There are a few keys to finding the very best vegan prenatal vitamins, and some major benefits to making sure you're fully covered in vitamins.
When Juno's movie stepmom, the nail technician, tells her she'll need to start taking prenatal vitamins she says, "Incidentally, they do amazing things for your nails."
I am really not sure whether this is true or not, and I hate to be a snotty vegan about it, but it might be because I typically eat a really well balanced diet and always have strong nails.
After all, the whole idea of prenatal vitamins is to take them to ensure you're getting all the nutrients you need to nourish your growing baby.
The best nutrients come from whole foods, and you're never going to convince me that the vitamin C in a pill is better than the vitamin C in an orange.
However, when you're pregnant, you want to be extra certain that you are getting all the nutrients you need in a day. I see prenatal vitamins as a way to cover up any gaps in your diet.
For instance, if one day you are so nauseated that you can only eat unsalted crackers, you are definitely not taking in enough vitamins and minerals to make your baby healthy. While one day isn't going to kill anything, it's also just safer to take the multivitamin.
Of course, on those nauseated days, shoving a huge horse pill in your mouth is probably the last thing you want to do, but you can get around it. Some women like to cut up their prenatals and take them throughout the day, and you could also look for powdered versions and throw them into a smoothie to mask the scent and flavor.
When you're selecting a vegan prenatal vitamin, there are a few precautions to take...
1. Vitamins that are commonly derived from animal ingredients.
A few vitamins are more likely than others to come from animal sources. Vitamin A, for instance, can be synthetic, but it can also come from animal liver. Vitamin D3 often comes from lanolin, which is the oil in sheep's wool. I once heard lanolin described as the liquid that comes out of the dreadlocks of sheep's fur. Ew, and scary for the sheep.
Beware because there are a few popular prenatal vitamins that call themselves raw and vegetarian, and sometimes they say there are no animal-derived ingredients, but they use the non-vegan vitamin D3, rather than the vegan vitamin D2.
2. Beware the omnipresent gelatin capsules.
I typically opt for pills rather than capsules because the capsules are usually made from gelatin. There are vegan versions of the capsules, but you'll have to find them in health food stores.
3. Multivitamins with too much iron.
Have you ever had a multivitamin, prenatal vitamin or otherwise, that makes you instantly feel nauseated? The culprit is likely the iron in the vitamin. Some multivitamins include more than 150% of your daily iron needs in one vitamin, and that can make you constipated, nauseated, and even much sicker.
Iron is a tricky one because you need to get enough of it or you'll feel sick, but if you get too much, you'll also feel sick. You might have to experiment a bit with it, and you can also talk to your doctor or midwife about taking smaller doses more frequently throughout the day to avoid the overdose effect. You can also ask to have your iron levels checked throughout the pregnancy, and decide how much extra to take based on the results of the blood work.
4. Most prenatal pills don't have enough calcium.
You need about 1000mg of calcium every day when you're pregnant, and most prenatal pills only give you about 200-300mg, You can choose to supplement with a separate calcium pill (mine still only gives 200mg each day, so I have to take a handful), or just be really sure you're getting plenty of calcium from plant sources.
5. Some vitamins are crucial even before you know you're pregnant.
Here's another good reason to be constantly eating a healthy diet. Nutrients like folic acid and DHA are important for the neurological development of the fetus, and some of that development happens before you've gotten a positive pregnancy test. If you're trying to get pregnant (or it's even possible you could get pregnant), it's a good idea to start yourself on a vegan prenatal vitamin ahead of time.
Don't freak out if you forget to take your vitamin one time. If you're eating a healthy diet, chances are really good that there aren't too many nutritional gaps in your eating habits, so one day is not going to hurt anything.
And, try not to overdose on any of the ingredients in your vegan prenatal vitamin. Some of them have a shocking amount of one certain vitamin, and if you eat food that naturally has that vitamin, you are adding quite a bit of it to your diet.
What are your favorite vegan prenatal vitamins?