During pregnancy, your body will require more of everything to support the growing fetus: more calories, vitamins, minerals, and essential fats.
Following a healthy diet is, therefore, essential to ensure that you get the required nutrients every day. But sometimes, diet alone will not suffice. In such cases, doctors prescribe prenatal vitamins if you are pregnant or want to get pregnant.
While prenatal vitamins are available as over-the-counter (OTC) supplements, it is best to check with your doctor before taking them. In this MomJunction post, we tell you what prenatal vitamins are, how to choose them, and how long you should take them. As a bonus, we have also listed the ten best prenatal vitamins you may take after consulting your doctor.
What Are Prenatal Vitamins?
Prenatal supplements or prenatal multivitamins are the essential vitamins and minerals that your body requires to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Doctors prescribe these vitamins for women who need adequate nutrition during pregnancy, lactation, and pre-conception(1). Some of the essential vitamins and minerals are folic acid, calcium, iron, vitamins A, B, C, D, magnesium, zinc, thiamine, and iodine.
When Should A Pregnant Woman Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
Ideally, you should start taking prenatal vitamins a month before you plan to get pregnant. You can continue through your pregnancy and after delivery, as long as you are nursing. Taking these supplements before conception helps your body to meet the nutrients requirements to carry on with a successful pregnancy. Also, prenatal supplements can reduce the risk of a few birth defects.
How To Choose The Best Prenatal Vitamins?
Most supermarkets and online stores stock on OTC prenatal vitamins. But how would you know which ones are good for you? Here are a few ways to determine that.
1. Check for approvals: FDA does not regulate the production of these supplements. To assess the ingredients, the presence of harmful substances, and to know if they are safely manufactured, you need to check the symbols of approval from independent organizations.
Some commonly known regulatory bodies include NSF International, ConsumerLab.com, and U.S. Pharmacopeia. However, understand that these seals do not guarantee the effectiveness or safety of the multivitamins (2).
|Nutrients||Value per day|
|Vitamin A (μg)||770|
|Vitamin C (mg)||85|
|Vitamin D (μg)||15|
|Vitamin E (μg)||15|
|Vitamin K (μg)||90|
|Vitamin B9/ Folic acid (mcg)||400|
3. Check the brand name: Do not pick up just any prenatal vitamins bottle with attractive packaging or no seals. Look for reliable brand names that can be trusted for quality and safety.
4. Talk to the professional: When in doubt, talk to your doctor about when to take the prenatal vitamins, what the right dosage is, and which brand to choose. Based on your health condition, he or she would recommend the best options for you.
Keep reading for the list of the best prenatal vitamins for you.
10 Best Prenatal Vitamins In 2019
The list of prenatal supplements includes vegetarian and vegan options that are made with 100% plant-based ingredients. In case you are gluten intolerant, you can take gluten-free vitamins.
1. Garden Of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal Multivitamin
- Each bottle contains 90 capsules; you can take three a day.
- Vegetarian, non-GMP, no fillers/binders, dairy- and gluten-free.
- A multi-nutrient formula that is suitable for pre-conception and pregnancy.
- The supplements contain vitamin C, E, B-complex, iron, and folate, known to be good for heart health and neural tube development.
- The capsules also contain ginger which aids digestion and relieves morning sickness.
2. New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin
- It contains 96 tablets, made with organic herbs and vegetables.
- 100% vegetarian, certified gluten-free and Kosher.
- Contains ginger and helps you with morning sickness.
- Ideal for promoting fetal development and healthy pregnancy.
- The supplements contain ten minerals, 13 vitamins, and 21 pregnancy-safe herbs and botanicals.
- The supplements provide 100% DV of zinc, iron, vitamin B, C, and D3.
3. Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA
- Each bottle contains strawberry-flavored soft gels with DHA from fish oils.
- Supports fetal brain development.
- Dairy and gluten-free supplements made from non-GMO ingredients.
- Could improve immunity in pregnancy.
- Additional vitamin D3 (400 IU) for mood regulation and strong bones.
- DHA omega-3 nutrition is good for emotional well-being, memory, and cognition, as well as to maintain cellular fluidity.
4. Mama Bird Prenatal Multivitamin
- It contains 30 tablets, taken one a day to meet the daily requirements.
- 100% natural, GMP assured for quality.
- Vegetarian-friendly, gluten-free, non-GMO, and no artificial flavors/sweeteners.
- It is a natural energy booster and contains vitamin B complex including methylfolate and methylcobalamin.
- Known to boost immunity and aid good health.
- The supplements include ginger, red raspberry leaf, and organic chamomile to soothe your stomach and prevent nausea.
5. Nature Made Prenatal Multivitamin
- It contains 250 tablets and is a USP verified multivitamin supplement.
- Can take one supplement a day.
- Suitable for pre-conception and pregnancy.
- No artificial colors, preservatives, or yeast used. They are also gluten-free.
- This multivitamin includes essential nutrients such as zinc, iron, folic acid, and vitamin A, C, D, and E.
- Omega-3 fatty acid DHA supports eye and fetal brain development.
6. Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin
- It contains 90 tablets of food-based multivitamins.
- One pill every day offers the necessary nutrition for pregnant women.
- It is vegan and gluten-free and contains no artificial flavors, sweeteners or preservatives.
- Made with pure and tested ingredients.
- It contains vitamins A, C, and D, iron, calcium, and folate.
- The supplements promote bone, blood, cell, immune, and skin health.
7. Sana Expert Natalis Multivitamin and Multimineral Supplement
- It contains 90 capsules.
- No GMO/additives/preservatives, gluten and lactose-free.
- Contains DHA and folic acid, good for the mother and baby.
- The supplements include six minerals and ten vitamins including vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, and E, iron, zinc, chromium, magnesium, and iodine.
- The supplements can be taken from the 13th week of pregnancy.
8. One A Day Women’s Prenatal 1 Multivitamin
- It contains 90 soft gels, taken one a day to meet the daily nutrition requirements.
- Includes essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, DHA, and folic acid.
- Gluten-free; offers 100% DV of folic acid.
- No dairy and no artificial flavors or sweeteners.
- A complete multivitamin formulated with omega 3 DHA, iron, and folic acid.
- Supports bone health, healthy vision, brain, and spinal cord development.
9. Garden of Life Oceans Mom Prenatal DHA
- It contains 30 soft gels of prenatal DHA for pregnant and lactating women.
- Natural strawberry flavor, no fishy aftertaste.
- Dairy and gluten-free prenatal vitamins.
- Supports the development of the nervous system, eyes, and brain in the baby.
- Promotes emotional well-being and positive mood in mothers.
10. The Honest Company Prenatal DHA Vitamin:
- It contains 60 soft gels of DHA that supports eye and brain health during pregnancy.
- No added colors/, sweeteners/, beef or pork derived gelatin.
- It has a strawberry flavor that gives a pleasant taste.
- Comprises of premium Norwegian fish oil.
- Easy to swallow supplements that have been tested for purity, potency, and quality.
Note that the list is only for informational purposes and is not a replacement for doctor consultation.
What Is The Difference Between A Prenatal Vitamin And A Regular Vitamin?
The regular multivitamin supplements help you meet your daily nutritional requirements when you are not pregnant. However, during pregnancy, you need more vitamins and minerals than usual to support yourself and your baby. Prenatal vitamins are formulated to provide extra nutrition for women who are trying to conceive or are pregnant.
How Long Should You Take Prenatal Vitamins After Delivery?
You can continue taking prenatal vitamins throughout your pregnancy and also when you are breastfeeding your baby. However, read the labels carefully because some are meant only for pregnancy while some can be taken during pre-conception, pregnancy, and lactation.
Some prenatal vitamins may make you nauseous while others could upset your tummy. This could be due to the excess iron that these supplements pump into your body. While it is not a major problem to worry about, you may consult your doctor to stay safe. In any case, check with the doctor before you start taking a prenatal supplement.
Did you take any prenatal vitamins during pregnancy? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below.
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2. L. Tarkan; What ‘USP Verified’ and Other Supplement Seals Mean; Consumer Reports (2016)
3. Folic Acid: Frequently Answered Questions & Answers; Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
4. Q. Zhang, C. V. Ananth, Z. Li, and J. C. Smulian; Maternal anemia and preterm birth: a prospective cohort study; International Journal of Epidemilogy (2009)
5. E. Mantovani, F. Filippini, R. Bortolus, and M. Franchi; Folic Acid Supplementation and Preterm Birth: Results from Observational Studies; BioMed Research International (2014)