- While it's technically possible to get all the nutrients you need for pregnancy from your diet, most of us don't. That's why doctors and scientists recommend supplementing with a prenatal vitamin.
- There are a handful of specific nutrients that support different areas of your baby's development, and others that fill nutrition gaps whether you're pregnant or not.
Hey there—we’re Ritual, a health company on a mission to inspire women to be their best from the inside out. Learn more about our reinvented multivitamins, which we formulated with essential nutrients to help fill the gaps in your diet.
If you find pregnancy as confusing as it is exciting, you’re definitely not alone. Even if you’re getting plenty of insight from your doc, you probably still have questions about all the changes happening in your body, the development of your baby, and what to expect down the line. We get it—it’s a lot!
But we also think that one thing you should never have to question is your prenatal vitamin. In fact, the right one should take a lot of the guesswork out of supporting your pregnancy nutritional needs. That’s one less thing to worry about during this chaotic time.
So what nutrients do you actually need from a prenatal? We’ve done the research—keep reading to see what we’ve found.
But first, a quick refresher on why you need a prenatal in the first place.
Scientists and ob-gyns alike agree that a prenatal is a must for a few reasons: namely, that while it’s technically possible to get all the nutrients needed for both you and baby through diet alone, in can be difficult to actually do so. So it’s important to help fill those nutritional gaps with a prenatal vitamin, so that you’re supporting the development of your baby from conception to pregnancy and beyond. (Seriously: The nutrients you’re delivering to your baby will impact his or her health well after you’ve given birth.)
That said, we advise starting a prenatal even when you’re just thinking about getting pregnant—to get specific, three months before conception is a good timeline to shoot for, even if you’re still on birth control.
The nutrients you should look for in a prenatal, and why:
Folate. Because it aids with many different important processes in the body, folate is a must-have for pregnant and non-pregnant women alike. But when you’re expecting, your growing baby needs it too—it’s crucial for supporting neural tube development, as well as DNA synthesis.
The trick is to be wary of folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate: It’s found in many supplements, but it needs the help of enzymes to convert to MTHF, which is the form your body uses. But the problem is that up to 40% of women have gene variations that make it difficult to carry out this extra step. That’s why it’s wise to look for a vitamin with ready-to-use MTHF, like our Essential Prenatal.*
Omega-3. Did you know that DHA is an important component of your developing baby’s brain? Of the three different omega-3 fatty acids, we like to zero-in on DHA, specifically since it’s such a supporter of brain, heart, and prenatal health (and heavily backed by research). DHA is found in foods like salmon, shellfish, and tuna, so if you’re vegetarian, that can be a problem. Our advice? Look for a prenatal that sources its Omega-3 with DHA from algae.