Folic acid, a naturally occurring B vitamin, in particular is key in the early days of pregnancy to help the developing fetus’s neural tube, which becomes the brain and spinal cord, to develop properly. Research has found that the nutrient helps to avoid the condition spina bifida, in which a baby’s spinal cord is still exposed when he or she is born, which can lead to paralysis and other health complications. Folic acid is so important during early pregnancy, a time when many women may not even realize they’re pregnant yet, the March of Dimes recommends that all women of childbearing age take at least 400 micrograms daily. So even if you’re just starting to think about having a baby, you may want to talk to your doctor about starting a prenatal or multivitamin now that contains folic acid, as this this is one of the most important nutrients to have in a mother’s system when a baby is conceived. You can also take folic acid, or vitamin B12, separately. We love Standard Process’s Folic Acid B12 supplement, which is all natural and whole-food based.
Also particularly important during pregnancy are omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil. But since prenatal vitamins don’t typically include these essential nutrients, expectant mothers can take DHA supplements (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid) instead of loading up on fish, which can contain harmful pollutants, and obviously doesn’t fit into a strict vegan or vegetarian diet. Research has shown that DHA is important in fetal development and adequate levels may help with cognitive functioning, brain and eye development. Studies have even linked DHA to a lower risk of both pre-term labor and postpartum depression. We like Spectrum brand DHA supplements, which come in prenatal and vegetarian forms. Ask your doctor to help you decide how much DHA you should take while pregnant.
Finally, another supplement you may want to take separately from a standard prenatal vitamin is iron, an ingredient in prenatal vitamins often blamed for the nausea women sometimes experience while taking them. But for vegans and vegetarians who don’t eat red meat, getting enough iron from food sources can be challenging. One way to cut down on the queasiness is to take iron in a liquid supplement form such as Floradix. The formula contains other herbs and can be mixed with juice. Floradix is also great to have on hand after childbirth, to help fight any anemia caused by blood loss and to get you back in fighting shape more quickly.
Rainbow Light Prenatal One
If you start reading reviews online, Rainbow Light’s Prenatal One Multivitamins have plenty of satisfied customers. For starters, you only need to take one pill a day to get what you need while plenty of prenatals must be taken twice a day. Even though the pill contains 30 micrograms of iron, it doesn’t bother most women’s stomachs, which can feel like a miracle. Also inside: 800 mcg folic acid, fresh ginger juice (in dried form), and 25 million bioactive probiotics. The vitamins are 100 percent natural and free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives and other objectionable additives. Vegans rejoice — Rainbow Light carries the Vegan Guard seal on its bottle.
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