With so many different brands and types of over-the-counter prenatal vitamins on the market, it can be difficult to choose one over another. Natural prenatal vitamins usually do not contain unnecessary additives and can often be found in organic varieties. In order to choose the best natural prenatal vitamins, it is important to consider the essential nutrients, the form of the vitamin, the included herbal ingredients, and the price. High quality natural prenatal vitamins will have the recommended amounts of folic acid, calcium, and iron. They should be easy to swallow, contain pregnancy-friendly herbs like red raspberry leaf, and be reasonably priced.
Prenatal vitamins should contain folate, the most important component of prenatal nutrition, which prevents neural tube defects in growing babies. Calcium is also an essential nutrient that should feature prominently in the ingredient list because it helps the fetus build bones and supports the circulatory system of both mother and child. During pregnancy, the body produces up to 50% more blood, which is why the iron found in natural prenatal vitamins is important to fight anemia and low birth weight. The best natural prenatal vitamins will contain these three nutrients in doctor-recommended amounts in addition to other nutrients like vitamin E, vitamin B, vitamin C and zinc. Be sure that the supplement does not contain too much vitamin A or betacarotene, as high doses of this nutrient could cause fetal poisoning and other complications.
If it is not easy to take or easily absorbable, a natural prenatal vitamin will have no benefit for the mother or child. Early pregnancy nausea might make swallowing a single-serving pill difficult, so a smaller pill taken two or three times a day might be better. Also, liquid vitamins are very absorbable, but the flavor might not be compatible with pregnancy tastes. Chewable tablet forms might be more palatable if the powdery texture does not trigger the gag reflex. Generally, a vegetarian capsule that is small enough to swallow easily will work best as these have very little taste.
Many natural prenatal vitamins on the market contain “helping herbs” that can ease pregnancy symptoms while delivering essential nutrients. Ginger can be found in some vitamin varieties and is often thought to reduce or soothe nausea. Another beneficial pregnancy herb is red raspberry leaf, which can also be found in teas. This herb is thought to help tone and strengthen the uterine walls and pelvic muscles, making labor easier. It is important, however, to make sure there are no unnecessary preservatives, additives or sugars on the ingredient list.
In order to deliver the most benefit, doctors recommend that prenatal vitamins should be taken at least two to three months before becoming pregnant and until baby is weaned if breastfeeding. For this reason, the best natural prenatal vitamin needs to be reasonably priced and manufactured by a reputable company. If the ingredient list and nutrient percentages are identical between two brands of natural prenatal vitamin, then the most cost effective option is the best choice.