pregnancy test (yay!). You know you should be taking a prenatal vitamin, but that’s about it. What should be in it? Are there different types? How do you decide which one to take? There’s a lot to prenatal nutrition, and what you choose can significantly impact you and your baby. So let’s start with the basics, and by the end of this article, hopefully you’ll be confident in choosing the prenatal supplement that’s right for you. 

When to start taking prenatal vitamins

First, let’s just clarify when you should start taking a prenatal vitamin. Ideally, you should begin prenatal supplementation one to three months before you start trying to conceive. This is to ensure you’ve built up a reserve of vitamins that will be essential for fetal development. The main reason for this is due to the large number of unintended pregnancies. A study published in 2016 revealed that a staggering 45% of pregnancies in the US are unplanned. The window during which folate supplementation is most important is in the first 21 to 28 days after conception, which is way before many of these pregnancies are recognized.

What are the most important nutrients for pregnancy?

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), the most important nutrients you need during pregnancy are folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and vitamin C. Here’s why:

  1. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects. These defects are serious abnormalities of the fetal brain and spinal cord. The risk of neural tube defects is increased by 25-30% with folate deficiency. Ideally, you'll begin taking extra folic acid at least three months before you become pregnant. Bonus fact: Folate is the natural form of folic acid. 

  2. Iron plays a profound role in organ development, particularly the brain. Iron also helps prevent anemia, a condition in which blood has a low number of healthy red blood cells. Over 40% of pregnant women are anemic and up to 25% are iron deficient, which can be dangerous if left untreated.

  3. Calcium is a key building block of bones, teeth, muscle function, and more. When you’re pregnant, your growing baby is prioritized and uses lots of calcium, putting stress on your body, teeth, and bone mineral homeostasis.

  4. Vitamin D, AKA the sunshine vitamin, supports immune function, fertility, and healthy teeth and bones. Vitamin D deficiency is common in pregnancy, so it's important that your prenatal routine includes it. 

  5. Choline is important for the development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. Approximately 90%–95% of pregnant women don't get enough choline through diet, and some prenatals contain little—if any—choline. Some evidence indicates that lower choline levels are associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects as well.

  6. Omega-3 fatty acids provide energy, support development, decrease inflammation, promote heart health, and support immunity. They also may help to prevent preterm labor/delivery, lower the chances of preeclampsia, and may increase birth weight.  Additionally, they may help to prevent depression in the mother by possibly warding off postpartum depression.

  7. According to the World Health Organization, vitamin B6 is important for several metabolic processes, as well as development and functioning of the nervous system. Vitamin B12 is important for maintaining the health of your nervous system and the brain development and growth of a fetus. It’s believed that when taken with folate during pregnancy, B12 supplements can help prevent spina bifida and other spinal and central nervous system birth defects.

  8. Vitamin C is a vital part of liver health, the primary organ for breaking down hormones like estrogen.

Four factors to help choose the best prenatal vitamin

When you’re thinking about how to choose the best prenatal vitamin for you, take these four factors into consideration:

  1. Nutrition: Now that you know what are the most important nutrients for pregnancy, make sure your prenatal has them! 

  2. Dosage: Next, it’s important to make sure you’re getting an adequate amount (but not too much) of each nutrient. You can take a look at ACOG’s recommendations and compare to the prenatal you’re considering.

  3. Ingredient Type: Not all ingredients are created equal. There are some nutrients that come in different forms that are more easily absorbed and used by the body (called bioavailability). For example, folate. Folic acid is a synthetic folate made in a lab that’s often used in vitamins and processed foods, whereas MTHF folate is a food folate that is the highest bioavailable folate available for dietary supplements and can be utilized immediately by your body. Some prenatal vitamins use folic acid while others (including ours!) use MTHF folate. More ingredients that have different bioavailability depending on the form or source include iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, zinc, and biotin. You can learn more about these ingredients and what to look for here.

  4. Format: Format is important in that you should choose a vitamin type that works for you (more on this below). Whether that’s a liquid capsule, softgel, gummy, or even powder, the most important thing is that it’s something you can take every single day

What’s so great about Natalist Prenatal Daily Packets?

Here are five important features about the Natalist Prenatal Daily Packets.

  1. Comprehensive nutrition: They contain 21 high-quality, bioavailable ingredients to nourish and support your body at every stage of your pregnancy journey. This includes folate, iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, omega-3 fatty acids (DHA), B vitamins (B6 and B12), and vitamin C, plus iodine, biotin, and selenium. 

  2. Formulation: The evidence-based ingredient selection and formulation was led by a board-certified OBGYN, Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, and a registered dietitian-nutritionist, Lauren Manaker, RN. 

  3. Vegan: They’re vegan and free of the most common allergens.

  4. Convenient: They’re super convenient so you don’t “forget” to take them after a long day when your head hits the pillow, and it’s just too much to sort through multiple bottles and count the pills. Each day’s vitamins are packaged into 30 daily packets, making it simple to take daily—and take with you if you’re traveling or going to work.  

  5. Earth friendlier: We always keep our impact on Mother Earth top of mind, and our Prenatal Daily Packets use 55% less plastic than equivalent supplement bottles. What’s more, like all of our products, it’s 100% plastic neutral. 

What’s so great about Natalist Prenatal Gummies?

After all that, why would you even consider something else? Here’s why you’ll love Natalist Prenatal Gummies:

  1. Gummy form factor: Well, the truth of the matter is that some people (especially pregnant people) are really sensitive to smell, taste, and overall digestion. Others simply don’t like taking pills. That’s why we developed a prenatal gummy alternative. Because the best prenatal vitamin you can take is the one you take every single day

  2. Vital prenatal nutrition: Natalist Prenatal Gummies provide vital prenatal nutrition with 21 key ingredients to support and nourish your body at every stage of your pregnancy journey. In fact, it’s the only prenatal gummy on the market to include folate, iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, DHA, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and vitamin C.

  3. Formulation: We formulated the Prenatal Gummies with the same board-certified OBGYN and registered dietitian who worked with us on our Prenatal Daily Packets, and it took us over a year to ensure the excellent taste and must-have vitamins and minerals could fit into just three gummies per day. 

  4. Gluten free and vegetarian: We made our Gummies gluten free and vegetarian to include as many dietary preferences as possible.

  5. Earth friendlier: And of course, they’re certified plastic neutral, like all of our products.

Shop Prenatal Gummies 

Prenatal Daily Packets vs. Prenatal Gummies

So what’s the difference? Besides the capsule versus gummy format, there are some more differences between the two products. See below a detailed comparison of our two prenatal vitamins side by side to see which fits your lifestyle best. 

Other pregnancy supplements

If you’re taking a prenatal vitamin, then why the need for additional vitamins? Well, the truth of the matter is there are some unpleasant side effects of being pregnant. Here are some potential use cases for considering other prenatal supplements: 

  • The first one that comes to mind is constipation, which is common during pregnancy. Taking a fiber supplement can help combat digestive discomfort and reduce the formation of hemorrhoids. 

  • Additionally, your doctor may recommend additional vitamins if you’re diagnosed with anemia or other deficiencies. Over 40% of pregnant women are anemic and up to 25% are iron deficient, which can be dangerous if left untreated.

  • Vitamin D deficiency is also common in pregnancy, especially among high-risk groups such as vegetarians, women with limited sun exposure, and people with darker skin. 

Always consult your doctor before taking additional supplements.

Takeaways

Hopefully this information has helped you become more comfortable and confident in your prenatal vitamin choice. Let’s recap:

  • Ideally, you should begin taking a prenatal vitamin one to three months before you start trying to conceive. 

  • The most important nutrients you need during pregnancy are folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and vitamin C.

  • When you’re thinking about how to choose the best prenatal vitamin for you, take into account nutrition, dosage, ingredient type, and format.

  • Natalist Prenatal Daily Packets offer comprehensive prenatal nutrition supplement with 21 high-quality, bioavailable ingredients, including folate, iron, calcium, vitamin D, choline, omega-3 fatty acids (DHA), B vitamins (B6 and B12), and vitamin C, plus iodine, biotin, and selenium. 

  • Natalist Prenatal Gummies include ACOG recommended vitamins and minerals, including 21 premium ingredients, in an easily digestible and tasty gummy format.

  • Other prenatal vitamins you may consider taking are fiber, iron, and vitamin D3.

  • At the end of the day, the best prenatal vitamin for you is the one you can take every single day!