3 Keys to Choosing a Good Prenatal Vitamin

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Written by: Dr. Samina Mitha, ND

Walking through the health food store or medicine aisle can be daunting at times when trying to choose the best prenatal vitamin. There are so many options to choose from, it can seem quite overwhelming. On the other hand, it may have been really simple for you to choose your prenatal vitamin with a prescription of Materna or PregVit.

A women’s nutrition and when trying to conceive and when she is pregnant is key! Why? Because her body needs to have optimal levels of vitamins and minerals in order to support a healthy pregnancy.

In this post, I am going to walk you through what I do with patients in order to give them the information they need to make an informed decision when choosing a prenatal vitamin. My ultimate goal is to inform and empower women to make a choice that is comfortable for themselves.

  1. Dosage

All vitamins carry a certain recommended daily dose in order for the body to function optimally. In the case of preconception and pregnancy these values are increased in order to support the women. It is very key to look for a prenatal vitamin that contains specific quantities of each vitamin. There are many prenatal vitamins out there that do not contain the right dosage for each vitamin and mineral – so you may in fact not be getting the recommended daily requirements!

Most naturopathic approved brands contain higher amounts of various vitamins compared to generic brands. This is especially true for B Vitamins, Vitamin D,

  1. Forms of Vitamin
  • Oxide vs. Citrate: many of the vitamins in prenatals contain oxide forms. The oxide form is not as absorbed as the citrate form and can be irritating to the body.
  • Iron fumarate vs. Iron Bisglycinate: Fumarate form of iron has low absorption and can cause digestion upset such as constipation. Look for Iron Citrate or Iron Bisglycinate which are better absorbed and cause less G.I. conerns.
  • Active vs. Inactive forms: Many of the vitamins in a generic prenatal can be inactive and need to be converted to their active form. Especially B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (pyroxidine) in their active forms are B2 (riboflavin-5’-phosphate ) and B6 (pyridoxal-5’-phosphate). If your digestive system is compromised it can be difficult to absorb these vitamins. Therefore, taking the active form can ensure you are getting the vitamin’s benefits.
  • Folic acid vs. Methyl-tetrahydrofolate (MTHFR): up to 60% of the population has a genetic defect that prevents them from activating folic acid resulting is lack of absorption of the vitamin. Take the activated form (MTHFR) assists in absorption preventing miscarriages and birth defects.
  1. Additives

It can be very eye opening when you read the product label, word for word! Watch out for certain additives in the prenatal you choose. Many prenatal vitamins in the pharmacy are known to contain certain additives that may be toxic to the body.

Materna contains other additives such as FD&C red no.40, BHT, sodium lauryl sulfate, titanium dioxide, gelatin, mineral oil, soybean, and more.

PregVit contains ammonium hydroxide, N-butyl alcohol, carnauba wax, D&C Red No. 27, FD&C Blue No. 1, FD&C Blue No. 2, FD&C Red No. 40, FD&C Yellow No. 6, isopropyl alcohol, macrogol/PEG 3350, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polyvinyl alcohol, propylene glycol, shellac glaze, simethicone, sodium croscarmellose, sodium lauryl sulfate, starch (corn starch), talc, and titanium dioxide.

Typically the prenatal vitamins that are given by Naturopathic Doctors do not contain additives and fillers. They tend to be safe and nontoxic to the body.

If you have any additional questions feel free to reach out!