An expert’s view on how to choose the best prenatal

An expert’s view on how to choose the best prenatal.

As both an expert and a parent, I am passionate about making sure that every baby gets the right, high quality nutrition from the very beginning, because it makes a lifelong difference.

I'm James Adams. I'm a PhD and professor at Arizona State University where I direct the Autism and Asperger's research program. I cofounded the Neurological Health Foundation (NHF) and I'm the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board. We are a non-profit organization devoted to optimizing the health of women during pregnancy so they can have the healthiest infants possible, free of physical and neurological issues. We focus on creating guidelines, programs and education to help parents optimize their baby’s development so that they can reach their full potential.

At NHF we are very concerned about infant health today. The rates of autism, ADHD, obesity and allergies are all growing far too fast. And they have a common lynchpin, with pre-natal nutrition being a key factor that we know can help reduce the risk of these conditions.

There are a few but important things that a woman can do to help her body be as healthy as possible before and throughout pregnancy: avoiding exposure to toxic metals and chemicals, having regular prenatal care, taking a comprehensive prenatal vitamin and ideally waiting 18 months between pregnancies.

When it comes to prenatal supplements, the unfortunate reality is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate this category. There are more than 250 prenatals in the market with tremendous variation in quality and quantity of nutrients. At NHF, we've analyzed all of them and we found that they range from anywhere between 10% and 90% of our recommendations, but none fully meets our science-based standards. Some supplements contain only folic acid and iron; few contain a full range of all of the 30 plus essential vitamins and minerals, but often they don't have nearly enough of them. Many prenatal companies restrict themselves to just one capsule, which greatly limits the amount of vitamins and minerals that you can put into it to get all the nutrients that a woman needs. For example, when it comes to Calcium, to get the amount a pregnant woman needs daily you would need one capsule just for that.

In order to be part of the solution to this challenge, we have partnered with Shazi Visram, the mom founder of healthynest, to develop the first comprehensive prenatal in the market adapted to the unique needs of each trimester.

To design what I believe is the golden standard in prenatal supplementation, we reviewed over 350 scientific research papers, to help us determine what is the optimal level of each vitamin and each mineral, and how those needs change during each trimester.

A great example is iron: roughly 15% of women start their pregnancy with low iron. When they become pregnant, iron requirements go up so much that up to 40% of women develop low iron during pregnancy. Most prenatals contain some iron, but they don't contain enough, and they are not adapted to how iron needs increase in each trimester.

This matters because iron plays a crucial role in your baby’s brain development, as it helps bring oxygen to your baby's brain. We now know that having low iron doubles the risk of autism, and this is only one of the reasons why getting enough iron throughout your entire pregnancy is so important.

We've been investigating vitamin and mineral supplements for over 20 years. We have now used that research to look at the nutritional status of women, trying to better understand how to develop a prenatal supplement that contains the optimal level of every vitamin and mineral in each trimester, and we have put all of it into practice in the design of the healthynest prenatal.

In addition to the right nutrient quantities, we have put a deep emphasis on their quality and purity. Each and every vitamin and mineral has been carefully selected by our team of physicians and scientists taking into account the bioavailability of the form of vitamin, such as Folate in the form of MTHF, B12, choline and inositol to create an optimal microbiome for mom and baby.

There is one catch, though, but I believe it’s a minor one. The daily dose of the healthynest prenatal is seven capsules, for a very simple reason: because we don’t want to compromise. While this means taking a handful of vitamins, we have condensed down the almost 30 separate items that were previously not found in one formulation. We include all of the essential vitamins, all of the essential minerals and the and the Omega-3 fatty acids that women need in order to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, and that does require taking a few more pills than your standard prenatal. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but we know it’s worth it…

This information represents the views of its author. All content found on was created for informational purposes only, and it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.