pregnant woman

What you need to know about your prenatal vitamin!

Pregnancy is a nutritionally demanding time, requiring increased levels of nutrients in order to support yourself and your growing baby. Below is an outline of some things to look for in a preconception multi-vitamin:

Look for the inclusion of :


  • This nutrient supports foetal growth, memory, vision, and development. It has been found to help improve your child’s performance in tasks as they develop
  • Over the counter pre-natal’s tend to not contain any choline, meaning they are not a comprehensive formula to support pregnancy.
  • The practitioner only pre-natal supplements we recommend contain choline, resulting in a more nutrient rich formula. For some people adding in an extra choline supplement (especially if you’re vegan/vegetarian) is really important to ensure adequate levels are maintained


  • Most people know folate is important for preventing neural tube defects and supporting the development of the spinal cord. It is also important for egg and sperm DNA production, egg maturation, implantation, placental health, nervous system support and red blood cell formation.
  • There are various forms of folate in supplements and some are better than others.
  • Folic acid is a synthetic form that is often not absorbed well by lots of people
  • The forms of folate that are said to be superior due to their absorbability are; folinic acid, metafolin, levomefolic acid, 5-methyl-tetrahydrofolate, quatrefolic, or levomefolate calcium. Does your multi contain an activated form of folate?
  • A MTHFR gene mutation can be present. This mutation not only increases the demand for folate but those with this gene have a harder time converting folic acid to the usable/active form of folate. This is another reason to choose a supplement with the active forms of folate.
  • Ensuring adequate folate consumption and supplementation in women over 35 years is essential to support a healthy pregnancy – book in a consult with Monique or Candace and we can recommend a formula with the preferred, most utilised form of folate for you


  • High doses of iron can be detrimental to your health. Did you know your body finds it difficult to absorb more than 50mg of iron at a time? Therefore if your supplement contains 50mg or more of iron you’re likely to not absorb most of this iron.
  • High doses of poor forms of iron such as ferrous oxide or ferrous sulphate increase the risk of side effects such as black stools, constipation, and digestive upset.
  • During pregnancy your digestive system slows down the absorption of food, meaning your bowel motions tend to be less frequent and you may suffer from constipation. This is an awesome change as it is ensures you’re absorbing as many nutrients as possible from your food. However, it also means pregnant people are more likely to be constipated. Hence, why it is important to choose supplements that decrease the risk of constipation and digestive upset.
  • Pregnancy is an iron demanding time. Your pregnancy multi may not have enough iron to prevent a deficiency. We would be reviewing your blood test results and determining whether your multi contains enough iron. If not, we will recommend an additional iron supplement. Speak with one of the naturopath’s at NNT. 


  • Zinc is best absorbed as an amino acid chelate, zinc picolinate, zinc citrate or zinc bis-glycinate.
  • Zinc oxide is poorly absorbed and is the cheapest form, often used in most pre-natal supplements at the chemist.
  • Ensuring we have adequate zinc during pregnancy is vital for DNA replication, skin health, growth, hormone development, hair and immunity.


  • This nutrient is super important for a healthy stress response and bone and muscle development
  • Choosing a magnesium glycinate or citrate can enhance absorption rates and reduces side effects.
  • Avoid magnesium oxide as it is poorly absorbed and can have laxative effects

Vitamin D

  • Most pre-natal’s do not contain an adequate amount of vitamin D to support pregnancy. Due to sun protection and the location of the sun during winter, most Victorians are deficient in vitamin D.
  • Dosages of 1000IU or more (depending on your vitamin D levels) are needed to support bone health, immunity, mood, brain health and development in both you and your child.
  • Speak with one of the naturopath’s at NNT to discuss how much vitamin D you need alongside a quality pre-natal that contains an adequate amount of vitamin D
  • If you’re vegan, most over the counter, chemist supplements with vitamin D are often sourced from lanolin (an oil product from sheep’s wool) – talk to us about finding a vegan pre-natal supplement

B vitamins

  • Choosing a supplement that contains activated forms of B vitamins and adequate doses is important to ensure your energy levels are maintained and that the nutrients you are consuming are absorbed and utilised.
  • Some products may have excess levels of B vitamins which can contribute to feelings of nausea

Coenzyme Q10

  • This nutrient is essential for energy production and gene development
  • It supports hormone production and acts as an antioxidant to prevent damage to cells
  • An additional CoQ10 supplement may be required to support your pregnancy.


  • Iodine supports healthy thyroid function and thyroid gland development in your baby. It also supports foetal brain development and cognition
  • Too much iodine is as detrimental as too little iodine, so ensure you are taking the right amount of iodine that YOU require.

Omega 3’s and DHA

  • These nutrients support egg quality and can often lead to improved pregnancy outcomes
  • Omega 3’s support in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, as well as reducing inflammation, blood pressure and supporting overall health
  • Pre-natal supplements may not contain adequate amounts so discussing supplementing with a naturopath is important for optimal outcomes. Not all omega supplements are the same so it is best to speak to your Naturopath about which omega supplements suits you and your dietary requirements.


  • Over the counter supplements tend to not include inositol in their formulas.
  • Inositol is very useful in pregnancy and preconception, especially if you experience PCOS.
  • Inositol acts to regulate insulin and blood glucose levels, normalises ovulation, enhances egg quality and supports hormone levels, specifically reducing testosterone
  • Choosing a higher quality supplement can ensure the inclusion of this nutrient

So overall –

The form of nutrients matters!!! Lots of cheap, synthetic forms of nutrients are poorly absorbed and have non-ideal side effects (who wants more side effects during pregnancy?!). Choosing a higher quality supplement can help prevent these side effects and ensure you’re absorbing the nutrients and receiving the benefits.

The dosage of nutrients matters!!!

Too much of one nutrient, and not enough of others is often the case in over the counter pregnancy multivitamin formulations. Choosing a quality supplement with your Naturopath can help to ensure you receive enough of all the essential nutrients during pregnancy. In pregnancy your nutrient demands increase and unfortunately most pre-natal supplements don’t match these levels.

If you’re vegan or vegetarian we recommend booking in with Monique or Candace so we can help you find a suitable supplement that meets all your needs. This is because:

  • Some pre-natal’s contain animal products or have nutrients sourced from animal sources – for example vitamin K, omega 3’s, calcium, and vitamin A and D
  • Taking a pre-natal alone may not be enough to reach your nutrient targets for some nutrients which are harder to obtain in a vegan diet, for example choline, omega 3’s, B12 and iron.

Book in an appointment with Monique or Candace today to swap your pregnancy or preconception multi-vitamin and choose a higher quality product. It is really important to start taking a pre-natal supplement a minimum of 3 months before you wish to conceive to ensure optimal pregnancy outcomes and to support your health as best you can.

We have a male pre-natal supplement post coming soon as fertility is not just based on one person in the relationship!

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