The monthly vitamin subscription service just launched a line of prenatal vitamins. But does your ob-gyn think these are the best option for expecting moms? We asked.
Popping a prenatal vitamin is just one of the many steps moms-to-be take to ensure a healthy pregnancy and baby. And today, subscription vitamin brand Ritual is making access to these essential pills even easier with a line of prenatal vitamins called the Essential Prenatal.
It makes sense that Ritual would expand in this way, as the brand's flagship multivitamin contains only the nine most essential nutrients for women's health, backed by the latest scientific data.
At $35 a month, "Essential Prenatal is intended for any and all moms-to-be and women who have pregnancy on the horizon," says company founder Katerina Schneider. This is one of the factors making this vitamin a little more universal than you might imagine. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, with most women not starting prenatal vitamins until eight weeks after conception. According to the brand, this new Ritual pill acts as insurance that you're starting off on the right foot, nutritionally, whether your pregnancy is planned or unplanned.
Just like with their initial multivitamin, the prenatal will be delivered to your door every month. It'll come in Ritual's signature, cute transparent-and-yellow packaging—but with a lemon essence instead of mint, since "citrus is commonly craved during pregnancy," says Schneider. (Related: Are Personalized Vitamins Actually Worth It?)
But shouldn't you be getting guidance from your ob-gyn on such an important supplement? Or is it NBD to get your prenatal vitamins by mail?
First, here's more on the Ritual prenatal vitamins.
The über-trendy company has put in the research: Ritual's in-house team and advisory board are both made up of an array of M.D.s and Ph.D.s, including nutritional biochemists and ob-gyns, who together partnered with "a great deal of scientists, research partners, and doctors," to develop the vitamin, says Schneider.
Plus, the Essential Prenatal boasts a handful of ingredients that most other prenatals don't—namely folate (since a lot of women can't absorb the more commonly used folic acid), vegan omega-3 DHA, and choline. Just like their multivitamin, the prenatal features no unwanted excipients, nothing artificial, no GMOs, and organic ingredients whenever possible.
So, are they recommended?
"The one ingredient, in general, that pregnant women need is folic acid," says Diana Ramos, M.D., an ob-gyn and co-chair of the National Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative. Ritual's prenatal checks that box, so at a baseline, it's already better than taking nothing. (Related: How Much Should Pregnant Women Really Eat?)
And Schneider is right in saying their formula includes a lot of important ingredients that other OTC prenatal vitamins leave out, like folate, choline, omega-3s, iodine, and vitamin D3, confirms Lauren Manaker, R.D.N., founder of pre- and postnatal nutrition counseling service, Nutrition Now.
Manaker says she doesn't see any harm in taking the Essential Prenatal in the short-term. But both she and Dr. Ramos agree that there is a level of individuality missing with this being your go-to prenatal for all nine months.
"There is no perfect prenatal vitamin for everyone," says Dr. Ramos. Folate is a universal must, but "any other required vitamins or minerals [for an expectant mother] would be at the discretion and recommendation of her health care provider based on her personal health needs," she adds.
Schneider agrees with this: "As with any supplements during pregnancy, it's important that women check with their physician to make sure these are right for them." So, if you're interested in taking Ritual's Essential Prenatal, just chat with your doc, who may simply ask that you tack on an additional, more personalized vitamin or two. (Related: 4 Ways You Need to Change Your Workout When You Get Pregnant)
There's one important thing Ritual vitamins offer.
There's one huge perk to opting for these subscription vitamins that shouldn't be overlooked: "The one challenge with any prenatal vitamin—or any medication really—is remembering to take it daily," says Dr. Ramos. Having it delivered to your doorstep every month can help with compliance—which is especially important with a prenatal vitamin.
"In most stages of life, people can get in all the vitamins they need through their diet. But intake requirements of some nutrients are increased so much when pregnant, that it's unlikely a woman will get all of what she needs through her diet alone," says Manaker.