Whether you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, you’ve probably heard that it’s important to take a daily prenatal vitamin. Doing so increases your chances of having a healthy pregnancy—and baby—by filling in the nutritional gaps that may exist in your diet. (Even the healthiest eaters likely aren’t getting enough of the nutrients they need!)
That’s where prenatal vitamins come in, as they’re specially formulated to keep you and your baby healthy. They’re very similar to a women’s multivitamin with the addition of key nutrients, such as folic acid, iron, and calcium that help facilitate a healthy pregnancy, explains Kameelah Phillips, M.D., an OB/GYN in New York City. Prenatals are designed to be taken orally once daily, ideally starting at least one month prior to conception, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
What are the benefits of taking a prenatal vitamin?
Eating a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for your body and your growing baby during pregnancy—and this starts with ensuring that your plate is filled with the optimal nutrients. During pregnancy, women need additional folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids to help support the growth and development of a healthy baby, explains Sherry Ross, M.D., an OB/GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. “These key ingredients are needed specifically for spine, bone, brain and red blood cell development,” she says.
There’s plenty of research that’s demonstrated a strong link between taking folic acid during pregnancy and preventing neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. By consuming the 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid in your prenatal vitamin daily, you can lower your risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect.
The added iron found in many prenatal vitamins is also crucial for helping your body create and deliver enough blood and oxygen to your developing fetus. Adequate iron levels help prevent pregnancy-induced anemia, or low red blood cells, which is common in the second and third trimesters.
Depending on specific medical issues or factors pertaining to your pregnancy, some women may require more than the recommended dosing, notes Anate Brauer, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at Shady Grove Fertility in New York City and assistant professor of OB/GYN at NYU School of Medicine. “If a woman is vitamin D deficient, for example, she will require higher doses of vitamin D,” says Dr. Brauer. “A history of neural tube defects in a prior pregnancy or taking specific medications may require higher doses of folic acid—and twin pregnancies require higher doses of calcium and often iron.”
How to find the best prenatal vitamin
As with many other dietary supplements, there is certainly no shortage of prenatal vitamin brands on the market. Because vitamins and supplements are not regulated by the FDA, it can be hard to know which one is best for you. Dr. Brauer usually advises her patients to get the local pharmacy brand and to double check that it has proper amounts of folic acid and DHA. The ACOG recommends prenatal vitamins that contain at least 600 mcg of folic acid, 200 mg of DHA, 27 mg of iron, 1,000 mg of calcium, and 600 IU of vitamin D.
It’s also important to pick a pill that you can commit to taking daily. “If you don’t do well with large pills or have nausea, then look for a gummy or a small pill,” suggests Dr. Phillips. “If you have acid reflux, then avoid pills with fishy DHEA oil.” If your supplement is giving you side effects like constipation or gastrointestinal issues, try a different brand.
When it comes to cost, a higher price tag doesn’t always mean a better vitamin. “Other than branding, color shape, and size, there is likely little difference between generic over-the-counter and prescribed prenatal vitamins,” says Dr. Brauer. Now that you’ve brushed up on your prenatal vitamin knowledge, here are the best brands to consider.
Ritual Essential Prenatal
This supplement is packed with 12 critical nutrients (vitamin B12, activated folate, vegan D3, vitamin K2, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, boron, chelated iron, and a form of magnesium), and its formula is backed by a full scientific advisory board comprised of doctors, certified nutritionists, and research scientists. The result? A prenatal vitamin that’s full of nutrients and free of colorants, synthetic fillers, and GMOs.
New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins
These might seem pricey, but a single bottle comes with enough pills to last you three full months of pregnancy, which is more than what most prenatal vitamin bottles provide. They’re certified organic and loaded with the vitamins you need during pregnancy, including folate, B vitamins, vitamin D3, vitamin C, and zinc, as well as the addition of organic ginger, which can help soothe your stomach (especially useful if you’re battling bouts of morning sickness!).
Olly The Essential Prenatal Gummy Multivitamin
If you’re looking for a prenatal vitamin that actually tastes good, try these naturally flavored prenatal gummies. They contain all of the necessary vitamins you need for a healthy pregnancy, including folic acid, vitamin D and omega-3 DHA, in a tasty, two-dose portion that you won’t mind munching every day.
Nature Made Prenatal Multivitamin + DHA
With a hefty serving of DHA, a key omega-3 fatty acid to support your growing baby, along with folic acid, vitamins A, C, D3, and E, calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, zinc and all eight B vitamins, there’s really not much you could be missing when you take this prenatal vitamin. It comes with a 90-day supply since you only have to take 1 softgel daily (unlike other brands that require you to take two). This brand is also USP VERIFIED, which means it has been independently tested for quality and purity.
Best Nest Wellness Mama Bird Prenatal Multivitamin
Created by a neurologist and mother, this prenatal vitamin is unique in many ways. In addition to being vegan and free of soy, yeast, sugar, preservatives, GMOs, nuts, as well as artificial colors and flavors, it’s also formulated with methylated folate and B12. This is important for women who have a certain gene variant called MTHFR, which can make it hard to convert the type of folic acid found in the majority of prenatal vitamins. The methylated kind, however, can be easily absorbed by individuals with this gene variant.
SmartyPants Prenatal Formula
Here’s another prenatal vitamin that contains methylated folate, as well as a healthy serving of all of the key nutrients your pregnancy needs. If you suffer from any allergies or have certain dietary restrictions, you’re good to go with these gummy prenatals, since they’re free of milk, eggs, fish, peanuts, tree nut allergens, soy, gluten, wheat and GMOs. They’re also third-party tested and contain zero synthetic colors or artificial sweeteners.
Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal Vitamins
Hate swallowing pills and not really into the whole gummy vitamin thing? Consider trying a liquid prenatal vitamin, like this one by Pink Stork. It contains all of the recommended nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy in an easy-to-swallow liquid that you can mix right into your favorite beverage. It’s free of gluten, GMOs and all animal products. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that this prenatal only contains 20 mg of calcium (the recommended dose is 1,000 mg), so you may need to supplement with food or another pill.
GNC Prenatal Formula Without Iron
Not everyone tolerates iron well—and some women may get enough from their diet alone (it’s in red meat, seafood, beans, dark, leafy greens, etc.). So, if you’d rather avoid consuming it in your prenatal, then this brand is a great choice. It contains all of the necessary nutrients you need (with 1,000 mg of folic acid!) without any iron. Just make sure to check that your levels aren’t low before choosing a non-iron-containing prenatal like this one.
Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA
As you can see by the bottle, this prenatal is packed with the DHA you need for a healthy pregnancy. It contains 480 mg of DHA in each serving, which is almost twice the recommended amount by the American Pregnancy Association. This brand is also eco-friendly, with a big emphasis on sustainable and ethical practices and an assurance that they are free of environmental toxins including heavy metals.
MegaFood Baby & Me 2 Prenatal Multi
This brand gets top marks for earning a stamp of approval from NSF International, a third party that ensures certain products meet public health and safety standards. The brand is also made with real, nutrient-rich foods such as broccoli and oranges and contains methylfolate instead of regular folate. It’s also free of GMOs, gluten, soy and dairy, and is tested for 125+ herbicides and pesticides.
The Honest Company Prenatal Once Daily
If you prefer popping a pill—but can’t stand the taste of most prenatals—try this vitamin, which is coated with natural vanilla to make it way easier to swallow. It’s chock full of essential nutrients and contains digestive enzymes derived from tropical fruits that make it especially easy on your stomach.
Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin
With its high potency of zinc, this prenatal supplement is particularly helpful for those seeking added immune support. Of course, it also contains the necessary nutrients for a healthy pregnancy, including vitamins D, B2, B5, folate, calcium, iron, and zinc. If you’re dealing with bouts of morning sickness, this one might be easier on your stomach since it contains a digestive support blend containing plant-based enzymes.
Thorne Research Basic Prenatal Supplement
These prenatals are nothing fancy, but they contain all of the key nutrients you need during pregnancy—without any of the fillers or additives your body doesn’t need. They have rave reviews from moms-to-be on Amazon and are known to be helpful in reducing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.
Garden of Life Organics Prenatal Multi
These organic, prenatal gummy vitamins are known for their unprocessed development and the fact that there are nine organic whole fruits contained in every bottle. They have everything you need to give yourself the best shot at a healthy pregnancy, including 600 mcg of folate and 900 IU of vitamin D3. They’re also vegan, USDA organic, and free of gluten, GMOs, and artificial colorings and flavors.
Solimo Prenatal & DHA Supplement
You really can’t beat the price when it comes to these Amazon-branded prenatal vitamins, which have pretty impressive reviews. They contain all of the nutrients you need in a gummy form with flavor notes of orange, lemon, and strawberry. They’re soft and easy to chew; plus, they come in a one-and-a-half month supply, which means 90 gummies per bottle.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io