Folic acid, or folate, is a B vitamin that is critical to a healthy pregnancy. “It helps prevent brain and spinal cord defects in the Had it beat it survivor shirt Furthermore, I will do this baby, known as neural tube defects,” explains Marlowe, adding that when it’s found in food, it is called folate, but in supplements, it will be listed as folic acid, the man-made form. She highlights that because of its importance, and the fact that not everyone gets enough from their diet, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends all women to take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, but the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) advise increasing this amount to 600 micrograms, the amount found in most prenatals. “Iron supports the development of the placenta and fetus, and also prevents anemia in mom,” says Marlowe. According to ACOG, pregnant women need 27 milligrams of iron a day, which is double the amount normally needed. She stresses that it is best get iron from food sources, such as eat, poultry, fish, beans and peas, tofu, dark leafy green veggies. “When consuming plant-based iron-rich foods, consume them with a vitamin C–rich food (such as bell peppers or citrus), to increase iron-absorption,” she adds. Because high intake of iron supplements is harmful, she recommends consulting a doctor before supplementing. “Calcium is used to build a baby’s bones and teeth,” says Marlowe. “If mom is not consuming enough during pregnancy, the mineral will be drawn from her own stores in her bones to provide for her baby. It’s important to get adequate calcium, as well as complementary bone-building nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin K, and magnesium.” The recommended daily amount is 1,000 mg daily, and the best way to incorporate it into your diet is with dark leafy greens, which are excellent bone-building foods as they are generally a source of calcium, Vitamin K, and magnesium, says MarloVitamin D supplementation during pregnancy has been shown to reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, low birthweight, and preterm birth. “All women, pregnant or not, should aim to get 600 IU of Vitamin D daily,” says Marlowe, adding that it’s called the “sunshine vitamin” as our bodies makes it when exposed to the sun. “Choline aids in your baby’s brain development and may help prevent certain birth defects,” says Marlowe. The ACOG recommends that pregnant women get 450 mg of choline each day, up from 425 mg for women who are not pregnant. “It’s important to get choline through food, as most prenatals don’t contain choline, or only contain a small amount of it,” she says, name-checking shiitake mushrooms, beans, eggs, chicken, meat, fish, soy, cauliflower, broccoli, and peanuts as robust sources.: “Omega-3 is important for reducing inflammation in mom and aiding a baby’s brain development,” explains Marlowe. Whether pregnant or not, omega-3 is a critical nutrient, yet common deficiency as it’s found in a limited number of foods—mostly certain types of seafood and nuts and seeds, such as wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.If you choose to take a prenatal vitamin to help supplement deficiencies in your diet, a good rule of thumb for when to begin is the earlier, the better. “Prenatal vitamins are an important part of pregnancy and are best when done preconception as it will already be on board for critical changes early in pregnancy like organ development, which starts as early as 6 weeks,” explains Shepherd. “So typically, it’s best to do so as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.” To ensure you’re taking the right dosage, closely follow directions and the recommended daily requirement listed.
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“Vitamins are essential nutrients that keep the Had it beat it survivor shirt Furthermore, I will do this body healthy, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing,” cautions Shepherd, who recommends that her patients consult with their doctor and purchase supplements from a reputable source—not all supplements are created equal, after all. DuBoise’s motivation to make a clean prenatal vitamin was driven by the fact that the supplement industry is largely unregulated, and it’s possible that common vitamins on the market can contain cheap, toxic fillers and are manufactured with chemical solvents. “It’s terrifying for the average person, but even scarier while pregnant!” says DuBoise. The bottom line is: Before you take any prenatal supplements, discuss them with your doctor, and do your researchFirst, it must be repeated that diet should be the primary source of nutrients and prioritized as such. “Healthy whole foods like vegetables and fruit contain much more than just the common vitamins and minerals we all know about,” explains Marlowe. “They also contain powerful antioxidants and beneficial phytochemicals that work synergistically to support our health, as well as fiber which aids digestion.” Additionally, keeping blood sugar stable is especially important during pregnancy. “Nausea can be caused by low blood sugar, so protein, whether organic animal protein or plant-based, is important,” says Marlowe. “Make sure you have enough, especially at night, to help balance blood sugar.”Alongside with nutrition, it is important to develop a regular exercise routine throughout your pregnancy. “Exercise encourages good cardiovascular health and can aid in the labor and delivery process,” says Shepherd. “A few types of exercise I love for my pregnant mamas are walking, prenatal yoga, and low impact strength training.” But remember: no fuel equals no energy. “One of the best ways to make exercising during pregnancy possible is making sure to fuel your body with the appropriate nutrients!” says Shepherd. The bottom line is that no prenatal vitamin will compensate for a poor diet, inadequate sleep, not getting enough exercise, and high levels of stress. During pregnancy, prenatal vitamins should be part of a 360-degree approach to well-being for mother and child, and are best taken under the supervision of a doctor with science-backed ingredients.Wellness brand Sakara has made its foray into the maternal health space with The Foundation: Prenatal, a dedicated array of daily supplement packs that supply the right nutrients and dosages over the course of pregnancy. For the first month of sales, Sakara will be donating $5 from every purchase to maternal health organization Every Mother Counts.The latest maternal supplement brand to go to market, Perelel is ob-gyn-founded, direct-to-consumer, and taking a bespoke approach to each unique phase of pregnancy with supplements tailored to preconception, the first, second, and third trimesters, and postpartum.With its holistic, scientifically-backed principles, Needed offers a special Prenatal Multi formula in a delicious, mix-right-into-your-smoothie vanilla powder packed with 24 different vitamins and minerals.Los Angeles–based vitamin company Ritual, which continues to be a disrupter in the market, has officially entered the prenatal game with its Essential Prenatal, which is supercharged with 12 key nutrients for neural tube support, brain health, blood building, and bone support.Formulated with a board of medical advisors, Premama offers a robust lineup of prenatal offerings, providing key nutrients, as well as morning sickness, fatigue, and relief pain, in capsule, gummies, and drink-mix form.After working for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Motiva founder Tonya Lewis Lee sought to create a line of inside-out health supplements. The brand’s all-natural, vegetable-based prenatal is designed with both the mother-to-be and baby in mind, featuring vital minerals such as iron, calcium, and vitamin D.Designed for preconception, prenatal, and postpartum, Goop Wellness’s The Mother Load is a vitamin and supplement range regimen that helps build and replenish nutrient reserves. Pregnancy super-nutrients include calcium, choline, and omega-3 fatty acids.