A Man's Guide to Buying a Prenatal

by Grace McCalmon


A Man’s Guide to Buying a Prenatal

by Grace McCalmon


Ever wonder what would happen if you were to take a prenatal?

Well they won’t make you pregnant (or grow boobs, we promise). But a guy’s best use of prenatal vitamins is probably not to take them. Instead, you can score major brownie points by understanding the key nutrients an expectant mama needs.

Doctors and experts agree that folate is one of the most important nutrients for pregnant women. “We need folate to create new cells, and babies are all new cells,” says Dr. Deborah Gordon. But you’ve most likely heard more people talk about folic acid – what’s the difference? Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate. In order to use folic acid, our bodies must convert it to methylfolate and research estimates that many people can’t make this conversion efficiently. Just to be on the safe side, Dr. Gordon recommends women supplement with the L-methylfolate form of folate rather than folic acid. This form does not need to be converted and taking a supplement with L-methylfolate ensures both mother and baby get 100% of the folate they need every day.

Next we have calcium topping the list of prenatal recommendations. “Calcium is essential for maintaining and developing healthy bones and teeth” says Dr. Angela Jones. “Maintenance for mom is crucial here, as she has to be strong enough to carry the pregnancy and support the developing baby.” Dr. Jones notes that calcium must also be balanced with vitamin D. In terms of what form is best, Dr. Jones says most prenatal vitamins contain a combination of calcium citrate and carbonate, but citrate is the form most easily absorbed by the body.

We don’t include calcium in our gummy vitamins because frankly, it made them taste bad and taste is one of the things we pride ourselves on. Additionally, it’s hard to get enough high-quality, easily absorbable calcium into a gummy, says Michael Cleary, PhD and head of product development at SmartyPants. According to Cleary, your best bet is to eat dairy (yum!). If that’s not an option, we recommend she talk with her doctor about additional calcium supplementation.

In order to absorb calcium, we need vitamin D. According to Dr. Mary Jane Minkin most people don’t get enough vitamin D, which can be obtained through sun exposure and foods like fatty fish, beef liver and egg yolks. But all vitamin Ds are not equal, Dr. Minkin says to look for a prenatal vitamin that contains the D3 form of vitamin D. This is the form we get from the sun and the form that’s most easily used by our bodies.

Possibly the most important nutrient you’ve never heard of, we need vitamin K just as much as vitamin D and calcium for bone building. Vitamin K regulates calcium by taking it out of our blood and putting it into our bones where it belongs – instead of soft tissue like arteries. Vitamin K also comes in a few different forms. According to Dr. Gordon, the one you want to look for in your prenatal supplement is menaquinone-7 (MK-7) form of vitamin K2. This is the form that has clinically-proven bone-building properties and lasts the longest in the bloodstream. It’s also the most rare in the western diet, only found in large amounts in the fermented soy product natto and fermented garbanzo beans.

These are all words that are often used to reference the same thing. EPA and DHA are two types of omega-3 fatty acids, or “essential fatty acids”, that come from fatty cold-water fish and some kinds of sea algae. DHA is essential for the growth and functional development of the baby’s rapidly maturing brain, says Dr. Jones; while EPA, is anti-inflammatory. Both omega-3s help regulate the hormonal process, which can be quite helpful (for everyone) during pregnancy. According to Cleary, a baby can take as much as 5g of DHA per day from the mother, so it’s very important to supplement. In fact, we recommend all pregnant mamas consume other sources of EPA and DHA, like wild caught fish, in addition to our SmartyPants Prenatal before, during and after pregnancy.

Iron is one of the most widely recommended nutrients for pregnant women. But new research indicates pregnant women may not actually need to supplement with extra iron. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) there is not enough evidence to support iron supplementation in non-anemic pregnant women. That said, iron is still a very important nutrient as it helps carry oxygen to the muscles, the brain and the baby. The RDA for pregnant women is 27mg per day, and the richest food sources of heme iron – the kind of iron that’s most easily absorbed by the body – is animal protein and seafood. If your mama-to-be is a vegan or vegetarian she may need to supplement with iron, but we recommend she discuss this with her primary care provider first.

Popping a prenatal vitamin once or twice won’t hurt you, but most doctors don’t recommend men take them regularly. “Prenatal vitamins are specifically formulated to meet the needs of expectant and nursing moms,” says Dr. Jones, noting that many prenatal vitamins contain much more iron than the average person needs and too much iron can be toxic.

But, unlike other prenatal vitamins, men can take SmartyPants PreNatal (which taste like candy, BTW). Like all our SmartyPants products, we don’t include iron or anything else that could potentially be toxic in our prental gummies. There’s nothing in SmartyPants PreNatal that will do anything but good for you and your baby mama.

So there you have it, everything you need to know to sound like the well-versed, sensitive, caring man that you are. Stay tuned for our Man’s Guide to Selecting the Right Throw Pillow. Just kidding.

Know any guys who are expecting? Share this with them!

Have you ever shopped for a prenatal? What do you look for? What questions do you have? We’d love to hear in the comments!


Posted on July 1, 2015

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Grace McCalmon

Grace is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) and a graduate of Duke University. She received her nutrition certification from the Nutritional Therapy Association, and her training is based on the work of Dr. Weston A Price, as well as the latest peer-reviewed, scientific research.