A funny little thing happens when you make the decision for the first time that you want to plan a family. About a million and one thoughts and questions start surfacing – including ones you have never given the slightest attention to in your entire life, like “what prenatal vitamin would I take?”
Deciding what prenatal vitamin you will take is something that should be taken seriously. There are a lot of choices out on the market, some good, some better and some not so good. It is important that you familiarize yourself with what the differences are between at least a few brands and understand the ingredients.
Also, keep in mind that the decision to begin taking a prenatal vitamin should be before you plan to get pregnant.
Why Take a Prenatal Vitamin?
Prenatal vitamins are important through the entire cycle from pre-pregnancy to post pregnancy and everything inbetween. Mostly the purpose of taking a prenatal vitamin is to fill nutritional gaps that may be getting missed in the mother’s diet. The most important nutrients for pregnant women include Calcium, Iodine, Folic Acid, and Iron.
Calcium – This is important mostly for the pregnant woman’s own calcium levels. Once the fetus starts to use calcium, it is coming from the mother so it is important that the mother replenishes this calcium loss in her own bones.
Excellent Calcium sources: Raw organic goat or cow’s milk, sesame and chia seeds, dark leafy greens, oranges, quinoa, black-strap molasses, beans, broccoli, dried fruits and nuts.
Iodine – aids in the proper functioning of the Thyroid. It is important to get adequate amounts of iodine to prevent stunted growth, mental disorders, and deafness. In more severe cases, an iodine deficiency can cause miscarriage or stillbirth.
Sea vegetables such as kelp, raw organic cheese, organic strawberries, organic potatoes, cranberries, organic yogurt and organic navy beans will help to keep up iodine levels in your diet.
Folic Acid – adequate levels of folic acid are extremely important to prevent neural tube defects in the fetus. It is suggested that pregnant woman get at least 400 mcg per day starting prior to pregnancy and all throughout the 9 months.
A diet consisting of broccoli, spinach, chickpeas, beans, and lentils will help you to increase your folate consumption.
Iron – a good prenatal will contain iron which helps both mother and baby with oxygen levels. Iron helps the blood carry the oxygen.
Foods high in iron include red meat, pork, poultry, beans, seafood, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, raisins, apricots, iron fortified cereals, breads and pastas.
Although I have mentioned good food sources for these vitamins above, it is still recommended to speak to your doctor about nutritional gaps you may have and always take a good prenatal vitamin if you plan to conceive.
What About DHA?
According to the latest research, another essential supplement for before and during pregnancy is DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid.
DHA plays a key role in the development of brain and eye function for baby. Below is taken from Life’s DHA website:
“DHA omega-3 is found throughout the body, but is most abundant in the brain, eyes and heart. In fact, DHA represents about 97% of all omega-3 fats in the brain and 93% of all omega-3 fats in the retina. It is important prenatally and postnatally for optimal infant brain, eye and nervous system development and has been shown to support long-term heart health. Developing infants cannot efficiently produce their own DHA and must obtain this vital nutrient through the placenta during pregnancy and from breast milk after birth. Maternal DHA supplementation during pregnancy and nursing significantly enhances the level of DHA available to the fetus and infant and may improve certain developmental outcomes.
DHA is important throughout pregnancy, particularly in the third trimester when significant brain growth occurs. Maternal DHA supplementation during pregnancy and nursing significantly enhances the level of DHA available to the fetus and infant. Certain studies have shown that maternal DHA supplementation improves infant developmental outcomes, such as:
- Eye-Hand Coordination
- Motor Skills
- Attention Span
Additionally, some research suggests that adequate levels of DHA in the maternal diet may play a role in helping a mother’s emotional well-being after birth.”
A typical diet provides about 25% of the suggested amount of DHA for a pregnant woman. Because of this, a supplement of DHA in a prenatal has become completely necessary.
The Prenatal vitamin I took for both of my pregnancies was excellent but may only be available in Canada. So if you live in Canada, I recommend Platinum Prenatal (enriched with DHA).
Platinum Prenatal has everything you need in a good prenatal and it also has the technology of “omega suspension”, which essentially means it allows for superior absorption of it’s nutrients. It is also GMO free, and all natural, which I like.
I have also heard very good reviews on Nordic Naturals prenatal with DHA. Alternatively, if you have already purchased your prenatal without DHA, a helpful option might be to take a separate DHA supplement.
If you are interested in finding a good prenatal vitamin with DHA, I would recommend going to your doctor and getting a prescription. Or do what I did and go to speak with a Natural Path or consultant at a reputable health store to guide you to the best decision for you.
What are you taking for a prenatal vitamin? Is there one that you swear by? Feel free to share your experience in the comments box below.