What are the best prenatal vitamins?
A healthy and balanced diet is important when trying to conceive or during pregnancy. You will get most of your vitamins from the food you eat.
Your body will benefit from extra nutrients during pregnancy. A prenatal vitamin will ensure your body gets enough of these key nutrients.
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When it comes to buying a prenatal vitamin there is so much choice out there. It’s difficult to know where to start and Stork Mama is here to help you out.
We’ve created this guide to explain the features that are best to suited to your needs.
But first, we’ve hunted high and low for the best prenatal vitamins out there, so you don’t have to.
First let’s see what’s available.
Prenatal Vitamin Comparison
|Rainbow Light Prenatal||Tablet||1 Per day||$$||4.5 Stars|
|New Chapter Perfect Prenatal||Tablet||3 Per Day||$$$||4.6 Stars|
|Garden of Life RAW Prenatal||Capsule||3 Per Day||$$$||4.6 Stars|
|Vitafusion Prenatal||Gummy||2 Per Day||$||4.4 Stars|
|Nature Made Prenatal||Soft Gel||1 Per Day||$||4.4 Stars|
|Intranaturals One-a-Day||Tablet||1 Per Day||$$||4.8 Stars|
|Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA||Soft Gel||1 Per Day||$$$||4.7 Stars|
|ZenWise Prenatal||Tablet||2 Per Day||$||4.7 Stars|
|Nature's Plus Prenatal||Liquid||1 Per Day||$$||4.3 Stars|
Top 5 Best Prenatal Vitamins
Rainbow Light Prenatal
Pros: one per day, gentle on the stomach, includes essential vitamins, affordable
Cons: slight smell, quite large
The Rainbow Light Prenatal are the bestselling prenatal vitamins on Amazon. These vitamins are highly recommend by OB GYNs as they contain all the vitamins you need for pregnancy and more. The tablet itself is quite large and we wouldn’t recommend if you struggle with tablets. It has a smooth coating making it easier to swallow. There is a slight smell to them in the pot, but this doesn’t give an aftertaste. We recommend you take them with food to prevent causing any stomach upset as they do contain iron. You only need one a day, so a 150 count pack will last you around 5 months.
New Chapter Perfect Prenatal
Pros: easy to swallow, take on empty stomach, organic, gluten free, suitable for vegetarians
Cons: need to take 3 times a day, contains soy
The New Chapter Perfect Prenatal is the best option if you struggle to swallow pills. These tablets are small in size, although you need to take them three times a day to get the full dosage. This is easier than swallowing one large tablet. The ingredient are every easy on the stomach and won’t cause upset, even without food. They contain all the pregnancy essentials and more, just remember to take the full dose. Theses tablets are suitable for those with sensitivities as they are organic, gluten free, no artificial colours or flavours. A 192 count will last for around 2 months use when taken 3 times a day.
Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal
Pros: all natural, GMO free,
Cons: expensive, large capsule, aftertaste
The Garden of Life RAW Prenatal is the highest quality and most natural option. You need to take them 3 times a day for optimal effects. The ingredients are easily absorbed, and you will notice a difference to the way to feel and your energy levels. The capsule size is quite large, however it is soft and powder filled so softer to swallow. You can open the capsule and add the content to a smoothie, however it leaves an aftertaste. A 180 count packet will last two months of instructed use. They are on the expensive side, however they are very high quality ingredients.
Intranaturals One-a-Day Prenatal
Pros: one per day, easy on the tummy, non GMO, soy free, USA made
Cons: large tablets, strong smell
For a highly rated and balanced prenatal check out the Intranaturals One-a-Day. This supplement contains organic sources of the essential nutrients including iron and folate. The tablets are quite large (similar to Rainbow Light) but the texture is smooth and you only need to take one a day. The tablets aren’t coated so they absorb quickly and don’t irritate the stomach. We really dislike the smell of these tablets as it was rather off-putting, which isn’t the best when your already queasy. Fortunately it doesn’t leave an aftertaste. A 60 tablet count will last for 2 month of use.
Nature Made Prenatal
Pros: affordable, soft capsule, contains DHA
Cons: large capsule, fishy smell
The Nature Made Prenatal is the best affordable, all in one option. This supplement contains 200mg of DHA as well as all the vital pregnancy vitamins. If taking numerous tablet is a problem for you then this allows you to get it all in one go. The tablets are quite large, however they are a soft gel which makes them softer to swallow. Unfortunately the DHA gives them a strong fishy smell which can be nauseating in early pregnancy. They have quite a high dose of iron so they may irritate your tummy, taking with food should reduce this. A 150 gel count will last you 5 months taking one a day.
Prenatal Vitamin Basics
During pregnancy there are a few key vitamin which need to increase in your diet. This will ensure you and baby have enough for health growth through the pregnancy.
Folic acid is an important vitamin to take in early pregnancy to avoid baby developing spina bifida. Ideally you should take this vitamin before pregnancy or as soon as you find out. A daily dose of 400 mcg should be taken up until 12 weeks pregnant. Supplements are essential as it’s difficult to get the recommended dose from your diet alone. If you have a high risk pregnancy or raised BMI you should take a 5 mg (5000 mcg) dose. You are best to discuss your recommended dose with your doctor.
Not all pregnant women need Iron supplements but it helps to prevent anaemia. You want to avoid anaemia in pregnancy as it can make you breathless, have palpitations and extremely fatigued. Being anaemic can also cause postnatal complications if you lose a lot of blood at delivery. The recommend dose is 30 to 50 mg a day.
The downside to taking iron supplements is that it can cause stomach upset or constipation. You may do better on a liquid iron than a tablet form.
Caffeine drinks such as tea, coffee or cola can block the absorption of iron. It’s best to cut these from your diet especially if you are known to be anaemic. Vitamin C rich foods such as strawberries or fresh orange juice will increase your iron absorption.
This vitamin is essential for your babies bone growth. Lack of vitamin D can cause a bone deformity called rickets. Vitamin D is found in food but you may struggle to get it from this source alone. We also make it when exposed to sunlight which is good news if you live in a warm and sunny state.
Those at higher risk of Vitamin D Deficiency:
- Area with low levels of sunshine
- Pregnant over winter/spring months (November-April)
- Dark Skin Tones (African, Caribbean, Hispanic or South Asian heritage)
We recommend you take a 1,000 to 2,000 IU vitamin D supplement daily if you fall into any of the above categories.
Calcium is another vitamin essential for bone growth. Most intake will come from diary food such as milk, cheese or yogurt. If your calcium levels are low a supplement of 1,000 mg per day is recommended.
You will benefit from a calcium supplement if you are
- dairy intoletant
- on a paleo diet
Omega 3 DHA
Omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in the diet will improve brain development and vison. A daily dose of 350-450 mg is recommended. It’s most found in oily fish, however excessive amount of oily fish can increase a toxic mercury intake. A supplement can boost your levels and remove the mercury risk.
Types of Supplement
Tablets – These are the most common type, inexpensive and easily available. You may struggle with tablet if you find them difficult to swallow, or dislike the aftertaste. Check if they are vegan friendly as some brands may use binders made from animal by products.
Gel Capsules – Similar in shape to tablets, however the gel inside makes them softer to swallow. Gel capsule can sometime be more expensive to buy. These are usually not vegan friendly as the capsule is commonly glycerine.
Gummies – If you struggle to swallow medication these can help. Like a child’s vitamin tablet or a chewy candy which is easily swallowed. The jelly texture of this type makes them unsuitable for vegans.
Liquid – This form of vitamin is often recommend for those who struggle to absorb ingredients. It also makes the absorption a lot easier on the tummy, especially if iron is included. Liquid iron is not as widely available and can expensive to buy.
Benefits of Prenatal Vitamins
Tasking a prenatal vitamin can help your baby develop through vital growth periods. Conditions such as spina bifida, rickets and low birth weight can all be prevented if you get an adequate intake of essential vitamins.
If you are vegan or vegetarian you may be cutting out large food groups from your diet. Usually vitamin b12 and iron are lacking from these diets. Other specialist diets may be required for religious reasons or due to food intolerances. Supplements can help boost your levels but its best to discuss a pregnancy diet with a nutritionist.
If you suffer ongoing vomiting in the early stages, you may not feel like eating much. Sickness can often lead to a lack of nutrients, so a prenatal vitamin can add to what you are taking in.
A boost of iron and vitamin C will help to prevent you from becoming anaemic in pregnancy. Health red blood levels are important during pregnancy and the postnatal period.
Avoid vitamin A
It’s important you use a specified prenatal vitamin to avoid vitamin A (retinol). Regular multivitamins will contain vitamin A which is known to be harmful to your baby in excess.
Coping with pregnancy
Additional nutrients such as zinc, magnesium and vitamin b12 can improve your brain function and mental health. Pregnancy ailments such as aches, swelling and fatigue can be reduced with a prenatal vitamin and healthy diet.
Disadvantages of Prenatal Vitamins
Some vitamins such as iron can cause upset in the digestive system. It’s common to get an upset tummy, diarrhoea or constipation. You may want to reduce the amount or try to get your vitamins from food sources.
Usually you are recommended to take vitamins before, during and after pregnancy. Depending on the dosage required, the cost can quickly add up. If you are on a tight budget you may prefer to invest the money into fresh fruits and vegetables.
Vitamins supplements are used to enhance the levels you naturally absorb from your diet. A prenatal vitamin will not make up for a poor diet. Most vitamins and minerals will absorb in higher levels from food sources rather than from a vitamin.
This is the criteria we used to assess all the prenatal vitamins researched for review. You can use this before buying pack to choose one which best suits your needs.
We’ve discussed each type of supplement above. They type you choose will depend on how easy it is to swallow, availability, cost and even vegan friendly.
Some prenatal supplements are very large to swallow. You may need to take them two to three times a day. Consider if this is too excessive for you. Larger tablets may also come in smaller volumes or require more storage space.
Some vitamins will have a strong taste after swallowing. This may make you gag or be off putting. Strong smells and tastes in pregnancy may even cause you to feel nauseous or be sick. Worst offenders are often iron or omega 3 fish oils.
The supplement should contain all the essential nutrient you require. You want to avoid vitamin A or any other mineral which are known to cause you upset. If your vitamin is lacking you may need to take additional specific supplements.
You will find highly rated prenatal vitamins available for all budgets. The price will depend on the ingredients, quantity and quality. Consider how long a pack will last for the cost. Expect to pay around $10-$40 for a 2-8 month supply.