There is no more crucial time to receive the right nutrition than when you are supporting two people at once. Taking a prenatal vitamin is a great choice for providing health benefits for you and your baby. Pregnancy can provide a lot of stress, as you want to be sure you are doing the best you can to support the health and development of your baby.
Choosing the right prenatal vitamin can go a long way toward offering some peace of mind. If you are looking for a vegan prenatal vitamin, it may be tough to find one that has all of the nutrients you are looking for — without animal products.
Fortunately, there are still great options available. By keeping an eye out for a few critical ingredients, you can be on your way to choosing a vegan prenatal vitamin that will provide you and your baby with the nutrients you need.
What Nutrient Is Most Common in Prenatal Vitamins?
When comparing options for prenatal vitamins, you are likely to repeatedly come across omega-3 fatty acids as a common, significant nutrient on the ingredient labels. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats that make up cell membranes and tissues throughout the body.
Because they are so abundant in the body, it is important to receive a healthy amount of fatty acids through diet or supplementation, especially during pregnancy. A sufficient intake of omega-3 fatty acids helps maintain the health of many systems in the body.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is technically an omega-3 precursor
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
All three of these nutrients are necessary for your body, but they are not equally simple to obtain. ALA is considered an essential fat because your body is not able to produce the nutrient on its own. ALA is the most abundant omega-3 fat in a standard western diet since it is found in many foods, like nuts, seeds, and plant oils. Because of this, ALA does not require supplementation.
EPA and DHA are less common but are easily found in fish, fish oil, and other types of seafood. The body can produce EPA using ALA and can then use EPA to produce DHA, but only a very small percentage of ALA can be converted into EPA. Since your body is not able to produce large amounts of EPA or DHA, it is crucial to incorporate sources of these two fatty acids into your diet or supplement routine.
What Should I Look for in a Vegan Prenatal Vitamin?
When looking for a prenatal vitamin, there is a lot to consider, from the nutrients it contains to how well your body will be able to access those nutrients. It may take a bit of additional research, but with the right amount of effort, you can find a vitamin that will provide you with all the nutrients you and your baby need. The following are the five things you should look for in a vegan prenatal vitamin.
1. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
DHA is one of the three most common omega-3 fatty acids. This fatty acid is one of the most vital nutrients for supporting a healthy pregnancy, as DHA can help support healthy brain development in the baby.
Omega-3s are the building blocks of many cells in the body, and DHA is found abundantly in the eyes. As a result, including DHA as part of a supplement during pregnancy can also help support the healthy development of a baby’s eyes. Because of its many benefits during fetal development, you should make sure to incorporate this nutrient during your pregnancy.
The body can convert this fatty acid from EPA, but not in large amounts. As a result, you need to obtain DHA from either supplementation or directly from your diet to maintain recommended levels of the nutrient. Unfortunately, DHA is most often found in fish, so you should look out for fish products in any prenatal vitamin you consider to ensure that you choose a vitamin that is vegan.
2. Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
During pregnancy, DHA offers several benefits for supporting the health and development of the baby. However, the health of the mother is just as important. A prenatal vitamin should also include a healthy amount of EPA omega-3s, thanks to their long list of potential benefits for one’s health and well-being.
EPA is associated with several health benefits. Most notably, it can help support healthy blood pressure and an overall healthy heart. Pregnancy can also be a stressful time for a variety of reasons. Although it cannot provide a cure for your stress, EPA has been shown to support emotional wellness.
3. Zero Fish
This point deserves plenty of emphasis — and its own section!
It is well-accepted that omega-3s make a significant and beneficial addition to any prenatal vitamin, but most sources of omega-3s are not plant-based. Although many plant-based sources of omega-3 are rich in ALA, there are few that provide both DHA and EPA.
DHA and EPA are most often found together in fish, and in few other sources, so a prenatal vitamin should contain adequate amounts of both. The most common fish sources of fatty acids include anchovies, mackerel, and salmon. A common ingredient in supplements is fish oil. Look out for all of these names and products as you start the vitamin shopping process.
If you are on the hunt for a vegan prenatal vitamin, you should check labels twice to make sure they do not contain any fish or fish oils. Fish are often seen as the best source for omega-3s, but there are other options. If you are looking for a plant-based supplement that avoids fish altogether, then consider an algae-based supplement.
Algae is rich in both DHA and EPA omega-3s. Fish maintain their high omega-3 levels through algae intake — you can do the same.
4. Absorption Capability
Your prenatal vitamin can be packed with great omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, but it will not matter at all if your body does not actually absorb any of the nutrients. You are missing out on a large portion of the potential benefits when you take a vitamin that does not have bioavailable nutrients (meaning nutrients that your body can easily access and absorb).
Therefore, when choosing a supplement, you should consider whether the nutrients are easily absorbed by the body for maximum potential. For example, omega-3s make an excellent addition to a prenatal supplement, but some are more easily absorbed than others.
Omega-3 fatty acids from algae-based supplements are absorbed by the body more quickly than those from fish sources. When choosing an algae-based supplement, you can trust that you are maximizing the number of nutrients that you receive and that the ingredients on the label are not just for show.
5. Included Nutrients
Omega-3s are an undoubtedly important ingredient in any prenatal vitamin, but a wide variety of other nutrients support a healthy pregnancy. During pregnancy, the body undergoes many changes, providing a new baby with nutrients and supporting growth.
All of this change and effort can take its toll, so it is important to receive a diverse set of nutrients to support the health of the mother and the child. As you search for a vitamin, be sure to choose one that includes many important vitamins and minerals you will need.
At iwi life, our prenatal multivitamin incorporates many excellent nutrients to support the healthy development of your baby. These vitamins include methyl folate, vitamin D3, iron, and vitamin K2 among many others. Each of these vitamins also provides its own list of benefits during pregnancy.
Methyl folate helps support the normal development of the fetus throughout pregnancy. Vitamin D helps support the mother’s immune health and bone strength and can play a key role in supporting healthy bone development in the child. Iron helps support healthy levels of the mineral in the blood and promotes healthy production of extra blood for the baby. A woman’s blood volume nearly doubles during pregnancy, so iron is an obvious choice to support all those additional red blood cells. Similarly, vitamin K supports healthy blood flow. Of course, these nutrients are just part of the many that support a healthy pregnancy.
Other vital nutrients in our prenatal vitamin are:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B12
- Omega-6 fatty acids
End Your Search for a Vegan Prenatal Vitamin
Choosing the right prenatal vitamin can be stressful, and it is entirely understandable. You want to do all you can to ensure that you and your baby remain healthy during this crucial time. Thankfully, by knowing what to look for and keeping an eye out for a few key ingredients, you can find a vitamin that will give you and your baby what you need. If you want to avoid the stress of finding a vegan supplement that packs in a ton of nutrients, look no further than iwi life’s Prenatal multivitamin.
iwi life makes a variety of entirely plant-based, sustainably sourced omega-3 supplements, including ones that can help support a healthy pregnancy. Try our Prenatal multivitamin complete with omega-3 fatty acids and other great nutrients that support your health and the healthy development of your baby.
Marine Omega-3 (N-3) Fatty Acids for Cardiovascular Health: An Update for 2020 | PMC
Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids | NCBI
Folate and Folic Acid in Pregnancy | American Pregnancy