The Ultimate Guide for Choosing the Best Prenatal Supplement

Choosing the most optimal prenatal is a critical decision when it comes to preparing for pregnancy. And unfortunately a lot of supplement companies on the market overpromise and underdeliver. This can make it extremely confusing to know who you can trust, especially given that the industry is unregulated.

Given that taking a high quality prenatal is one of the most essential and research-backed things you can do to invest in the future health of a child (not to mention the mom!), it drives me crazy to see so many low quality prenatal companies on the market. And I know for many of our clients, it feels overwhelming to cut through the claims and know what is truly best.

Today, I am breaking down how to choose the most optimal prenatal supplement and my top prenatal recommendation.

Can You Get All of the Fertility Nutrients You Need From Food? 

Let’s be clear: when it comes to optimizing fertility, improving egg/sperm quality, improving pregnancy outcomes and supporting the proper development of the baby and child, studies show a nutrient-dense diet is essential. Proper nutrition is associated with a lower risk of gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and pre-term delivery.

But it doesn’t stop there! While a nutrient-dense diet is critical, it is not sufficient on it’s own for ensuring that women meet their comprehensive nutrient needs before, during and after pregnancy. Prenatal supplementation is necessary to ensure adequate nutrient intake during preconception, pregnancy and postpartum.

Meeting the increased nutrient demands of your growing fetus is impossible without a prenatal supplement. The average American has a difficult time meeting their nutrient needs. When you are using those nutrients for yourself + another growing and developing human, the risk of nutrient deficiencies is exacerbated due to increased nutritional requirements. Without supplementation, studies show that the levels of many vitamins and minerals decrease significantly during pregnancy, including calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and possibly chromium and iodine.

Many studies suggest that nutrient deficiencies are associated with a host of pregnancy complications (anemia, depression, gestational diabetes, hypertension, infertility, preeclampsia, and premature rupture of membranes) and infant health problems (asthma/wheeze, autism, low birth weight, congenital heart defects, intellectual development, intrauterine growth restriction, miscarriage, neural tube defects, orofacial defects, and preterm birth). Not to mention that nutrient deficiencies take a toll on the mom’s recovery as well. We run nutrient deficiency testing in my nutrition business, Being Functional Nutrition, and it’s rare to work with a postpartum mom that doesn’t have several nutrient deficiencies.

Taking a high quality prenatal to support fertility, pregnancy and postpartum recovery is a non-negotiable!

What Are Prenatals and Why Do They Matter? 

The purpose of a prenatal supplement is to supplement your typical diet so that you can ensure that you’re getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. A prenatal contains a nutrient profile that goes above and beyond multivitamins and is designed to support a healthy pregnancy and protect the mom and baby from pregnancy complications and infant health problems.

Some of the key researchers in the field of prenatal nutrition state in their comprehensive review that: “insufficient intake of vitamins during preconception and pregnancy is a contributing factor to many pregnancy/birth complications and childhood health disorders.” They also state that there’s an abundance of evidence “that optimal prenatal vitamin supplementation can significantly reduce the risk of many of those disorders.”

They highlight that getting proper doses of a variety of nutrients before and during pregnancy through diet and prenatal supplementation is associated with a decreased risk of the following:

-Neural tube defect


-Pre-term brith


-Low birth weight

-Heart defects



-And More

When To Start Taking a Prenatal?

ACOG recommends taking a prenatal supplement before pregnancy and continuing to take it after pregnancy to support recovery. Research shows that it’s best to start at least 3 months prior to conceiving but I generally recommend 3-6 months at minimum. This timeframe is sometimes called the “preconception window,” and it’s the time when your child’s DNA is being set up for success.

In addition to helping support reproductive health, promoting healthy pregnancy outcomes, helping to build nutrient stores, and improving egg and sperm quality BEFORE pregnancy (in the preconception phase), prenatal supplements contain nutrients to keep mom healthy and strong as nutrition demands increase. 

Staying on a comprehensive prenatal during lactation is also critical for both mom and the optimal development of the baby’s brain and immune system. There are even more reasons to continue taking a prenatal for at least six months after baby arrives: such as preventing nutrient deficiencies, creating nutrient-dense breastmilk, helping with wound healing, promoting mood support and as a health insurance policy for future pregnancies.

Should Men Take Prenatal Vitamin Supplements Too?

YES! Prenatal health is no longer considered just the woman’s job. It’s now understood, and proven by science, that men account for approximately 50% of infertility.  A man’s lifestyle can affect sperm health, and sperm health can affect pregnancy outcomes and the health of future children and even grandchildren.  

Getting enough vitamins and minerals with antioxidant properties is one of the best ways to protect against sperm damage before trying to get pregnant. Taking therapeutic levels of specific antioxidants can help prevent further damage from occurring and neutralize some of the damage that has already occurred. 

Antioxidants including selenium, vitamins A, C, E, CoQ10, and N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) can neutralize and reverse oxidative stress, a main driver of sperm dysfunction and male infertility. One study showed that antioxidants may increase male fertility four-fold and can increase the chance of a successful pregnancy by up to FIVE times.

What Should You Look for in a Prenatal?

When looking for a prenatal, there are many factors to consider but here are some that stand out as the most important: 

Contains Iron: Iron is a big deal for moms-to-be (needs double during pregnancy with an RDA of 27mg), yet many women’s prenatals don’t include it and it is the number one micronutrient deficiency in the world. Every cell and organ system in the body require it and it plays an essential role in optimizing organ development specifically, including immune function and brain development. The type of iron also matters. Ferrochel Iron is a patented chelated form of non-heme iron that passes through the stomach and small intestine without breaking apart. Ferrochel Iron has been shown to be more effectively absorbed than other types of iron chelate and does not deactivate or block the absorption of other nutrients. It also helps to decrease GI upset.

Contains Folate – not Folic Acid: Women need folate for healthy ovulation and egg development. Folate supplementation is also essential during pregnancy as it has been proven to reduce the risk of neural tube disorders and megaloblastic anemia. It also reduces the rate of other birth defects, preterm birth, and (if taken preconception) small-for-gestational-age. Low levels of folate are associated with a greater risk of having a child with autism.

The research has shown that folic acid supplementation is beneficial for preventing neural tube defect so most doctors still recommend this form. However this recommendation is outdated given that up to 60% of the population has a variation to their MTHFR gene, which makes it difficult to process the synthetic form of folate, aka folic acid. This can make supplements that contain the synthetic form less effective. When looking for an optimal prenatal, it should include methylated folate for this reason.

Has Enough Choline and Vitamin D: Choline is one of the most important vitamins for a baby’s brain and cell signaling. But most prenatals on the market only contain 50-100mg, which is far below the recommendations and it’s estimated that only 10% of women meet their dietary needs. The choline adequate intake (AI) level is 425 mg choline/day for women of reproductive age with upward adjustments to 450 mg choline/day during pregnancy and 550 mg choline/day during lactation. Because you can get choline from dietary sources like eggs, salmon, and grass-fed beef, you want to ensure that you get at least 400mg of choline from a prenatal.

Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption for both mom and baby and helps improve sperm motility, helps reduce the risk of miscarriage, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, low birth weight, preterm birth, and more. The average prenatal contains only 800-2,000 IU. But research shows that 4,000 IU for women is safe and most effective for supporting mom and baby. And vitamin D is also supportive of male fertility.

What to be Wary of When Choosing a Prenatal: 

Supplements in the US are not regulated. That’s why it’s very important to buy supplements that are third-party tested. Third-party lab testing is when an organization outside of the company evaluates, tests, and certifies the nutritional values and contents of the product. It’s like an unbiased voucher for quality. 

It’s equally as important to consider what’s NOT in a prenatal as what is included. Look for a prenatal that is non-GMO and free of synthetic fillers, artificial colors, and major allergens like gluten, dairy, soy, and nuts. And it’s even better if they test each batch for microbiological/bacterial contamination and heavy metals. 

The #1 Prenatal Brand I Recommend:

My go-to prenatal recommendation is WeNatal, for both females and males. In full disclosure, I am on the Medical Advisory Board for WeNatal and helped to formulate their prenatals after reviewing hundreds of research studies. When formulating the supplements it was important for us to include research-backed amounts of each nutrients and bioavailable forms of each nutrient. We did this for both the female and male supplements, knowing that both are necessary for optimizing fertility.

WeNatal Difference:

100% Clean Formula: no synthetic dyes, fillers, preservatives, or artificial ingredients.

Right Nutrients, Right Dose. Research Backed, Clinically Tested: formulated with key, hard to find nutrients, including folate and choline, in the most bioavailable form.

-Just Three Pills Daily: nutrient density of 6 to 8 pills packed into just 3 a day.

-Attention to Men’s Health: unique formula to promote fertility for the other half of the equation.

-The only Supplement with a Holistic Approach: supporting mind and body with effective tools like the WeNatal Journal.

Johnny and I both took WeNatal prior to conceiving and I have continued taking it throughout pregnancy and postpartum. I feel so passionately about the importance of taking a high quality prenatal because it impacts so many factors of the conception, pregnancy and postpartum journey and plays a critical role in supporting a healthy baby. I highly recommend checking out the WeNatal formula and learning more about this mission-driven company.