7 Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2019

Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2019

May 24, 2019
En Español

Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2019

Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2019
Even if there's just a chance you'll get pregnant, popping a daily prenatal could deliver key benefits.Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2019

You already know that good nutrition is a must during pregnancy.

That’s why your shopping cart looks like a rainbow, and you’re planning meals with all the food groups. But let’s be honest: it’s hard to know if you’re really getting all the vitamins and minerals you and your baby need.

That’s where prenatal vitamins come in. They don’t replace a balanced diet, but instead act like backup—making sure you don’t fall short on the essential nutrients you need during pregnancy.

Do You Need Prenatal Vitamins?

You might be thinking, What’s with prenatal vitamins? Your regular multivitamin just won’t cut it. It doesn’t have the extra nutrients needed for pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins contain more folic acid (to prevent brain and spinal birth defects) and iron (to increase your body’s oxygen supply for your baby).

Prenatal vitamins also deliver the extra amounts of nutrients needed during various stages of your little one’s development. For example, vitamin D and calcium are especially needed to build strong bones and teeth during the third trimester of pregnancy.

When Do You Need Prenatal Vitamins?

Ideally, you should start taking prenatal vitamins at least a month before conception and throughout your entire pregnancy from 4 weeks pregnant to whenever labor and birth starts. In fact, it’s often best to take a prenatal vitamin every day if there’s a chance you could get pregnant at all, even if you’re not planning for it. That’s because crucial neurological development takes place during the first month of pregnancy, when folic acid would offer the most protective benefits. (If you are trying to conceive and think you might be pregnant, check out our guide to the best pregnancy tests.)

How Do You Choose Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are readily available over the counter and a prescription is generally unnecessary. (Note: check with your insurance to see if they cover prenatal vitamins. If so, you’ll likely need your doctor to give you a prescription for them.)

Every vitamin can differ in the types and amounts of nutrients it contains because specific vitamin ingredients aren’t regulated by the FDA. If the vitamin you choose doesn’t contain the full recommended daily amount of a nutrient, be sure to eat foods that are high in that vitamin or mineral.

When shopping for prenatal vitamins look for these four primary nutrients that are especially important during pregnancy (amounts are per day and recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists):

  • Folic acid: 600 mcg
  • Iron: 27 mg
  • Calcium: 1,000 mg (note: most prenatal vitamins don’t contain this much calcium, so you if don’t get enough from your diet, talk to your doctor about taking a separate calcium supplement)
  • Vitamin D: 600 IU

The following vitamins are also essential during pregnancy, and you may not get enough of them through diet alone. Having these in your prenatals are helpful too:

  • Vitamin A: 770 mcg (Note: The safest form of Vitamin A is beta-carotene or other carotenoids.)
  • Vitamin C: 85 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 1.9 mg
  • Vitamin B12: 2.6 mcg

Consider it a bonus if you find a prenatal vitamin that also contains omega-3 fatty acids. There’s strong evidence indicating that omega-3 fatty acids (particularly DHA)–a fat found in some types of fish–may play an important role in the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. The March of Dimes recommends you get 200 mg of DHA a day through diet or supplementation.

Vitamins come in multiple forms: pill, soft-gel capsule and gummies. For some moms-to-be, swallowing and holding down a pill can be difficult especially when you’re queasy due to morning sickness. If that’s your situation, try a soft-gel capsule or a gummy vitamin. Note: gummy vitamins do not contain iron, so you’ll need an extra iron supplement for that.

To make shopping for prenatal vitamins easier, we found several winning options for you to consider.

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Small, But Mighty

Hate swallowing horse-sized pills? You’re not alone. These Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins are loaded with folic acid, iron and vitamin D as well as extras like red raspberry leaf, ginger and spirulina but come in a shrunken size.

The easy-to-swallow mini pills also have probiotics and digestive enzymes, which helps you digest them three times a day.

You Should Know

These Petite Mini-Tab Multivitamins only have 50 mg of calcium—a fraction of what you need each day. Be sure to bone up on your dairy or ask your doctor if you should take an additional calcium supplement.

Budget Pick

If you’re watching your wallet, Nature Made prenatal vitamins are a great value. They provide your full quota of folic acid, iron and vitamin D as well as other essential vitamins.

The Nature Made prenatals even contain the full recommended amount of DHA (great if you don’t regularly eat fish). The bonus? You only have to take one soft gel capsule a day.

Your Show Know

These Nature Made vitamins are skimpy on calcium, with only 150 mg. If you don’t get enough calcium through your diet, you may need a supplement that has more of this vital nutrient.

Solid Choice

A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but the Honest Co. uses a coating of natural vanilla instead to make their once-a-day prenatals easier to swallow. Digestive enzymes, derived from pineapple, papaya and kiwi, help the pills better settle in a sensitive stomach too.

These prenatals are chock full of vitamin D, iron and folic acid, as well as ginger and spirulina. And they can even be taken on an empty stomach.

You Should Know

These vitamins also fall shy of the daily calcium requirement for moms-to-be with only 200 mg. But if you regularly drink milk or eat yogurt, that could be a non-issue for you.

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Highest Quality

Sure, MegaFood vitamins are pricey, but there’s a good reason why. This brand has an independent seal of approval by NSF International, a third party that verifies supplements meet high quality and safety standards.

Unlike other brands that use cheaper but harder to absorb ingredients, Baby & Me is loaded with nutrients in forms that are easy for your body to actually use. You get the perfect amount of vitamin D and more than enough folic acid by taking the recommended four pills a day.

You Should Know

Moms-to-be need 27 to 30 mg of iron a day, but Baby & Me only contains 18 mg. Also, this supplement only provides 6% of your recommended daily calcium. So, you’ll need to make sure you’re eating plenty of iron and calcium rich foods too.

Most Transparent

If you’re all about knowing where your food comes from, you’re going to love these vitamins. Ritual not only specifies the exact form of their vitamins and minerals (since there can be more than one option), but also where each nutrient is sourced.

These prenatals contain an abundance of folate (the naturally occuring form of folic acid) from Italy, DHA from South Carolina and vitamin D from the United Kingdom, as well as other vitamins and minerals. And for sensitive stomachs, the two capsules a day are designed not to dissolve until they reach an area of your digestive tract that’s less likely to trigger nausea.

You Should Know

These supplements lack calcium, and although they have 18 mg of iron, they don’t meet the daily requirement. You’ll have to be focused on getting plenty of those key nutrients through your diet instead.

Lots of DHA

If you’re looking to up your intake of DHA during your pregnancy, this prenatal is a good supplement. With 480 mg of DHA per serving, it surpasses daily intake recommendations of omega-3s for baby’s brain development.

It’s also certified to be free of environmental toxins, including heavy metals, and has earned a seal of approval by NSF International (a third party that tests supplements for quality and safety).

You Should Know

This isn’t an all-around prenatal vitamin. Though it does contain 400 I.U. of vitamin D3 in addition to the DHA, if you’re looking for iron, folic acid or other vitamins and minerals, you should take this in addition to a regular prenatal.

Pill Alternative

OK, real talk: swallowing anything, and keeping it down, can be a major challenge for some moms-to-be. But some women swear that vitamin gummies do the trick.

These Smarty Pants ones come in lemon, orange and strawberry-banana flavors and have zero artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. You’ll need to eat six a day to get the amount of folic acid and vitamin D required for pregnant women. And you’ll even get a bit of DHA too (48 mg).

You Should Know

You won’t get iron from any gummy vitamin, but this one also lacks calcium. Ask your doctor if an additional supplement is necessary to get the iron and calcium needed during pregnancy.


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Choosing What’s Right For You

When thinking about which prenatal vitamin to buy, consider what you typically eat and where your diet may fall short. If you’re a vegetarian, iron supplementation might be crucial. If you don’t eat dairy, calcium might be a must-have. Hate fish? Then look for a vitamin that contains DHA.

If you still feel unsure about which prenatal vitamin is best for you, ask your doctor for a recommendation. You’ll rest easier knowing you’re taking a supplement that helps your body keep up with the increased demands of pregnancy.

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