The Importance of a Prenatal Multivitamin
By Rhianna Ross, RHN
What is a Prenatal Vitamin?
A prenatal vitamin is a multivitamin formulated with the needs of a pregnant woman and her growing baby in mind. Pregnancy demands a lot of a woman’s body and additional nutrients are needed to ensure a healthy pregnancy and proper development.
Why a Prenatal is Important
Nutritional needs increase during pregnancy. Proper nutrition during pregnancy can greatly impact the health of both mom and baby, and affect pregnancy outcomes. Taking a prenatal is a simple way to help support increased nutritional needs.
Optimal nutrient levels help to ensure baby develops properly and reduce the risks of complications. But getting enough of what the body needs also helps to support mom during and after pregnancy. The body will prioritize the growing baby and will take away from mom. This can lead to health issues during and after pregnancy, such as anemia, poor bone health, and increased risks during pregnancy that could be dangerous for mom, such as pre-eclampsia.
Diet is Still Key
While supplementation is important during pregnancy to ensure you are filling any nutritional gaps, nothing can replace a healthy and varied diet. An emphasis on vegetables, fruit, protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats is ideal. Keep processed, fried, and high sugar foods to a minimum before and during pregnancy.
When to Start a Prenatal
The importance of a healthy diet and proper nutrient levels BEFORE becoming pregnant cannot be overstated. It is very hard to correct nutrient deficiencies such as iron deficiency anemia once pregnant.
The neural tube, which will develop into the baby’s central nervous system and skull, forms in the first month of pregnancy. For this reason, it is recommended that women start taking a prenatal at least 3 months before becoming pregnant.
The nutrient status at conception will help or hinder the development of baby as well as the health of mom.
Of course, surprises happen, and it is not always possible to prepare in advance, but it is important to start supporting a pregnancy with proper nutrition as soon as mom can.
Have You Been on the Pill?
Did you know that certain medications, including the contraceptive pill, can reduce your nutrient absorption and lead to nutrient deficiencies?
Women who are on the pill can help to protect themselves by taking a multivitamin and if possible, should give themselves time once off the pill to supplement and correct any potential deficiencies.
The pill can deplete vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, vitamins C and E, as well as the minerals magnesium, selenium, and zinc. While this is concerning for all women on the pill, it is especially so for women who wish to become pregnant shortly after coming off the pill.
To help compensate for deficiencies caused by the pill, all women using it should be taking a multivitamin.
Did You Know?
The birth control pill can cause deficiencies in important vitamins and minerals.
What to Look For
Your prenatal should contain the following important nutrients:
Needed for red blood cell production, the transport of oxygen to the cells, involved in the development of the nervous system (brain, spinal cord, nerves). Read more about the importance of iron. Women who are deficient or anemic require more. Work with your health care practitioner to access the right dose for you.
Iron sources: Fish and shellfish, animal proteins, lentils, legumes, leafy greens.
Folic Acid (B9)
Crucial for the development of the nervous system, red blood cell production. Helps to prevent birth defects.
Folic acid food sources: Beans and legumes; dark leafy greens such as kale, arugula, and spinach; beets; asparagus; and eggs.
Vitamins B6 and B12
B6 and B12 are both needed for the development of the nervous system and brain. B12 in combination with folic acid helps to prevent birth defects of the central nervous system.
B6 food sources: Salmon, eggs, chicken liver, carrots, spinach, sweet potato, green peas, bananas, chickpeas, avocado.
B12 food sources: Clams, sardines, beef, nutritional yeast, trout, eggs, dairy.
Used in the production of collagen which is used to make bones, tendons, and skin. Vitamin C is also important for immune function.
Vitamin C food sources: Sweet peppers, parsley, spinach, kale, kiwi, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, oranges.
Needed for strong bones and teeth. Deficiency can increase the risk of pregnancy complications.
A supplement is an excellent way to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D.
Avoid vitamin D2, which is sourced from yeast fermentation. Like the D2 found in foods, D2 supplements do not raise vitamin D levels as well as D3.
D3 supplements are sourced from either sheep’s wool (lanolin) or lichen. If you are vegan, lichen will be the source you will want to opt for.
Vitamin D food sources: The sun; oily fish like mackerel, herring, salmon, and sardines; red meat; eggs; and fortified foods.
Needed for bone health of both mom and baby. Deficiencies in bone-building nutrients during pregnancy can harm mother’s bone health.
Calcium food sources: Seeds; canned fish with edible bones such as sardines and salmon; yogurt.
DHA and EPA: These two omega-3 fatty acids are very important as it is very difficult for the body to convert enough without supplementing or increasing intake of fish. DHA/EPA are needed for proper brain and eye formation.
CoQ10: For women over 35, CoQ10 shows promise in helping egg quality.
The non-medicinal ingredients in any supplement are important to consider. Not all additional ingredients are created equal. Many brands on the market use poor quality fillers, binders, colourings, and flowing agents that should be avoided. The non-medicinal ingredients in two popular brands are listed below as an example.
When and How to Take a Prenatal
Take your prenatal with food and water. If you experience morning sickness, take away from when you usually feel nauseous if possible.
Continue to take your prenatal until you finish breastfeeding as you will still need additional nutrients.
Prenatal+ Multivitamin for Women
With Iron and Algae DHA
Growing a human is a lot of work and women need extra nutrients before, during, and after pregnancy. It can be hard to get everything you need from food alone.
KidStar’s Prenatal+ Multivitamin for Women is a vegetarian prenatal multivitamin that helps support the nutritional needs of soon-to-be-pregnant, pregnant, and breastfeeding women, as well as their developing babies. Prenatal+ can also be used as a daily multivitamin for all women.
Like all KidStar nutrients, Prenatal+ is free from harmful fillers, colours, sweeteners, and flavours.
Find Supporting Supplements Here
Gentle, delicious, iron liquid formula for the whole family.
BioFe+® Iron Liquid for the Family
A high-DHA formula with added vitamin D3 in a yummy lemon blueberry chewable softgel.
Omega 3 DHA + Vitamin D3
A vegetarian prenatal multivitamin for preconception, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
Prenatal+™ Multivitamin for Women
About the Author
Rhianna Ross, R.H.N., is a registered holistic nutritionist based in Vancouver, BC. Rhianna has more than a decade of experience in the natural health and wellness industry, and currently works at KidStar Nutrients, where she enjoys reviewing and analyzing the latest nutritional research papers, meta-analyses, and journal articles.