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Are All Prenatals Vitamins The Same?

It’s an easy assumption, but you’re much better off thinking that every prenatal vitamin is wildly different in terms of composition, nutrient quality and, importantly, nutrient amount. Not only is that actually true, it puts you in the smart consumer mindset of understanding what matters in a prenatal vitamin—and why. Since all prenatal vitamins are most certainly not the same, the Beli team is highlighting key nutrients your prenatal vitamin needs. We can’t speak for other brands, but we can break down exactly what goes into Beli’s prenatal vitamins for men and women and why everything, from the nutrients to the amounts included, is rooted in the latest research.

Key Takeaways

  • There is no standard for prenatal vitamin nutrients, so consumers need to really trust that individual manufacturers have done their due diligence to formulate their products.
  • Men and women should look for specific nutrients in prenatal vitamins to support their fertility.
  • Just as important as what's include is what isn't. Remember, prenatal vitamins are designed as supplements, which means a food-first approach is best.
  • One of the best ways to distinguish a high-quality prenatal vitamin from less reputable options is by its manufacturing process.

Which Nutrients Should I Look For In A Prenatal Vitamin?

beli-baby-are-prenatal-vitamins-the-same

At this time, there is no single standard for nutrients or nutrient amounts in prenatal vitamins. That means the consumer has to trust that a manufacturer has dutifully referenced all of the available research on fertility and prenatal health, in addition to deferring to the authorities in the field, which includes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Medical Association (AMA). It’s a big ask.

Regardless of the brand, there are specific nutrients that your prenatal vitamin should be supplying to ensure you and your baby get the very best start.

  • Vitamin C supports your immunity and aids in iron absorption, while also promoting the development of baby’s bones and teeth. This is a key ingredient in a prenatal vitamin because the body can’t store vitamin C, which means we need a steady supply (1).
  • Vitamin B6 and B12 work together to regulate hormone balance and trigger regulation ovulation. 
  • Vitamin D is required for proper calcium absorption. Deficiencies of this hormone are a big deal, associated with complications like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm delivery, postpartum depression, and an increased risk of miscarriage. In babies, insufficient vitamin D levels can impede healthy bone development and even long-term health after delivery. Beli for Women is one of just a few prenatal vitamins on the market meeting the APA’s recommendation of 4,000 IU of vitamin D. Take it from the American Pregnancy Association: “It is unlikely your prenatal vitamin provides enough vitamin D. A recent study found women taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily had the greatest benefits in preventing preterm labor/births and infections” (2).
  • Vitamin E helps protect both reproductive function and egg quality (3). You may recognize it in your favorite skincare products, where it’s used to promote cellular repair. It works just as well in human eggs to defend against oxidative damage.
  • Zinc helps support reproductive hormones (4).
  • Vitamin K2 aids in the production of progesterone and estrogen and it’s particularly beneficial for women with PCOS (5).
  • Folate is a bioavailable form of folic acid. Every single cell in the body uses this critical nutrient for healthy growth and development, and before and during pregnancy, it’s essential to protect against neural tube defects. It’s so important during the earliest days of pregnancy that it’s one of the reasons experts advise women hoping to conceive are advised to start prenatal vitamins before becoming pregnant.
  • Choline is comparable to folate in terms of its importance during pregnancy. Adequate amounts in early pregnancy ensure proper spinal cord and brain development, as well as protection against neural tube defects. Many, many prenatal vitamins are lacking in choline entirely or in sufficient quantities. Beli is one of just a handful of prenatal vitamins with 400 mg of choline. 
  • Chromium is an essential mineral that may help improve fertility in women with PCOS. It’s particularly important if you develop gestational diabetes.
  • Magnesium is used in the growth and development of your baby before pregnancy and during the newborn stage. Research finds that magnesium also has an impact on fetal programming and disease presentation in childhood or adulthood (6). 
  • Iodine is a trace mineral that supports thyroid hormones for both mom and baby, which assists normal brain and nervous system development.

For men, the goal of a prenatal vitamin is to support sperm health with specialized nutrition, including:

  • L-Carnitine is an amino acid derivative associated with healthier sperm quality. 
  • L-Arginine, another amino acid, is essential for healthy sperm production and sperm motility (7). 
  • Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is a doctor-approved antioxidant that can support sperm concentration and motility (8). 
  • L-Taurine is a powerful antioxidant that works throughout the body, including protecting the male reproductive organs (9). 
  • N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine, or NAC, is a semi-essential amino acid that supports multiple sperm parameters (10). 
  • Vitamins C, E, B6 and B12, all antioxidants, protect sperm from free radical damage and complement other antioxidants, including CoQ10 and selenium. 
  • Vitamin D functions in the same way in terms of absorption, but it’s also linked to better sperm quality (11).
  • Methylated folate as a daily supplement for men has been linked to improved sperm count and quality. One study found that low folate levels is semen are associated with poor sperm DNA stability (12).
  • Selenium is another antioxidant, one that has been shown to increase several sperm parameters, including in infertile men (13). When combined with vitamins A, E and C, selenium has also been shown to improve sperm quality as a whole.  
  • Zinc supplementation has been linked to improved sperm motility, functional sperm morphology and increased sperm volume (14).

What Makes Beli Different?

Beli for Women is based on the latest scientific research for fertility, prenatal and postnatal health. It’s one of the only prenatals on the market meeting current recommendations for choline, folate, iodine, magnesium and vitamin D (15). The formula includes 20 handpicked ingredients, which includes branded forms of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In other words, they are the purest forms available, with the greatest bioavailability for the highest efficacy. As it happens, that’s why a serving size is just three capsules—branded forms of key nutrients just take up less space! In fact, during the research and development stage, Beli’s serving size went from four capsules to three when we switched to the trademarked VitaCholine, which is considered the gold standard for choline. 

We opted for the gold standard wherever possible, which is why our formula includes Ferrochel, a chelated version of iron that’s much easier on the stomach, and Albion TRAACs zinc. We also avoided a lot of ingredients that make their way into other prenatals, including but not limited to artificial colorants, hydrogenated oils, talc, titanium dioxide, sodium benzoate and soybean oil, all of which are designed for aesthetics or a prolonged shelf life.

Our men’s prenatal vitamin follows the same standard. Beli Vitality for Men is a vegan-friendly supplement with a carefully calibrated blend of vitamins and nutrients to support male fertility before and during the biological transition to fatherhood. In addition to all of the nutrients mentioned above, it’s also the only men’s prenatal vitamin made with Shilajit, an ancient Ayurvedic adaptogen that may help increase sperm count, motility, and serum testosterone. Like our women’s formula, our men’s prenatals are based on the latest research. Unlike your multivitamin, these are formulated for fertility health. Men switching from a multivitamin will also appreciate the daily serving size of just two capsules!

Both our men’s and women’s  vitamins are made with non-GMO ingredients and free of glutens, allergens, and suspicious ingredients in general. These science-aligned prenatal vitamins are manufactured in cGMP and FDA-registered facilities in the United States, and they’ve also earned the Purity Award from the Clean Label Project.

What We Didn’t Include In Beli For Women—And Why

Just as important as what’s in our formula is what we didn’t include. At Beli, we take a “food first” approach to prenatal nutrition. You don’t need every nutrient crammed into your prenatal vitamin, because it’s designed to supplement a balanced diet. In other words, your diet should be the primary source of your nutrition. That’s why we purposefully excluded vitamin A. Not only is it plentiful in the average diet, too much can be harmful in the earliest days of pregnancy. We also skipped calcium, which competes with other nutrients for absorption, and DHA, which is very important during pregnancy but not shelf stable when combined with other ingredients and best sourced in your daily diet or taken as a separate supplement. It’s a sign of our intention to create functional, safe, effective prenatal vitamins that do their job.

A Good Rule Of Thumb

One of the best ways to distinguish a high-quality prenatal vitamin from less reputable options is by its manufacturing process. You should always opt for a brand that manufactures its products in FDA-registered and cGMP-certified facilities, which indicate safe, standardized processes that ensure quality control and product consistency. Facilities that are cGMP certified meet very high standards for production and monitoring, so they’re quick to spot and address any potential issues that could affect quality, purity, or safety in products coming off the line. FDA certification means a facility is regularly inspected, which is another indication of safety.

The Bottom Line

With so many options for prenatal vitamins, it can feel overwhelming choosing one for you. But understanding that prenatal vitamins aren’t all the same is a good first step. That’s the best way to recognize the importance of scanning the label for essential ingredients and opting for vitamins made responsibly. At Beli, we share the same goal as everyone who buys our prenatal vitamins – supporting and nourishing a healthy, new little life. That’s why you can trust that our science-aligned formulas are truly serving the needs of couples trying to conceive, already pregnant or in the postpartum stage.


Resources

  1. Vitamin C. (2023). https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-c/
  2. Mithal et al. (2014). Vitamin D supplementation in pregnancy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171878/
  3. Mutalip et al. (2018). Vitamin E as an antioxidant in female reproductive health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5836012/
  4. Nasiadek et al. (2020). The role of zinc in selected female reproductive system disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7468694/
  5. Razavi et al. (2016). The Effects of Vitamin D-K-Calcium Co-Supplementation on Endocrine, Inflammation, and Oxidative Stress Biomarkers in Vitamin D-Deficient Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27050252/
  6. Fanni et al. (2021). The Role of Magnesium in Pregnancy and in Fetal Programming of Adult Diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8360883/
  7. Chen et al. (2018). Dietary l-arginine supplementation improves semen quality and libido of boars under high ambient temperature. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29198215/
  8. Salvio et al. (2021). Coenzyme Q10 and male infertility: a systematic review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8226917/
  9. Yuanyuan, et al. (2023). The role of taurine in male reproduction: physiology, pathology and toxicology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9889556/
  10. Jannatifar et al. (2019). Effects of N-acetyl-cysteine supplementation on sperm quality, chromatin integrity and level of oxidative stress in infertile men. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6377938/
  11. Angelis C et al. (2017). The role of vitamin D in male fertility: a focus on the testis. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11154-017-9425-0
  12. Boxmeer J et al. (2009). Low folate in seminal plasma is associated with increased sperm DNA damage. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18722602/
  13. Moslemi M et al. (2011). Selenium–vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048346/
  14. Fallah A et al. (2018). Zinc is an Essential Element for Male Fertility: A Review of Zn Roles in Men’s Health, Germination, Sperm Quality, and Fertilization. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010824/
  15. (2023). Nutrition During Pregnancy. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/nutrition-during-pregnancy

Additional Resources

The summer heat really can have a temporary effect on male fertility, so doing what you can to keep cool, especially if the goal is becoming a dad, is really important. Here are tips to keep you and the boys cool this summer.

Read More

If you’re no stranger to the telltale signs of seasonal allergies—sneezing, itching, nasal congestion, irritated eyes, the works—you’re likely familiar with antihistamines. When you’re actively trying to conceive, there’s more to understand about histamines, seasonal allergies and how it affects your fertility.

Read More

When the plan is a baby, but you’re having a hard time conceiving, it’s normal to start wondering why. While there can be a number of issues in play, one tends to be overlooked: sleep quality. Specifically, men who have the sleep disorder sleep apnea could be at greater risk of fertility issues. Now, new research is drawing a more definitive link between sleep apnea and male fertility. Let’s review.

Read More

Fact: You can’t look at a guy—or eyeball his semen sample, for that matter—and determine his fertility. It just doesn’t work that way. The only way to truly assess sperm health is with a semen analysis. But there are a few lifestyle choices and truths that may indicate whether a man’s sperm is healthy and happy. 

Read More

While PCOS can be a challenging condition to manage, natural supplements like inositol that are included in Beli Preconception Boost offer a beacon of hope. Inositol's ability to improve insulin sensitivity, hormone balance, and ovulatory function makes it a valuable tool in the PCOS management toolkit. 

Read More

The concern that hormonal contraception affects future fertility is making the rounds on social media again. But research continues to show that all that worry is for naught. While birth control doesn’t cause long-term fertility issues, it can mask them by creating an artificial cycle—something that’s important to understand.

Read More

While it’s lumped into the “bodily fluid” category, semen is a complex cocktail of compounds designed to support fertility. Like sperm quality, semen health can be influenced by lifestyle factors—an important realization for couples trying to conceive. From color to consistency, here’s what healthy semen looks like.

Read More

There’s a lot of chatter when it comes to male masturbation and what it says about a man’s fertility or whether it’s an issue when a couple is actively trying to conceive. And in the interest of clearing up the confusion, we’re taking a facts-based approach to the topic of men, masturbation and fertility.

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For many of us, our twenties and even thirties are a time when the focus is on pregnancy prevention. And that’s okay! But even when the idea of motherhood is miles away there is tremendous value in understanding your fertility health and what you can do to support it during these young, carefree days.

Read More

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Read More

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Read More

Raise your hand if you already know that you have a biological clock. From age 35 and beyond, there is a natural decline in testosterone and sperm quality. Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, sperm also tend to lose their "fitness" over the life cycle. But what does that mean—and does it really matter?

Read More

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Read More

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Read More

Ever wondered why men produce so much darn sperm, especially if only one of them will ultimately fertilize the egg? There are millions of sperm in normal ejaculate because it increases the likelihood that one will reach the egg and seal the deal. It begs the question, what exactly happens on the journey to the egg?

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Read More

Diet has been suggested to have an influence on the quality and function of human sperm. More specifically, the results of a randomised trial have shown that including nuts as a component of a regular diet improved the quality and function of human sperm.

Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

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Read More

The summer heat really can have a temporary effect on male fertility, so doing what you can to keep cool, especially if the goal is becoming a dad, is really important. Here are tips to keep you and the boys cool this summer.

Read More

If you’re no stranger to the telltale signs of seasonal allergies—sneezing, itching, nasal congestion, irritated eyes, the works—you’re likely familiar with antihistamines. When you’re actively trying to conceive, there’s more to understand about histamines, seasonal allergies and how it affects your fertility.

Read More

When the plan is a baby, but you’re having a hard time conceiving, it’s normal to start wondering why. While there can be a number of issues in play, one tends to be overlooked: sleep quality. Specifically, men who have the sleep disorder sleep apnea could be at greater risk of fertility issues. Now, new research is drawing a more definitive link between sleep apnea and male fertility. Let’s review.

Read More

Fact: You can’t look at a guy—or eyeball his semen sample, for that matter—and determine his fertility. It just doesn’t work that way. The only way to truly assess sperm health is with a semen analysis. But there are a few lifestyle choices and truths that may indicate whether a man’s sperm is healthy and happy. 

Read More

While it’s lumped into the “bodily fluid” category, semen is a complex cocktail of compounds designed to support fertility. Like sperm quality, semen health can be influenced by lifestyle factors—an important realization for couples trying to conceive. From color to consistency, here’s what healthy semen looks like.

Read More

There’s a lot of chatter when it comes to male masturbation and what it says about a man’s fertility or whether it’s an issue when a couple is actively trying to conceive. And in the interest of clearing up the confusion, we’re taking a facts-based approach to the topic of men, masturbation and fertility.

Read More

For many of us, our twenties and even thirties are a time when the focus is on pregnancy prevention. And that’s okay! But even when the idea of motherhood is miles away there is tremendous value in understanding your fertility health and what you can do to support it during these young, carefree days.

Read More

Raise your hand if you already know that you have a biological clock. From age 35 and beyond, there is a natural decline in testosterone and sperm quality. Just as people lose muscle strength, flexibility and endurance with age, sperm also tend to lose their "fitness" over the life cycle. But what does that mean—and does it really matter?

Read More

Men really do benefit from specialized nutrition in the form of a prenatal vitamin that’s formulated to support sperm health. Here’s what that looks like, and how specific nutrients can impact a man’s fertility health before fatherhood.

Read More

Shilajit is finally getting the credit it’s due, and we’re proud to point out that our proprietary formula was the very first to include this powerful Ayurvedic compound. Here’s why shilajit is rapidly becoming the darling of the male fertility world–and what you’re missing if you’re skipping it.

Read More

Ever wondered why men produce so much darn sperm, especially if only one of them will ultimately fertilize the egg? There are millions of sperm in normal ejaculate because it increases the likelihood that one will reach the egg and seal the deal. It begs the question, what exactly happens on the journey to the egg?

Read More

Just as women’s bodies need to be prepared for pregnancy, men’s bodies need to be ready to contribute healthy sperm for conception. Nutrients are the foundation that support the normal structure and function of sperm and men's fertility health. Taking Beli’s male prenatal supplement is a proactive way to strategically fuel your body to optimize fertility contributing to your overall chances of conceiving and supporting a healthy pregnancy.  

Read More

Diet has been suggested to have an influence on the quality and function of human sperm. More specifically, the results of a randomised trial have shown that including nuts as a component of a regular diet improved the quality and function of human sperm.

Read More

A shot to the balls may be played for laughs on screen, but testicular impacts really aren’t a joke. Worse case scenario, getting hit in the balls can affect fertility thanks to complications like sexual dysfunction, low testosterone and other issues. Let's discuss.

Read More

With the New Year upon us, there are all kinds of articles and videos making the rounds with predictions of the Zodiac signs most likely to get pregnant in 2024. But here at Beli, we take a much more scientific approach to conception. Here are the top eight things people will do to get pregnant in 2024.

Read More

Research shows that the overall health of both biological parents during the preconception window plays a huge role in everything from conception to pregnancy health to the lifetime health of their baby. Luckily, there are simple steps you can both take to improve your health together.

Read More

When it comes to becoming parents, good habits really will take you where you want to go. Now, new science is giving us insight into exactly how long it takes to form those good habits. We're breaking down all the ways you can build healthy habits to boost your chances of conception. Think of it as life-hacking, but for grown-ups.

Read More

Here at Beli, we’re working hard to raise awareness of the important role men play in the baby-making equation, which brings us to today’s topic of men’s preconception health and specifically, sperm health. Knowing what you’re working with can save you a lot of time, but is at-home sperm testing considered an important part of men’s preconception health? Let’s break it down.

Read More

There’s a certain magic to the holiday season, whether you’re all-in on the decorations and the family time or a self-proclaimed Scrooge from mid-November to the New Year. But when you’re trying to conceive, it can be a challenging time.  We’re sharing five tips for managing the holidays when you’re trying to conceive.

Read More

Everyone knows that alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix. But what about before you’re pregnant, during the trying-to-conceive stage? There’s no evidence that the occasional drink—i.e. one or two a week—is going to torpedo your chances of parenthood. But it is true that the more you drink, the greater the likelihood it will have an effect on your health. Here’s what the research says about alcohol and your fertility.

Read More

If you’re no stranger to the telltale signs of seasonal allergies—sneezing, itching, nasal congestion, irritated eyes, the works—you’re likely familiar with antihistamines. When you’re actively trying to conceive, there’s more to understand about histamines, seasonal allergies and how it affects your fertility.

Read More

Choline is an overlooked essential nutrient in many prenatal vitamin formulas, and it's a major oversight. Here at Beli, we've been sounding the alarm for years and it's gratifying to see that the market is beginning to catch up. That's thanks in part to articles like "The 7 Best Choline Supplements for Pregnancy, According to a Prenatal Dietitian" from Parents. Spoiler: Beli for Women made the list.

Read More

While PCOS can be a challenging condition to manage, natural supplements like inositol that are included in Beli Preconception Boost offer a beacon of hope. Inositol's ability to improve insulin sensitivity, hormone balance, and ovulatory function makes it a valuable tool in the PCOS management toolkit. 

Read More

The concern that hormonal contraception affects future fertility is making the rounds on social media again. But research continues to show that all that worry is for naught. While birth control doesn’t cause long-term fertility issues, it can mask them by creating an artificial cycle—something that’s important to understand.

Read More

For many of us, our twenties and even thirties are a time when the focus is on pregnancy prevention. And that’s okay! But even when the idea of motherhood is miles away there is tremendous value in understanding your fertility health and what you can do to support it during these young, carefree days.

Read More

We’re thrilled to introduce Beli Women Preconception, a complementary fertility supplement designed to support fertility health by promoting egg quality, supporting ovulation, balancing hormones, regulating your cycle and helping to manage symptoms of both PCOS and PMS.

Read More

Once a month, PMS symptoms make their unpleasant presence known. And while knowing what’s happening won’t make PMS magically disappear, it can help you manage symptoms by balancing hormones and supporting your reproductive health. Let’s review.

Read More

If you have endometriosis, you can already recite its lengthy list of pretty terrible symptoms. And the standard options for managing those symptoms — medications, hormone therapy, hormonal birth control, estrogen blockers, surgery —  aren’t always great. But there is evidence that a so-called “endometriosis diet” can help.

Read More

With the New Year upon us, there are all kinds of articles and videos making the rounds with predictions of the Zodiac signs most likely to get pregnant in 2024. But here at Beli, we take a much more scientific approach to conception. Here are the top eight things people will do to get pregnant in 2024.

Read More

Research shows that the overall health of both biological parents during the preconception window plays a huge role in everything from conception to pregnancy health to the lifetime health of their baby. Luckily, there are simple steps you can both take to improve your health together.

Read More

Preparing for a baby means doing everything in your power to nourish your fertility health. If you’re totally on board but wondering what that actually means, we’re breaking down the do’s and don’ts for planning a pregnancy.

Read More

There’s a certain magic to the holiday season, whether you’re all-in on the decorations and the family time or a self-proclaimed Scrooge from mid-November to the New Year. But when you’re trying to conceive, it can be a challenging time.  We’re sharing five tips for managing the holidays when you’re trying to conceive.

Read More

Everyone knows that alcohol and pregnancy don’t mix. But what about before you’re pregnant, during the trying-to-conceive stage? There’s no evidence that the occasional drink—i.e. one or two a week—is going to torpedo your chances of parenthood. But it is true that the more you drink, the greater the likelihood it will have an effect on your health. Here’s what the research says about alcohol and your fertility.

Read More