6 On Your Side: How to Choose Prenatal Vitamins

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(ABC 6 News) – There are a million things to worry about when pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

One of the most important is making sure you are getting the proper nutrients.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to prenatal supplements.

Consumer Reports breaks down what’s inside the bottles so you can purchase the right one for you.

“I started taking prenatal vitamins when I was trying to get pregnant,” say expectant parent Taylor Frost-Smith. She is following doctor’s orders, taking a prenatal before and during pregnancy.

Hers is high in folic acid. “I don’t get enough folic acid in my diet. I just don’t eat enough fish and spinach. So I hope my prenatal makes up for that,” says Frost-Smith.

It’s often tough to get large amounts of micronutrients a pregnant person needs from diet alone. That’s why prenatal supplements are critical.

But which nutrients are most important and how do you know a supplement is safe?

“Almost all prenatal supplements include an adequate amount of folic acid, but when it comes to other micronutrients, many of the supplements available at your local drugstore have lackluster formulations,” says Consumer Reports’ Angela Lashbrook.

Though most people will get some of the nutrients they need from foods, many prenatal supplements on the market don’t meet the recommended micronutrient levels endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

For example, take Calcium.

Consumer Reports looked at 15 popular brands. 10 have calcium, but not enough. Five don’t have it all!

And when it comes to safety, supplements don’t undergo the same strict scrutiny as prescription drugs.

What about the price? Do you get what you pay for?

Not always. CR experts found some of the pricer prenatals lack nutrients the cheaper pills have.

For instance, Nature Made Prenatal Multivitamin Folic Acid + DHA Softgels has most of the recommended amounts of nutrients, and it’s less than one dollar per dose, whereas some prenatals cost nearly two dollars per dose!

“Prioritize those micronutrients that ACOG says you need, as well as any that your doctor says you may be deficient in,” says Lashbrook.

As with any medication or supplement, be sure to talk with your OB-GYN or midwife before you start taking it.