Look for: 12 key nutrients
In our opinion, the whole point of a prenatal is to take a lot of the guesswork out of supporting both you and your baby throughout your pregnancy. Your diet is a really important place to start, but the ideal prenatal vitamins will help fill the gaps, since it’s really hard to get everything you need from food alone. According to our research, there are 12 nutrients you should definitely look for in a prenatal multivitamin.
These nutrients help support functions from brain health to DNA synthesis, but there are a few heroes worth calling out here. Omega-3, for example, is a key player in your baby’s developing brain, and choline helps by shuttling DHA across the placenta. Your iodine needs also increase 50% during pregnancy to ensure that your metabolism can support all the growth your body is taking on. So many of us find it tough to get enough vitamin D without supplementation, but research shows that having sufficient levels is a good indicator of birth weight. You’ll find all of those nutrients—plus eight others—in our Essential Prenatal.*
Look for: Ingredients in their absorbable forms
Not all nutrient forms are created equal. It can be tricky for our bodies to make the most of an ingredient, especially when variations in our DNA can come into play.
Want an example? Folate is doctor-recommended for pregnancy, since it helps support neural tube development (particularly in those crucial first weeks after conception).* But many prenatal vitamins offer a synthetic form, folic acid, which isn’t always an ideal form of the nutrient: In fact, roughly 40% of women have a genetic variation that makes it especially tricky to properly utilize folic acid.
MTHF is an ideal form, since it’s a form of folate that’s been shown to be more bioavailable—in other words, your body has to do a lot less work to use and absorb it, even if you have that MTHFR gene variation. And that's the form of folate that we use in our Essential Prenatal.*
Look for: uh…nothing else
It might sound crazy, but what’s not in your prenatal multivitamin is almost as important as what is. For starters, you’ll want to ensure that you’re not overdoing it on unnecessary nutrients or nutrient dosages—nutrient overflow is definitely a thing, and getting too much of one thing can mess with the absorption of another. That’s why we recommend looking for the 12 nutrients mentioned above, which can help fill the gaps in your diet.*
Something else to skip? Weird additives that have no place in your multivitamin. While we believe that you always have the right to know what you’re putting in your body, when you’re growing a human, it feels that much more important—and that means avoiding shady things like colorants, mystery filler ingredients, and common allergens. And if you're vegan, you should never have to compromise on your prenatal. (For the record, our Essential Prenatal is vegan-certified and gluten-free.)
The bottom line: There's a lot to consider at the start of your pregnancy, so we recommend choosing a prenatal multivitamin that will help do a lot of the heavy-lifting for you.