We have many choices for vegan supplements these days. But it’s not always clear which one to choose. Follow these 4 steps to find the right prenatal for you.
If you are pregnant, you are likely looking for a prenatal multivitamin to supplement with. These are commonly taken an insurance policy, knowing that our diets are not always providing all the nutrients that we need.
Here are the 4 steps to selecting the best prenatal to suit your needs.
Step 1: Check that the vitamin is vegan.
Many companies will label their supplements as vegan, making this step easy to check off. However, some say “vegetarian”, which requires a little more investigation.
The most common non-vegan ingredients in vegetarian pills are gelatin and vitamin D. If the source of vitamin D isn’t listed as lichen or Vitashine – that supplement is likely not vegan.
My favorite prenatal from Ritual is labeled as vegetarian but is in fact vegan – so it’s worth checking!
Step 2: Verify that the most important nutrients are included in appropriate doses
For vegan pregnancies, the 5 most important nutrients to supplement with are vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, iodine, and omega-3s. Check that they are included in the prenatal with appropriate doses. It is especially important to ensure that you aren’t getting too much of any particular substance if you are combining several multivitamins.
Step 3: See if there are too many nutrients that you don’t need.
If a supplement contains numerous ingredients that you aren’t familiar with and don’t know if you need, pass it up for another option. Alternatively, do your research to verify that what is included in the pill is what you actually want to be supplementing.
Step 4: Consider adding another supplements if needed.
It’s better to have a lower amount of a given nutrient than to overload your body with substances that you don’t need. If you and your healthcare provider believe that you should supplement with more of a particular nutrient, then go for it. For pregnant vegans, the most common ones are vitamin B12 and iron.
Do I need to supplement at all?
Research shows that supplementing with certain nutrients leads to better health outcomes. But it’s worth being caution.
The supplement industry has a market value of $40 billion in the US. With minimal oversight from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are bound to be questionable products. And while the FDA has stated that it will increase regulations , the decision of what to purchase still ultimately resides with you.
To be clear, I always support getting your nutritional needs met through a varied plant-based diet. Nutrients were never meant to be extracted, isolated, and repackaged as pills for us to shortcut nature. But I look at it simply as an insurance policy, especially during pregnancy.
Vegan Prenatal Recommendations
My research has revolved around nutrients, their functions, recommended intakes, possible food sources, and suggested quantities for supplementation. The only supplement that I’ve found to match those scientific findings is Ritual’s Essential Prenatal and you can read more details in my review. I chose a clean, vegan supplement with nutrients that I need and nothing that I don’t.
And many other companies are catching on. For example, when I reviewed a prenatal from SmartyPants Prenatal Complete earlier in the year (this was the one recommended to me), I quickly skipped over it because it wasn’t vegan. Several months later, they launched a new vegan formula called SmartyPants Vitamins
The bottom line is that you need to be an informed and discerning consumer with anything that you chose to put in your body. Follow the guidelines above, do your own research, ask for recommendations, question the companies, and make a choice that suits you best!