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Prenatal Vitamins: Why a Whole Food Option May Be the Best Choice for You and Your Baby

This Is What It's Really Like Being a Mom

Did you know that the prenatal vitamin is the whole reason I started Mykind Organics? It’s true!

When I became pregnant, I didn’t think I even needed a prenatal vitamin because I ate such a healthy, plant-based diet. Why would I need a vitamin if my diet was so clean and healthy, I thought. But it turns out there are times I can’t get my hands on the healthiest food, and a prenatal is sort of an insurance policy. I wanted the best for my baby, so I went looking for a prenatal that fit my healthy ethos. And, much to my surprise, I found all the prenatal vitamins out there were made with junk! 

So that quest was the catalyst for starting MyKind Organics. I couldn’t find anything clean. Those companies claiming to be vegan or whole food-based were just wrapped in chemicals. And if I’m going to all the effort to eat organic vegetables from my garden why would I put chemicals in my body for my baby to eat?

There are times when everyone needs to fill in the gaps, and a clean, whole food-based prenatal takes out the guesswork of being perfect.

But with so many options on the market, how do you know which one is best? It was a huge concern for me and here’s why I stand by our organic prenatal to this day even though my baby is now in middle school!

What are prenatal vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are specialized supplements crafted for pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant in the near future. These vitamins contain a blend of vital nutrients, including folate (folic acid), iron, calcium, and other minerals that support the development of a healthy baby. They are a crucial component in a holistic approach to pregnancy care, filling in the nutritional gaps that can occur in even the healthiest diets.

The main components typically include folic acid, which helps prevent neural tube defects; iron, which aids in the prevention of anemia; and calcium, which supports bone growth.

Doctors usually recommend starting prenatal vitamins as soon as you know you want to get pregnant, taking them before conception, and continuing them throughout pregnancy and even while nursing. 

While a balanced and healthy diet is vital before, during, and after pregnancy, that’s not always possible. Prenatals fill in the gaps and offer moms-to-be and babies a safety net. Prenatal vitamins ensure that both mother and baby receive all the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and development.

Are there side effects from prenatal vitamins?

While prenatal vitamins are essential, they are not without potential side effects. Some women might experience mild nausea or constipation, particularly in the early stages of pregnancy. These effects can often be managed by taking the vitamins with food or before bedtime. 

When we were formulating MyKind Organics’ prenatals, I wanted to be sure we created a vitamin that reduced nausea as much as possible as moms-to-be, especially in the first trimester, are typically already very nauseated. Fortunately, ours don’t contribute to these side effects. The reason? Ours are made purely from whole foods, not chemically isolated vitamins.

Mykind Prenatal

The whole foods prenatal vitamin difference

Like all of our MyKind Organics products, our prenatal vitamins are free from GMOs, fillers, and artificial ingredients. 

Whole food vitamins deliver nutrients in their natural state, which are more easily recognized and utilized by the body. These vitamins aim to preserve the complex structure of nutrients, including not just the essential vitamins and minerals, but also additional beneficial compounds like enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.

Whole food vitamins are often promoted as being closer to how nutrients are found in nature, and therefore more balanced and synergistic. Synthetic vitamins, on the other hand, usually contain isolated nutrients without the accompanying beneficial compounds.

Folate versus folic acid

When I designed MyKind prenatal vitamins, I wanted to give expectant moms the best source of folate. Mykind Organics only ever uses folate in its vitamins to ensure the best source of this key nutrient because it is more absorbable by the body. 

Here’s why.

Folate and folic acid are two different forms of Vitamin B9. Folate refers to the naturally occurring form of Vitamin B9 found in various foods such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and lentils. In contrast, folic acid is the synthetic form of Vitamin B9, used in dietary supplements and fortified foods like cereals, bread, and pasta.

Folate is directly utilized by the body, but the absorption process can be less efficient depending on factors such as individual digestion and food preparation. Folic acid must be converted into the active form of Vitamin B9, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), in the liver and other tissues, a process that can be inefficient in some individuals and cause potential health concerns. (Some people with a specific genetic mutation, called MTHFR, may have difficulty converting folic acid to its active form, making natural folate or supplements the better choice as they contain the active form of the vitamin.)

In short, folate is from plants. Your body can absorb it easily and there are no health concerns, whereas folic acid may not offer the same results. 

It’s also important to remember that while your prenatal vitamin choice does matter, it is only part of ensuring the healthiest outcome for your baby. A plant-forward diet is also crucial. In fact, a recent study found that a healthy intake of dietary fiber, which comes from plants, may play a critical role in your baby’s brain development.  

Talk with your doctor and midwife about the healthiest pregnancy for your body —  and I’m a little biased, but I recommend reading my book, The Kind Mama for more resources about having a healthy, plant-based pregnancy — it dispels some of the biggest myths about diet and pregnancy. The book will help you get pregnant, prepare your body for pregnancy, and will help you to have the most vibrant, healthy pregnancy possible and the healthiest start to your baby’s life.

Since writing The Kind Diet and The Kind Mama, some of the greatest fan moments I’ve experienced have not been about my movies, but when people stop me on the street to tell me that reading my books has helped them get pregnant! How lovely is that?

Wishing you a healthy and most wonderful pregnancy and birth.

Xo,

Alicia

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