The 8 Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2020, According to a Dietitian

The right picks to take you through your pregnancy journey

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Klaire Labs at Pure Formulas

"Contains bioavailable and highly-absorbable forms of the key nutrients that are needed by pregnant and nursing women."

Best for Morning Sickness: New Chapter at iHerb

"Includes organic ginger in each dose to improve nausea and vomiting symptoms caused by pregnancy morning sickness."

Best with DHA: Nordic Naturals at The Vitamin Shoppe

"Daily DHA supplementation can help with baby’s healthy cognitive and visual function, and overall brain development."

Best Gummy: Smarty Pants at iHerb

"Smarty Pants doesn't use synthetic colors or artificial flavors in their gummies, and each batch is third party tested for purity."

Best Organic: Garden of Life at Amazon

"With nutrients derived from an organic food blend, this prenatal vitamin is certified-organic by the USDA and non-GMO certified."

Best Probiotic: MegaFood Baby & Me at MegaFood

"Contains strain-specific probiotic bacteria that have been used in research studies, and could help with postpartum depression."

Best with Folic Acid: Thorne at Amazon

"Thorne’s prenatal contains 1,000 micrograms of metabolically active folic acid—283% of the recommended daily intake for folate."

Best with Iron: Rainbow Light at Target

"With 27mg of iron per dose, this prenatal completely covers a pregnant woman's increased daily iron needs."

Nutrient needs are increased during pregnancy to support the growth and development of the fetus while also supporting the health of the mother. But with so many prenatal vitamins out there, how do you make the right choice? It is important to make sure prenatal supplements have been tested by third party labs and offer maximum transparency to consumers.

In addition to purity tests and transparency, it is important to consider the amounts of key prenatal nutrients—such as calcium, vitamin d, iron, folate and choline—that the supplement contains in each dose. Women may need to try a few different prenatal supplements before finding one that does not have undesired side effects, such as nausea or constipation.

Here, the best prenatal vitamins for all your needs.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Klaire Labs

Prenatal & Nursing Formula - 90 Capsules

Courtesy of Klaire Labs

Klaire Labs Prenatal and Nursing Formula Supplement contains bioavailable and highly-absorbable forms of the key nutrients that are needed by pregnant and nursing women. With 222 percent daily value for folate, 333 percent daily value for vitamin D3, and 100 percent daily value for biotin, this product is an excellent choice for covering all nutrient bases for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Free of milk/casein, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, and wheat, it's ideal for women looking to avoid common allergens, as well as those wanting to steer clear of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. 

Best for Morning Sickness: New Chapter

new chapter perfect prenatal vitamins

Courtesy of iHerb

Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy are common occurrences experienced by a large number of women. Ginger has been used for centuries as a herbal remedy for numerous ailments, including digestive issues such as nausea.

A systematic review examined the use of ginger for the treatment of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy and found that ginger significantly improved the symptoms of nausea when compared to a placebo. New Chapter’s Perfect Prenatal vitamin includes organic ginger in each dose to help ease nausea. This supplement is vegetarian, certified non-GMO, and gluten- and synthetic filler-free.

Best with DHA: Nordic Naturals

NORDIC NATURALS® PRENATAL DHA

 Courtesy of GNC

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is one of the three main essential omega 3 fatty acids, the others being alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA is found primarily in seafood.

During pregnancy, DHA is especially important for a baby’s healthy cognitive and visual function and overall brain development. A reference intake for the amount of DHA that should be consumed per day hasn't been set yet, but health experts agree that pregnant and lactating women should consume at least 200 milligrams of DHA per day. Others believe that pregnant women should up their intake to 300 milligrams of DHA per day.

Nordic Naturals’ Prenatal DHA provides 480 milligrams of DHA and 205 milligrams of EPA per serving, and is the official omega-3 supplement of the American Pregnancy Association. All of Nordic Naturals products are non-GMO, use wild-caught fish, and are third-party tested, surpassing the strictest international standards for purity and freshness.

Best Gummy: Smarty Pants

smartypants prenatal formula daily gummy multivitamin

Courtesy of iHerb

Smarty Pants Prenatal gummy vitamins are free of artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and the top eight allergens. Smarty Pants does not use synthetic colors or artificial flavors in their gummies, and each batch is third party tested for purity.

From one four-gummy serving, mothers-to-be will get 200 percent of their daily value for vitamin d and 100 percent of their daily value for folate. The supplement also contains pregnancy essentials like choline, and all eight b vitamins.

One serving contains 6 grams of added sugar, an important note if consumers have been instructed to watch their sugar intake during pregnancy. It is also important to note that the supplement does not contain iron, so it might be contraindicated for vegan or vegetarian mothers-to-be who depend on supplemental iron intake.

Best Organic: Garden of Life

Garden of Life’s myKind Prenatal vitamin is certified-organic by the USDA as well as certified non-GMO. The nutrients contained in this product are derived from an organic food blend. Unlike many other prenatals, this supplement’s serving size is one tablet, which is good news for anyone who dislikes swallowing pills. With 250 percent daily value for vitamin d and 200 percent daily value for folate, it's perfect for pregnant women looking for natural supplementation.

It's important to note, however, that the prenatal vitamin only contains 50 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron and does not contain choline, another critical nutrient for healthy fetus development, so consumers may need to use additional supplements if their diet is lacking in iron and choline consumption.

Given the lower amount of iron, this pick may be ideal for women who find supplemental iron to be constipating, but it's still important to make sure your increased iron needs are met through diet by speaking with a registered dietitian or physician.

Best Probiotic: MegaFlora Baby & Me

MegaFlora Probiotic for Baby & Me

 MegaFood

Research on probiotic supplementation has exploded in recent years. Though more research on the use of probiotics during pregnancy is needed, some studies suggest that supplementing with a probiotic can have a beneficial effect on depression and anxiety symptoms postpartum. Studies have also explored the use of probiotics to support the baby's immune system and prevent eczema and other allergies.

This product contains strain-specific probiotic bacteria that have been used in research studies, such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus (HN001). It also has ginger root to aid nausea and vomiting, and prebiotic fiber from dandelion and beetroot to feed the probiotics.

Megafood is one of the most trusted brands in the supplement industry because of their commitment to transparency. Consumers can head to Megafood’s website and observe product production live 24/7. Their products are certified glyphosate-, GMO-, soy-, gluten-, and dairy-free and have been tested for over 125 pesticides and herbicides.

Best with Folic Acid: Thorne

Adequate intake of folate is known to support healthy development of the fetus’s organs and tissues. In addition, it is especially critical for the closure of the neural tube, which is the precursor to the brain and spinal cord. Though many foods like cereal, bread and grains are enriched with folic acid (the synthetic form of folate that is used in supplements and fortified foods) and other b vitamins, supplementation is still recommended for pregnant women, as their need for this nutrient becomes 50 percent higher. 

It is recommended that women consume 600 micrograms of supplemental folic acid, in addition to the folate found in food. Thorne’s Basic Prenatal contains 1,000 micrograms of metabolically active folic acid—283 percent of the recommended daily intake for folate. In addition, this prenatal is gluten-, dairy-, soy-, and artificial flavor-free.

Thorne’s facility is NSF- and cGMP-compliant and they rigorously test for 760 contaminants to verify the identity, potency, and purity of each ingredient listed on their product labels.

Best with Iron: Rainbow Light

Rainbow Light Prenatal One Prenatal Vitamins

 Target

When you're pregnant, your iron needs increase by 50 percent—18 milligrams for adult women to 27 milligrams per day for pregnant adult women. The growing baby requires adequate iron to support the healthy growth of cells, tissues, and organs and mom needs extra iron to support the increase in blood volume when pregnant.

The extra red blood cells that are produced carry oxygen to the baby and, without enough iron, mom can develop iron-deficiency anemia which has been associated with increased risk of low-birth-weight infants, premature delivery, and infant mortality.

Rainbow Light’s Prenatal One contains 27 milligrams of iron per dose. This completely covers a woman’s needs, which is great news considering that many pregnant women in the United States only consume 15 milligrams of iron per day from their diet.

Unlike many prenatals that require multiple tablets per dose, this product comes in a single tablet serving size. When taking a supplement that contains iron, do not take it with coffee, tea, bran or milk as this can affect absorption.

Overview and Importance of Prenatal Vitamins

By Sydney Greene, MS, RDN 

A prenatal vitamin is a multivitamin that is designed with pregnancy and breastfeeding in mind. The number of vitamins and minerals in these supplements are safe and appropriate when trying to conceive, during pregnancy, and postpartum while you are breastfeeding. Some specialized prenatal vitamins may also have other pregnancy-related additives, including DHA (which is an omega-3 fatty acid).

Why Should I Take Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are like a nutrition safety net that help you maintain the vitamins and minerals your body needs to grow a healthy baby and sustain your pregnancy. They work best when supported by good nutrition.

The most noted example of the benefits of taking prenatal vitamins is the fact that they help you get more folic acid.

When taken prior to pregnancy, prenatal vitamins with folic acid can help drastically reduce the incidence of neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly.

Other vitamins and minerals of importance in pregnancy include iron, calcium, vitamin D, DHA, and iodine. Your body needs twice as much iron as usual during pregnancy to build red cells to bring oxygen to the growing baby. You need 1000 milligrams of calcium per day as your baby develops its bones, teeth, and muscles. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Iodine is needed for the development of your baby's brain and nervous system.

When to Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins

Ideally, you would begin taking prenatal vitamins a few months before you wanted to try to conceive. Taking them once you stop using birth control and begin to try in earnest would be beneficial. However, about half of all pregnancies are unplanned. This is why folic acid, specifically, and a multi-vitamin, in general, is recommended for all women of childbearing age, even when they are not trying to get pregnant.

How to Take Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins can come in many forms: pills, capsules, and even liquids. Discuss with your doctor or midwife which is easiest for you to take. Depending on which prenatal vitamin you have chosen, you may take it once a day or multiple times per day. Follow the instructions provided to gain the maximum benefits. For example, many vitamins work best when taken with water and on an empty stomach with no food consumed for about an hour following.

Choosing a Prenatal Vitamin

Whether pill, capsule, or liquid is best is a personal choice. The biggest determinant should be how well you tolerate the vitamin.

Another factor may be the cost. You can get a prescription for a prenatal vitamin from most doctors or midwives, but generic brands are often just as good. If you have a prescription, your insurance may be more likely to pay, but check your plan since some insurers cover generic vitamins as well. Even if insurance doesn't cover the over-the-counter version consider whether the copayment on a prescription vitamin is more than the full cost of a vitamin off the shelf.

Possible Side Effects of Prenatal Vitamins

There are many women who claim to experience prenatal vitamin side effects. Some women complain that prenatal vitamins cause them to be constipated or have an upset stomach. This may be due to their pregnancy or the actual medication. Switching to a lower dose of iron may reduce constipation. If you need to stay with a special brand or dose for a specific problem, like anemia, your practitioner may ask you to simply alleviate constipation with dietary changes or other medications.

Sometimes morning sickness is a problem with prenatal vitamins. If you find that your stomach is upset when you take the vitamins, try a different time of day (such as at bedtime) or a different prenatal vitamin. You can also cut them in half and take half in the morning and the other half at night.

Do I Have to Take Prenatal Vitamins?

Some mothers choose not to take prenatal vitamins. They may stick to previous multivitamins, which should be done after clearing them with their practitioner. An example of things to look for would be the amount of vitamin A in your supplement. While evidence is not conclusive, some researchers believe that too much vitamin A can potentially cause birth defects.

Other mothers find that switching to children's vitamins eases some of the complaints about the prenatal vitamins. They may also come in a variety of styles. The chewable vitamins or gummy type vitamins are an option.

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Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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