Why every woman should be taking a prenatal vitamin

prenatal-vitamin-folate

Are you taking a prenatal vitamin?

I recommend every woman who’s old enough to have her menstrual cycle take a prenatal vitamin daily. I always live by a ‘food first’ philosophy but this is where supplements absolutely have their place. This is especially true for women who are considering starting a family.

Why?

Folate. Low or inadequate intakes of folate in pregnancy is associated with the development of multiple congenital abnormalities and clinical complications. 

  • Spina bifida - the spinal cord failing to close, leaving a gap where spinal fluid collects during pregnancy - can lead to  paralysis below the gap

  • Anencephaly - the absence of a brain or spinal cord

  • Encephalocele - a protrusion of the brain through the skull

While these complications are among the most common abnormalities that exist, they’re also the MOST PREVENTABLE. 

How?

Get enough folate in your diet through BOTH whole food sources and supplements.

I recommend all women take a prenatal with folate because neural tube defects develop just 21 - 27 days after conception. Most women don’t even know they’re pregnant yet. 

What does enough folate look like?

It’s recommended that women consume 600 mcg DFE* of folate per day and 400 mcg folic acid from fortified foods or supplements as well as 200 mcg DFE from fruits and vegetables.

*DFE stands for dietary folate equivalents. One DFE looks like one of the following …

  1. 1mcg food folate

  2. 0.6 mcg folic acid consumed in fortified foods or a supplement taken with food

  3. 0.5 mcg of folic acid taken as a supplement on an empty stomach

I know, that looks super complicated.

Basically it boils down to this:

  1. Take a folic acid supplement on an empty stomach. 

  2. Ensure you’re eating enough foods high in folate (legumes, eggs, leafy greens, brussels sprouts, citrus, asparagus) - there’s no upper limit here so eat up!

  3. Eat some food that’s been fortified with folate (cereals, breads, corn flour, brown rice, oatmeal are typically fortified with folic acid - check the labels!)

Personally, I get my prenatals from Care/of (you’ll get $40 off your first order if you use that link). I’ve extensively researched their practices and policies and feel comfortable getting my supplements from them. If you’re curious as to how legit your supplement company is (they’re NOT federally regulated so it can be hard to know for sure what you’re getting), please reach out. I offer complimentary consultations and would be happy to talk you through your supplements and make sure you’re putting the best things in your body for you and your baby.