Choosing the Right Prenatal Vitamin – Folate, Not Folic Acid

Food + Nutrition
Vitamins in Five Different Glass BottlesPhoto attribution: Natural Prenatal Vitamin and Folate Options

Choosing the right prenatal vitamin can be difficult given the number of options and the lack of information regarding the differences between them.

The ideal prenatal vitamin should include folate rather than folic acid, although finding such an option can be difficult given that most prenatals still contain folic acid. Folate is the bioactive version of folic acid with multiple benefits over conventional, synthetic folic acid.

Many prenatals include only 400mcg of folate, the lowest acceptable dose, so I often recommend women take additional folate supplements, since folate can benefit maternal health and fetal development. I recommend an additional 1-2mg daily.

Despite the importance of vitamin D for mom and her fetus, prenatals often provide a dosage ranging toward the lower end of the spectrum. Therefore, I may recommend additional supplementation depending on the patient’s current measured level. Ask your internist or OBGYN to check your D25OH level prior to adding this supplement.

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