When you’re pregnant, your baby is getting all her nutrients from you.
If you supplement your diet with the best prenatal vitamins for pregnancy, you’ll protect against birth defects.
You’ll also help yourself stay healthy.
When Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
You can start taking prenatal vitamins before you get pregnant when you’re trying to conceive (1).
Otherwise, begin taking them as soon as you know that you’re pregnant.
The first few weeks of your pregnancy are crucial for your baby’s development.
Then, if your doctor agrees, you can continue taking the vitamins while you’re nursing.
Does It Matter What Vitamin I Take?
Yes, it’s essential to choose a prenatal vitamin with the right amount of nutrients.
For example, it’s recommended that you consume at least 600 micrograms of folic acid (AKA folate) each day.
Folic acid is part of the family of B vitamins. It’s vital for your baby to have a healthy brain and spine (2).
Since it’s difficult to get enough folic acid from food alone, doctors usually recommend that you supplement your diet with a prenatal vitamin.
Next, iron is necessary for red blood cells to transport oxygen to developing tissues and organs.
You’ll need to eat about twice the iron that you need when you’re not pregnant. The suggested dose is 27 mg.
After that, you’ll require extra calcium, at least 1000 mg per day. This is to prevent you from losing bone density.
Also, Vitamin D helps your baby’s eyesight develop, and her skin and bones grow. The recommended amount is 600 IU per day.
Finally, iodine is indispensable for your baby’s hearing, physical growth, and brain development (3).
How to Know Which Prenatal Vitamins Are Safe?
It’s smart to discuss prenatal vitamins with your doctor or OB/GYN. They may prefer that you use a prescription vitamin instead of an over-the-counter product.
If you’d like to take a prenatal vitamin that doesn’t require a prescription, there are ways you can protect yourself against fraudulent products.
Select vitamins that are tested for purity and quality and manufactured in the USA. Look for companies that advertise that they follow GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) standards.
Then go the extra mile by choosing brands that are tested by third-party laboratories. They determine whether the ingredients match what’s on the label. And they check for undesirable additions like heavy metals to ensure the products’ purity.
To illustrate, USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia) is one such provider. They acquire samples in stores and test them one to six times per year.
Another is NSF International. They test samples that have been purchased in stores or provided by the manufacturer once a year.
Then there’s ConsumerLab.com that examines products once a year that they buy in stores.
Even UL (Underwriter Laboratories) now tests dietary supplements, too (4).
Can a Woman Take Prenatal Vitamins Without Being Pregnant?
If you’re not pregnant and don’t plan to be, you probably aren’t reading this article.
On the off chance that you’re considering a prenatal vitamin to help you grow out your hair or nails, don’t do it. Some vitamins will build up and become toxic in your body (5).
It’s not worth making yourself sick or worse.
What Vitamins and Supplements Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?
If you are pregnant, you might be tempted to take extra supplements besides prenatal vitamins.
Perhaps you want to stop feeling nauseated or tired. Maybe you’re hoping to sleep better at night.
Always talk about extra supplements with your doctor because there are several problems you need to consider.
To begin with, supplements are unregulated. The manufacturers don’t have to follow the same rules that the pharmaceutical industry does.
Doses may not match what’s on the bottle, and there could be contaminants like arsenic.
Just as bad, supplements are not tested for safety on pregnant or nursing women so we don’t know what effects they may have (6).
Plus, you probably already know that too much caffeine is a no-no while you’re pregnant. Many supplements contain ingredients that are natural sources of caffeine like yerba maté, cocoa, tea, coffee beans, bitter orange, and guarana.
It’s best to skip the supplements while you’re pregnant.
With that said, let’s look at the top prenatal over-the-counter vitamins for pregnancy.
One A Day Women’s Prenatal Multivitamin Two Pill Formula
One A Day is a well-known and trusted manufacturer of multivitamins. I wouldn’t be surprised if your OB/GYN recommended them to you.
Their two-pill formula covers all the basics like folic acid, calcium, and iron. These essentials are in the tablet.
Moreover, it offers DHA. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that improves your baby’s eye and brain development. It’s contained in the liquid gel pill.
If you’ve ever taken fish oil supplements, you might be concerned about burps and flavor. Happily, users report that there is very little fishy flavor from the supplement. Just take it with food as the manufacturer recommends.
One A Day Women’s Prenatal 1 Multivitamin
The One A Day Prenatal 1 softgels pack everything into one pill a day.
They contain folic acid, calcium, Vitamin E, iron, and omega-3 DHA. There are also other essentials like zinc, magnesium, iodine, biotin, niacin, and more.
The gelatin capsules are free of gluten and don’t have artificial sweeteners or corn syrup.
One A Day Women’s Prenatal Multivitamin Gummies
When you’re nauseated, it’s hard to swallow tablets and capsules. You might try prenatal gummies instead.
The only thing these gummies lack is iron.
They’re rich in folic acid, calcium, iodine, biotin, niacin, and vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, and E.
Be aware that they use maltitol syrup, monk fruit extract, mannitol, and sugar to flavor them. There are also food-safe artificial dyes.
Nature Made Prenatal Vitamin with Folic Acid, Iron, Iodine & Zinc, 250 Tablets
Stick to the basics with a prenatal vitamin that has everything you need without flashy extras.
These tablets from Nature Made have no artificial color, flavoring, preservatives, gluten, or yeast. The vitamin is USP-verified to ensure the ingredients match the label.
Oddly, though, the bottle has 250 tablets – not quite enough for an entire pregnancy.
Nature Made Prenatal Gummy Vitamins with DHA & 100% Daily Value of Folic Acid
Nature Made also sells gummies that have all the essential nutrients except iron. You’ll need to eat two of them to get the full dose. And each bottle has a one-month supply.
There is a special benefit to these gummy vitamins. They’re rich in choline.
This component is essential for a baby to develop a healthy brain and spine. It’s also the key to making acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter involved in muscle control and memory (7).
The gummies also have omega-3 EPA and DHA.
GNC Womens Prenatal Formula with DHA 90 softgels
Are you having trouble maintaining a healthy diet while you’re pregnant? Then these vitamins may help take up the slack.
GNC’s softgels provide 1000 micrograms of folic acid plus 600 mg of calcium. They also have 400 IU of vitamin D3, 500 mg of DHA, and iron, too.
There are easy to swallow as they are soft gelatin capsules.
NOW Supplements, Prenatal Gels + DHA with 250 mg
NOW is a respected manufacturer of supplements that’s based in North America. They are a family-owned business that’s been around since 1968. They follow GMP, perform in-house testing, and contract with third-party laboratories to assess their products for purity and quality.
These prenatal gel vitamins require you to take three softgels per day to achieve the full dose. They’re packed with vitamins plus fish oil.
You can check the label for the full ingredients list, but here’s a summary of some highlights.
There are 800 micrograms of folic acid, 400 mg of calcium, 400 IU of vitamin D3, 27 mg of iron, hundred 50 µg of iodine, and 10 mg of choline.
Each softgel is made from natural ingredients including lemon oil to reduce the fishy burp phenomenon.
Solgar – Prenatal Nutrients, 240 Tablets
Solgar’s tablets contain 100% of the RDA (recommended daily amount) of most of the vitamins a pregnant or nursing woman needs.
For example, it has 800 micrograms of folic acid, 400 IU of vitamin D, 1300 mg of calcium, and 27 mg of iron. But to obtain the full dose, you need to take four tablets each day.
On the other hand, the tablets are vegetarian, gluten-free, and KOF-K Kosher-certified. They have no artificial preservatives or sweeteners.
Solimo Prenatal Vitamins & DHA, 90 Gummies, 45-Day Supply
If you shop a lot on Amazon, you’re probably aware that Solimo is their brand of health and beauty products that they distribute. The advantage is that these products end up with lots of reviews to help you get a feel for what people think about them.
Overall, the gummies seem to be well-received. They come in strawberry, lemon, and orange flavors sweetened with sucrose and colored with natural dyes. There is no soy, egg, wheat, dairy, or gluten.
Two gummies provide 50 mg DHA, 10 mg EPA, choline, and nine minerals and vitamins. This includes 800 micrograms of folic acid.
Nature’s Way Alive! Prenatal Multivitamin with Fruit & Veggie Blend, 30 Softgels
Nature’s Way is an American company known for their whole food supplements. They include the Orchard Fruits and Garden Veggies blend in this prenatal multivitamin.
Each serving consists of one softgel that has a tasty strawberry flavor. There are 15 vitamins and minerals total, plus 200 mg of DHA.
The softgels are made from gelatin, glycerin, and other natural ingredients. There is no sugar, yeast, wheat, soy, preservatives, or artificial flavors.
Thorne Research – Basic Prenatal for Pregnant and Lactating Women – 90 Capsules
Thorne Research designed a prenatal vitamin to avoid causing nausea.
It’s easy for your body to absorb and avoids unnecessary additives and allergens. It doesn’t have fish, shellfish, gluten, soy, yeast, dairy, eggs, tree nuts, or peanuts.
The vitamins are made in the USA in a certified facility. They pass four rounds of testing to guarantee purity and quality.
The iron in the vitamins is iron bisglycinate to avoid causing constipation.
You can check the label for full details, but here’s a hint at the rest of the ingredients. For every three capsules, you’ll get folate (folic acid), iodine, Vitamins A, C, D, and E, and several other essential elements.
TheraNatal Complete | Prenatal Vitamin & Mineral Supplement (13 Week Supply)
Each dose of TheraNatal consists of one softgel and two tablets. This is a product made in the USA and certified by both NSF and IFOS.
The label lists essentials like 1000 micrograms of folate, 27 mg of iron, 140 mg of calcium, 50 mg of zinc, tuna 50 mg of choline, and 300 mg of DHA.
Vitafusion Simply Good Prenatal Essential Multivitamin, 80 Count
Vitafusion offers tasty gummies vitamins without iron added. They have as much folic acid as two cups of spinach, but they taste like pears and honey.
In fact, they contain honey and pear juice right alongside fish oil to provide DHA.
While you won’t get the full selection of vitamins and minerals that you would with some brands, you’ll at least get vitamins C and D.
Prenatal Vitamin Supplement Shake – Baby Booster Tahitian Vanilla
Sometimes swallowing pills is a real pain. In that case, try this prenatal vitamin powder. Mix it with water or milk and drink your multivitamin instead.
It also provides 20 grams of protein per serving. That’s helpful when you’re having trouble eating proper meals.
Fortunately, the formula is free of caffeine, soy, gluten, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives.
It also tastes better than the average powder. The Tahitian vanilla flavor is smooth and less likely to cause nausea. It’s also boosted with Vitamin B6 to reduce queasiness.
Take care of both your and your baby’s health by taking one of the best prenatal vitamins for pregnancy.
They provide the boost you both need as your baby develops in the womb.
They may also help you provide healthy nutrition while you nurse.
If you have a favorite prenatal vitamin, leave me a comment below. Tell me what you liked about it.
1. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/pregnancy/pre-pregnancy-health/what-are-prenatal-vitamins accessed September 19, 2019
2. https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Nutrition-During-Pregnancy?IsMobileSet=false published February 2018, accessed September 19, 2019
3. https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/prenatal-vitamins#1 by Kecia Gaither, posted October 21, 2018, accessed September 19, 2019
4. https://www.consumerreports.org/vitamins-supplements/what-usp-verified-and-other-supplement-seals-mean/ by Laurie Tarkan, published July 27, 2016, accessed September 19, 2019
5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/prenatal-vitamins/faq-20057922 by Katherine Zeratsky, published July 21, 2017, accessed September 19, 2019
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1804304/ by Amy Schweitzer, published 2006, accessed September 19, 2019
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choline accessed September 19, 2019