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Best Prenatal Multivitamin – What to Look For

prenatal multivitamin

I think I’ve mentioned before that looking at the supplement section of a pharmacy or grocery store overwhelms me. There are SHELVES AND SHELVES of multivitamins, isolated vitamins and minerals, combinations, countless brands, not to mention the ever growing protein powder and meal replacement drinks.

When it comes to pregnancy, things to be kept simple. For heaven’s sake, there’s enough going on in a new mom’s life than to spend a lot of time worrying about whether she’s making a good choice for her prenatal vitamin. For new moms especially, there’s so much information out in cyberspace these days that it can paralyze any level headed woman’s decision making capacity. However, it’s also the BEST time to be a new mom because companies that make prenatal vitamins now have all their nutrition information online, making it easier to do research before you hit the stores.

What To Look For In a Prenatal Multivitamin

As per the Canadian Dietary Reference Intake Table from Health Canada:

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) – The average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98%) healthy individuals in a particular life-stage and gender group. The RDA is the goal for usual intake by an individual.

Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) – The highest average daily nutrient intake level likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in a given life-stage and gender group. The UL is not a recommended level of intake. As intake increases above the UL, the potential risk of adverse effects increases.

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When choosing a prenatal multivitamin, make sure that it meets your pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, or breastfeeding RDA without going over the UL. The following figures are based on females between the ages of 19 to 50 years old.

Folate (Vitamin B9)

Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy 400 mcg 1000 mcg Daily multivitamins usually contain 400 mcg.
During Pregnancy 600 mcg 1000 mcg Most prenatal multivitamins contain 1000 mcg.
Breastfeeding 500 mcg 1000 mcg Upper limit for folate applies to amount taken via supplements and fortified foods only, not folate found naturally in foods. Learn more.

Vitamin D

Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy 600 IU 4000 IU Most adult multivitamins contain 400 to 800 IU.
During Pregnancy 600 IU 4000 IU Most prenatal multivitamins contain 400 IU
Breastfeeding 600 IU 4000 IU There’s about 100 IU of Vitamin D in 1 cup of cow’s milk.

Calcium

Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy 1000 mg 2500 mg Most adult multivitamins contain 175 to 400 mg.
During Pregnancy 1000 mg 2500 mg Most prenatal multivitamins contain 250 mg.
Breastfeeding 1000 mg 2500 mg There’s about 300 mg of Calcium in 1 cup of cow’s milk.

Iron

Life Stage RDA UL Note
Pre-Pregnancy  18 mg  45 mg Most adult multivitamins contain 4-10 mg.
During Pregnancy  27 mg  45 mg Most prenatal multivitamins contain 27 mg.
Breastfeeding  9 mg  45mg Iron may cause constipation and gas. Ask your doctor about alternatives.