Pregnant women almost always need supplementation to help grow a healthy baby. Take a look at our picks for the top five best prenatal vitamins on the market so you know which ones to choose.
Prenatal vitamins are one of the essential ingredients in a healthy pregnancy. While some researchers debate just how effective these vitamins are, the vast majority of doctors recommend them to their pregnant patients.
It’s difficult to get all of the vitamins and nutrients you need through your diet. When you’re pregnant, the growing baby needs even more of your nutrients. If you weren’t getting enough of these anyway, you would increase the risk of harm on both you and your future child.
There are a lot of options for prenatal vitamins out there. In this guide, we took a look at five of the most popular and most effective prenatal vitamins on the market.
How We Developed Our Rankings
We always strive for accuracy in our reviews, but finding the best prenatal vitamins is a bit more difficult than some of the other topics we’ve covered. Unlike products like diapers, it’s tough to test any of these prenatal vitamins in a practical setting.
For that reason, we focused most of our efforts on reading reviews, looking at what doctors recommend, and viewing the science behind prenatal care. The ingredients list is the most important aspect of our rankings, and vitamins that didn’t have the right components didn’t make our list.
Take a look at some of the characteristics we considered when we created our rankings. This will give you a better idea of where we stand on the best prenatal vitamins.
A doctor’s recommendation goes a long way with any over-the-counter supplement, especially when it comes to pregnancy.
Prenatal vitamins aren’t like other products. You can’t test them to see whether or not they work, then choose a new product if they don’t. Other than a few elements – like the limited side effects of prenatal vitamins – there isn’t too much to compare apart from the ingredients list.
This is where a doctor’s recommendation can come in handy. While it’s difficult to get an OB-GYN seal of approval on all of the products we listed below, we did our best to include those with doctor-backed reputations at the top of our rankings.
Again, there isn’t too much testing we can do regarding prenatal vitamins. We don’t exactly have a stable of pregnant women who we can ask about the efficacy of each vitamin type. Even if we did, there are only a few elements that would make a woman dislike a prenatal vitamin, and even fewer they could point to as a positive trait.
We listed some of the must-have nutrients you will find in the best prenatal vitamins in the section below. Outside of that list, there are only a few characteristics we could consider while creating our rankings, and popularity is one of them.
Popularity signifies a few things. First, it lets us know that doctors are probably recommending these vitamins to their patients. Either that or women are recommending these vitamins to their pregnant friends.
User feedback is always something that we consider when developing our rankings, and popularity is a signifier of positive feedback. We took a look at some of the more popular vitamins on Amazon, so you know what other women are buying.
Must-Have Prenatal Nutrients
The biggest factor we took into consideration was the ingredients list in these prenatal vitamins. While there is a standard ingredients list that prenatal vitamins will contain, the multivitamin market is never universal. Just like any vitamins out there, some brand will have better ingredients than others will.
Below, we’ve listed the ingredients – starting with the two most important: folic acid and iron:
- Folic Acid
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
There are some other ingredients you’ll find in prenatal vitamins as well, but these are the most important. You should avoid any prenatal vitamins that don’t have sufficient levels of any of the above-listed ingredients.
Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients in prenatal vitamins since women require more of it when they’re pregnant.
Folic acid helps prevent congenital heart defects, preterm birth, and neural tube development. Pregnant women need more folic acid than non-pregnant women. The catch is that it’s very difficult to find folate through diet. It’s one of the nutrients that requires supplementation.
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Top 5 Best Prenatal Vitamins
Here’s a review of the top five prenatal vitamins we’ve seen.
1. Nature Made Prenatal + DHA 200 mg Multivitamin Softgels
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Nature Made is one of the leading natural supplement brands on the market, and their prenatal vitamins have everything you’re looking for and more – literally. Of course, the vitamins are packed with essential ingredients like folic acid and iron, but the big selling point is the 200 mg of DHA.
DHA is vital for fetal brain development, and 200 mg is much more than most of the other prenatal vitamins offer. Even when these companies advertise DHA, we’ve found that they don’t always live up to the promise. With Nature Made, you know exactly what you’re getting in their soft gels.
2. One A Day Women’s Prenatal Multivitamins
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The One A Day Women’s Prenatal Multivitamins are some of the most popular on the market, so it’s clear that a lot of women are getting this recommendation from their doctors. These multivitamins don’t appear to contain as much DHA as the Nature Made vitamins we listed above, but still more than a lot of the competition.
One A Day is one of the most recognizable vitamin brands on the market, and for a good reason. They provide a healthy blend of vitamins and nutrients that pregnant women and their growing babies need.
3. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal Vegetarian Multivitamin
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The Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal Vegetarian Multivitamin is a vegetarian-friendly option that is relatively popular in its own right. This vitamin is unique because it uses natural folate instead of folic acid.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, and some women prefer to get their supplements in their natural form. It isn’t too much more beneficial to receive your folate this way, but the vegetarian option will be a preference for some.
Other than that, the Vitamin Code product has the nutrients you’re looking for in your prenatal vitamin. These are a bit bigger than some of the others we’ve seen, but that won’t be a deterrent for most customers.
4. Vitafusion Prenatal Gummy Vitamins
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Those who don’t like taking bills will have a good choice in the Vitafusion Prenatal Gummy Vitamins. These are the most popular chewy prenatal vitamins on the market, and for a good reason. They provide the nutrients pregnant women need and they taste pretty good as well.
The ingredients you’ll find in these are standard. You have your vitamins, folic acid, iron, and Omega-3 among other ingredients. This chewy vitamin is ideal for pregnant women who can’t or don’t like taking pills. You’ll receive about as many nutrients from these chewables than any of the other pills we’ve listed.
5. Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin
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The Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin is another popular prenatal multivitamin that a lot of doctors recommend. Like all of the prenatal vitamins we’ve included on this list, you can find all of the essential nutrients you need for a happy, healthy, mother and child.
The unique addition to the Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin is probiotics. Probiotics are a buzz-word in the supplement and nutrition industry these days. They support positive stomach bacteria growth which helps with digestion. These can be particularly beneficial for pregnant women who sometimes struggle with regular bowel movements during their pregnancy.
Prenatal Vitamins Buyer/User Guide
Now that we’ve covered the best prenatal vitamins available online, it’s time to give some advice on the topic. A lot of women will have a few questions about when to start taking prenatal vitamins, and when they can cut them out of their routine.
Ahead, we’ve included some research-backed advice on prenatal vitamins. Take a look at this section so you can better understand their usages.
Don’t Take Too Much Iron
There aren’t too many side effects of prenatal vitamins. The few there are related to an upset stomach or stool problems. You can limit the feeling of an upset stomach by taking prenatal vitamins with food, but some prenatal vitamins won’t work for everyone.
Some women experience constipation, diarrhea, and dark stools after taking prenatal vitamins. Most of the time, Iron is the ingredient that is causing these effects.
Some prenatal vitamins target women who have an iron deficiency. These women need additional iron supplementation, especially during pregnancy.
These high-iron supplements aren’t for everyone, though. Studies have linked them to the side effects we listed above, and those who don’t need high iron supplementation are overdoing it with these prenatal vitamins.
Make sure to check the label before you buy. While iron supplementation is usually a good thing during pregnancy, a lot of women don’t need the high iron content that some of these prenatal vitamins contain.
When Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins provide a host of benefits for both the baby and the mother. They prevent birth defects and make sure a woman’s body has all the nutrients it needs to incubate a healthy baby.
There is a bit of debate on just how effective prenatal vitamins are, but no one is arguing that they’re harmful to the baby. A lot of women have the question: when should I start taking prenatal vitamins?
The answer is – essentially – as soon as you can. You should even place an order if you suspect you might be pregnant since prenatal vitamins play a critical role in the earliest stages of development.
In fact, a lot of researchers suggest that you start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as you start trying to get pregnant. Others go further – claiming that women of reproductive age should take these vitamins just in case.
A baby’s neural tube will begin to develop during the first month of pregnancy. After some time, the neural tube will develop into the brain and spinal cord – two pretty important body parts in a growing baby.
The first month of pregnancy is also often the most unsure you’ll be throughout the process. It’s possible that you won’t even realize your pregnant at this time – especially if you’re not actively trying.
In short, you should start taking prenatal vitamins as early as humanly possible. Start taking them before you become pregnant if you can.
Those who are taking steps to avoid getting pregnant probably don’t need to worry about prenatal vitamins, but it’s always safe to have them. The nutrients can be beneficial to health, non-pregnant women as well, so it won’t hurt to take them just in case.
How Long Should You Take Prenatal Vitamins?
Taking prenatal vitamins before and during pregnancy is easy enough to understand; but when should you stop taking them? Some can quit their prenatal regimen right after they have a baby, but doctors recommend that you keep taking these supplements if you’re going to breastfeed your baby.
Passing nutrients onto your child doesn’t stop at birth if you plan on breastfeeding. Iron, folic acid, and the other vitamins and nutrients in prenatal vitamins will continue to play a role in supplementing both yourself and your baby.
Breastfeeding is a bit different regarding nutrient needs. You don’t need as much of some vitamins as you did while you were pregnant, but you need more of others. Essential vitamins, for instance, will be more necessary for breastfeeding women than ever. You’ll need more of the vitamins B12, C, E, and B6 than you did when you were pregnant. Your iron, niacin, calcium, and thiamine needs will stay about the same as well.
It’s possible that your doctor may recommend switching to a multivitamin at this stage, but that probably won’t be the case. It’s much simpler to stay on your prenatal vitamin regimen, which will give you all the nutrients you and your growing baby need.