How to Choose a Prenatal and Postnatal Vitamin

Selecting a prenatal and postnatal vitamin is truly a feat these days. Not only do your friends, family, and total strangers have suggestions for you, but even your social media won’t stop bombarding you with targeted ads about the latest and greatest vitamin on the market. Hopefully, this article can help you navigate the endless onslaught of information by giving you the tools necessary to make a decision for yourself. And making the decision yourself is crucial because your preferences and eating beliefs are important and valid.

Choosing your Prenatal Vitamin
First, your prenatal should have 100% of your daily needs of iron, vitamin B-12, and folic acid (aka vitamin B-9 or folate). Your need for these key vitamins and minerals increases during pregnancy and it is difficult to meet those needs through diet alone. All three are important in carrying oxygen to your baby, preventing anemia, and DNA synthesis. I also recommend finding a prenatal that contains DHA, an essential fatty acid that helps develop your baby’s brain and eyes.

There has been a popular conversation regarding the forms of vitamins that we take and their bioavailability (the ability to be utilized by our bodies and not simply eliminated). The conversation on vitamin forms is dominated by talk of the MTHFR gene, which hopefully I can clear up. Essentially, there is a gene variation the approximately 40% of women have that makes the last step of breaking folic acid down into a form that is bioavailable difficult or impossible. Our bodies need to be able to break folic acid down to L-methylfolate to be able to use it. So an approach to alleviate the problem is to just put 100% of your daily needs of L-methylfolate in prenatals and skip the breakdown process altogether.

After ensuring that those three (really four if you’re asking me personally) vitamins and minerals are present in your prenatal supplement, you can start considering other aspects. Do you want your vitamin to be organic, vegetarian, or vegan? Gummy or pill? You should know before choosing gummy that you will probably have to take an iron supplement alongside the gummy.

As a final sentiment, as people who are usually more involved in the postpartum side of things with breastfeeding support, keep taking your prenatals! At least until you stop breastfeeding. Please don’t hesitate to shoot us an email or contact us on Facebook if you have questions or need a recommendation.

If you do not even know where to begin, here are some prenatal vitamins we recommend!

Recommended Prenatal and Postnatal Vitamins:

Bentley S, Hermes A, Phillips D, et al. Comparative effectiveness of a prenatal medical food to prenatal vitamins on hemoglobin levels and adverse outcomes: a retrospective analysis. Clin Ther. 2011;33:204–210.

Greenberg J and Bell S. Multivitamin Supplementation During Pregnancy: Emphasis on Folic
Acid and L-Methylfolate. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2011;4(3-4);126-127