Use This Checklist When Shopping for a Prenatal Vitamin

Use This Checklist When Shopping for a Prenatal Vitamin

You might already know that prenatal vitamins deliver key nutrients to your body so you can support yourself and your growing baby. But getting the right nutrients—in bioavailable forms, in just the right doses, exactly when you need them—is one of the best ways to cultivate the conditions for a healthy pregnancy. And with countless options on the market, we know that it can get overwhelming quickly, especially when it comes to decoding ingredient labels. (In short: Not all prenatal vitamins are created equal.)

To guide you through, here’s a breakdown of the essential ingredients every prenatal vitamin needs—with insights from naturopath and Perelel panel member, Dr. Caitlin O'Connor, N.D., and key differentiators to look out for.

Essential Nutrients to Look for in a Prenatal Vitamin 


Folate is one of the most crucial elements to include in a prenatal regimen. Taking folate before and during early pregnancy is important for healthy early neural, heart, and face development especially during the first month or two of pregnancy. 

Perelel Differentiator: Many prenatal vitamins use the synthetic form of folate, folic acid, in their formulas. But up to 60 percent of women have a gene variation that interferes with their ability to properly metabolize folic acid. Translation: Up to 60 percent of women may not be getting enough folate from their prenatals. Additionally, research shows that folic acid poses health risks in certain conditions such as megaloblastic anemia and in cases where the liver cannot convert folic acid due to genetic variants or during some pharmacotherapies. Because of that, we only use the active form of folate, L-5 methylfolate, in our products.  


Iron requirements are significantly increased during pregnancy. Most notably, the mineral is generally needed to support growth and development of the fetus and placenta during pregnancy, in addition to meeting the increased demand for red blood cells to transport oxygen.1

Perelel Differentiator: Our formulations include a chelated format of iron to allow for optimal absorption and limited constipating side effects. We also followed science’s lead to include the combination of iron and Vitamin C to allow for optimized iron absorption. We polled Dr. Caitlin O’Connor to explain exactly how this combo works. “Vitamin C allows non-heme (not from animal sources) iron to become more absorbable across the lining of the intestines,“ O’Connor says. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is thought of most for its function in bone health, but this vitamin also affect pregnant women’s blood pressure, mood and brain function, and immunity.1 It’s estimated that up to 50% of people have Vitamin D insufficiency, which makes supplementation especially important.4

Perelel Differentiator: There are two sources of Vitamin D: Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) and ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2). Perelel opted to formulate with cholecalciferol because research shows that Vitamin D3 is more effective than Vitamin D2 in increasing and maintaining higher serum Vitamin D levels. 


According to Dr. O’Connor, choline is a common nutrient deficiency. During pregnancy, a mother naturally delivers large amounts of choline to the fetus across the placenta which places a larger demand on internal stores.1

Perelel Differentiator: We’ve included a significantly higher dose of Choline than is found in most prenatals to support fetal neurodevelopment and DHA metabolism. 

Omega DHA + EPA

Omega-3s are important for your baby’s brain development and for supporting your mood throughout pregnancy.

Perelel Differentiator: Having a formula that includes both (DHA + EPA) is important as EPA plays an important role in helping DHA cross the placenta. It's why we opted to include omega DHA + EPA in each of our Trimester Packs.

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Other Active Ingredients

At Perelel, we believe supplements should be used to complement a healthy diet rather than replace key nutrients you can get from foods. That said, you may want to choose a prenatal that includes other vitamins and minerals that can help close your particular nutrient gaps. Be mindful of how much of each ingredient is in the formula because levels over 500% of your daily value might mean you’re paying for ingredients your body isn’t going to absorb. 

Zinc deficiencies—which have been associated with adverse outcomes including low birth weight, premature delivery and labor complications—are common in pregnant women due to rapid cell growth.

Iodine, according to Dr. O'Connor, is crucial for thyroid support, and it is not commonly found in our diets.

Vitamin A is involved in the regulation of gene expression, growth, and development, cellular production, vision, and immunity. Forms of Vitamin A, known as retinoids, are essential for embryonic and fetal development including the formation of the eyes, ears, limbs, and heart.

B-vitamins are an essential supplement during pregnancy. Vitamin B deficiencies during pregnancy can cause fetal abnormalities and various side effects to the mother including hair loss, anemia, digestive problems, lower immune response, weakness, and fatigue.

Vitamin C supports strong teeth and bones2 helps in iron absorption, supports a healthy immune system3, plays a role in collagen synthesis, and heals and repairs skin tissue postpartum. Some studies have shown that vitamin C may help prevent preeclampsia.This powerful antioxidant supports eye health, brain health, repairs cells and supports healthy skin and supports healthy egg quality and reproductive health. It is also decreases oxidative stress within the body during pregnancy, which may aid in preventing hypertension diseases such as preeclampsia.

As always, we recommend consulting your healthcare provider or OB/GYN before beginning any new supplement regimen.


  1. American Pregnancy Association. Prenatal vitamin ingredients. Jul 2017
  2. Karla Walsh, What to Expect. How much vitamin C do you need during pregnancy? May 2020
  3. Apta Club. Vitamin C during pregnancy. July 2020
  4. Omeed Sizar; Swapnil Khare; Amandeep Goyal; Pankaj Bansal; Amy Givler.Vitamin D deficiency. Jan 2021
  5. Patricia Van Leer, MD. Vitamin E in pregnancy. Apr 2017.