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What to Look for in a Prenatal Supplement, According to an MD

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Well+Good EditorsApril 21, 2020

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As soon as you (or your BFF) find out you’re expecting, you start making nonstop lists of all the things you can, can’t, and should start doing now that there’s a little one on the way.

A prenatal supplement feels like a natural addition to the top of your must-add-ASAP list, but do you actually know what to look for in a prenatal vitamin? If you do a little digging into what’s inside your supplement, you can better ensure you’re gaining max benefits for you and your baby.

“When you’re trying to conceive or if you’re pregnant, it’s important to look closely at all prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as dietary supplements you’re taking,” says Tieraona Low Dog, MD, chief medical advisor for MegaFood®. “There are key nutrients that become crucially important for your health and the baby’s, like folate, choline, iodine, and others.”* (More on these special ingredients later.)

Combining those key nutrients into one supplement (like MegaFood Baby & Me 2) is why prenatals are so handy—because you have enough to remember while prepping for another person to join your family. “MegaFood uses real food plus added nutrients to meet the nutritional needs of women during pregnancy,”* Dr. Low Dog says. Plus, MegaFood offers supplements that are non-GMO Project Verified, vegetarian, tested for over 125 herbicides and pesticides, and are gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free. Hit pause on your list-making for a sec—you’ll want to pay attention to this.

Keep scrolling to find out what to look for in a prenatal vitamin and how these ingredients work to support your (and your baby’s) health.*

Folate

Here’s a little fun fact about folate: It comes in active and inactive forms. The active form of folate is methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), but not all women have the genes to fully convert folate into the active form, according to Dr. Low Dog.

The solution? Making sure that your prenatal supplement includes 5-MTHF so that your body can help put it into action to support your baby’s growth.* MegaFood Baby & Me 2 contains 600 micrograms of 5-MTHF, which is the amount Dr. Low Dog recommends getting from a supplement. Folate? Check.

Choline

Surveys show that more than 90 percent of pregnant women don’t receive an adequate amount of choline, which is 450 milligrams per day when you’re pregnant and 550 milligrams during lactation, according to Dr. Low Dog. “Choline may be most important during pregnancy and infancy,”* she says. “Research shows that choline helps support the health of moms and developing babies.”* 

Iodine

While you might not be deficient in iodine pre-pregnancy, once you are pregnant, you’ll need to increase your iodine intake by 50 percent so that you produce enough thyroid hormones to meet both your and your baby’s needs.* “The American Thyroid Association guidelines recommend all prenatal vitamins provide 150 micrograms of iodine per day,” Dr. Low Dog says.

Iron

ICYMI, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide—making it even more important to up your dose while pregnant. “The risk for low iron increases as a woman’s blood volume increases as pregnancy advances,” Dr. Low Dog says. MegaFood Baby & Me 2 contains 18 milligrams of iron for healthy red blood cell production.*

Vitamin D

Other than helping to boost your good mood, vitamin D plays a role in bone, muscle, nerve, and cellular health,* Dr. Low Dog says. “Since vitamin D can be difficult to get in the diet, it must be obtained via sensible sun exposure and/or through supplementation.” When you’re on the hunt for a prenatal that includes vitamin D, Dr. Low Dog suggests opting for one that contains at least 600 IUs (or international units, which measure potency).

Congrats—now that you can confidently cross “pick a prenatal” off your list, you can take a break from list-making and start enjoying all the exciting parts of pregnancy instead.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Sponsored by MegaFood

Top photo: Stocksy/LUMINA

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