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Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2024, According to Doctors
Updated on
April 12, 2024

Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2024, According to Doctors

By Jen LaBracio | Medically Reviewed by Alyssa Dweck | Fact Checked by Shannon Vestal Robson
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Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2024, According to Doctors.
Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2024, According to Doctors

You already know that good nutrition is important during pregnancy, and you’re likely doing your best. 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, healthy diet but instead act like backup—making sure you don’t fall short of the essential nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. 

But what is the best prenatal vitamin? (There are a LOT of choices.) Which one is right for you? And what nutrients are essential—and which don’t matter quite as much? We spoke with two experts: Dr. Cordelia Nwankwo, a board-certified ob-gyn, and Dr. Nathan Fox, ob-gyn, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal Fetal Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, creator of the Healthful Woman podcast and Babylist Health Advisory Board member, about the importance of prenatal vitamins and how to choose which ones are right for you.

Babylist’s Top Picks for the Best Prenatal Vitamins

Best Prenatal Vitamins at a Glance

Brand Type Daily Dose Vegan Iron
NatureMade Softgel 1 No Yes
SmartyPants Gummy 6 No No
OLLY Gummy 2 No No
Ritual Capsule 2 Yes Yes
MegaFood Tablet 2 No Yes
One a Day Softgel 1 No Yes
Perelel Capsule 2 No Yes
Nordic Naturals Softgel 2 No No
Honest Co. Tablet 1 No Yes
Pink Stork Liquid 1 tbsp No Yes
New Chapter Tablet 3 No Yes
Amazon Basics Gummy 2 No No

Babylist’s Picks for the Best Prenatal Vitamins

Best Affordable Prenatal Vitamins

Nature Made prenatal vitamins are a great value and readily available at most drugstores. They were also the top choice among Babylist users polled in the Babylist Prenatal Vitamins Survey. “I found them at Costco and they do the trick. I have horrible acid reflux and don’t find these hard to take,” says Laura, a mom of one who’s currently pregnant with her second. These prenatal vitamins provide your full quota of folic acid, iron and vitamin D as well as other essential vitamins. They 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.

Keep in Mind

These Nature Made vitamins are skimpy on calcium, with only 150 mg (the calcium recommendation for pregnancy is 1,000 mg per day for ages 19-30, and 1300 mg per day for those 31 and up). If you don’t get enough calcium between that and your diet, you may need a supplement that has more of this vital nutrient.

Best Prenatal Gummy Vitamins

Real talk: keeping anything down can be a major challenge for some parents-to-be. But some swear that vitamin gummies do the trick.

Smarty Pants gummy vitamins 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). “As someone who hates swallowing pills, I tried every prenatal gummy vitamin in existence and landed on SmartyPants. They tasted the best and seemed to have better ingredients than other gummy vitamins. I also love gummy candy so it was sort of a treat!” says Katie, a mom of one.

Keep in Mind

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.

Another Popular Gummy Option

These prenatals from Olly are another bestselling gummy vitamin option and a go-to choice for lots of pregnant people. For starters, they taste great (truly). “I have a temperamental tummy and the OLLY prenatal gummies were the only ones that didn’t make me yuck,” says Daria, a mom of two. Whereas you’ll need six SmartyPants gummies to hit your daily dose, you’ll only need two Olly Essentials. Key nutrients include folic acid, DHA and Vitamin D, and they’re gentle on your stomach so you can take them at any time of day.

Keep in Mind

Like most prenatal gummy vitamins, these don’t include iron, so consider a supplement if your healthcare provider recommends one. They also don’t contain calcium and fall short of the recommended dosages of Vitamin C and choline.

Best Vegan Prenatal Vitamins

Finding a vegan-friendly prenatal vitamin can be tricky. Three key nutrients, vitamin B12, Omega-3 DHA and iron, are most commonly sourced from animals. (Think meat, fish, eggs and milk.) Ritual vitamins, however, use either bioidentical ingredients (meaning they’re made in a lab) or nutrients sourced through other vegan-friendly methods. The brand’s founder and CEO is even a vegan.

“Ritual provide the best overall value and contain quality ingredients,” says Marissa West, ACE CPT and Nutrition Specialist and CEO of West Kept Secret. Ritual prides itself on ingredient transparency, offering visibly supply chain information on where each of the 12 key nutrients in their prenatal vitamins are sourced. These prenatals contain an abundance (1,000 mcg) of folate (the naturally occurring form of folic acid) from Italy, DHA from Canada and vitamin D3 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. “I had to take them at night because of medication I take in the morning but I never felt sick taking them,” says Briana, a mom of two. “The citrusy vibe makes them doable even when nauseous,” says Stormie, a mom of one.

Keep in Mind

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. And the price indicates a monthly subscription—but you can also get these vitamins a la carte from retailers like Target and Amazon.

If you’re looking for a vegan gummy prenatal vitamin, West recommends Garden of Life. They’re unprocessed with clean gummy technology and do not include ingredients typically seen in candy or other gummies like pig gelatin, cornstarch, artificial flavors or colorings.

Best Natural Prenatal Vitamins

MegaFood prenatals use nutrients paired with real food to deliver the nutrition you need throughout your pregnancy. They’re also a good option for vegetarians since they’re made without dairy, eggs, fish or shellfish, or for anyone with certain food allergies. (They’re also gluten-free and made without major allergens like tree nuts and peanuts, soy and sesame.)

Keep in Mind

You need 27 to 30 mg of iron a day when you’re pregnant, but Baby & Me 2 only contains 18 mg. Also, this supplement doesn’t contain calcium, so you’ll need to make sure you’re eating plenty of iron- and calcium-rich foods too.

Best Prenatal Vitamin Softgels

A softgel is a middle ground between a gummy and a standard vitamin capsule, and a good option if you’re having trouble getting the latter down without gagging. The One A Day Prenatal offers just what it promises: one pill each day packed with all the nutrients you need before, during and after pregnancy, including folic acid, DHA, iron and calcium. The softgels are easy to swallow and free of artificial sweeteners, flavors, wheat and dairy.

Keep in Mind

Although easier to swallow than traditional pills, these softgels are on the larger side, so take that into consideration.

Best Prenatal Vitamin Packs

The first thing that stands out about Perelel’s prenatal vitamin packs is that they were formulated by a panel of obstetricians and maternal-fetal medicine doctors. The second is what’s inside; instead of just one vitamin, each packet contains a core prenatal plus other capsules that support the different nutrients you need at different times during your pregnancy. (Think an Omega DHA+EPA to support brain development, an additional folate capsule and a B6 + ginger capsule for nausea.) “It had everything I needed in one pack, as opposed to having to supplement with multiple brands/vitamins,” says Amanda, a mom of three.

The packs are formulated by trimester and include a first, second and third trimester pack. There’s even a Mom Multi-Support Pack for post-pregnancy.

Keep in Mind

Each packet contains a handful of different capsules, so if you’re having trouble stomaching pills and vitamins during your pregnancy, this may not be for you. Instead, check out the brand’s vitamin powder that dissolves in water or juice. Also, these prenatals contain iron but not calcium.

Best Prenatal Vitamin Supplement with DHA

If you’re looking to up your intake of DHA during your pregnancy, this prenatal is a good supplement to take in addition to your daily prenatal vitamin. 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).

Keep in Mind

This isn’t a prenatal multivitamin—it’s a DHA supplement. Though it does contain 400 I.U. of vitamin D3 in addition to the DHA, you should take this in addition to a regular prenatal.

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Best Prenatal Vitamins with Iron

Honest prenatals are a once daily non-GMO vitamin formulated from highly bioavailable (AKA easily absorbed by your body) forms of nutrients, digestive fruit enzymes and organic ingredients. These prenatals are full of vitamin D, iron and folic acid, as well as spirulina. They can even be taken on an empty stomach.

Keep in Mind

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

Best Liquid Prenatal Vitamins

Liquid prenatal vitamins may be a good choice if you’re having a tough time swallowing pills and you’re not into gummies. (Though they do have a flavor, so keep that in mind.) The Pink Stork liquid contains 100% or more of the daily recommendation for many important nutrients. It’s gluten-free, non-GMO and contains no animal products. Plus, it claims its 18 mg of iron are non-constipating.

Keep in Mind

You may need a calcium supplement, since this liquid only contains 20 mg of the nutrient. It also comes in a traditional capsule form.

Best Gentle Prenatal Vitamins

The thought of taking a prenatal vitamin when you’re struggling with morning sickness can make your stomach turn even more. This prenatal from New Chapter may be gentler on you, thanks to the addition of ginger. It’s also certified organic, vegetarian, non-GMO, gluten free and Kosher, and has a lot of the vitamins and minerals you want, including folate and iron (the iron also is fermented to also gentler on your system).

Keep in Mind

There’s no DHA in this one, and there’s only a little bit of calcium, so you’ll want to take additional supplements.

Best Store Brand Prenatal Vitamin

It’s no surprise that everyone’s favorite one-stop online shopping resource is now in the vitamins business. Amazon Basics, Amazon’s brand of everyday essentials, makes a prenatal gummy vitamin that includes nine vitamins and minerals (including folic acid), omega-3s more. They’re also extremely affordable.

Keep in Mind

These vitamins are gluten-free but they’re not vegan, as they contain fish oil and pork gelatin. And there’s no iron or calcium.

How We Chose Our Best Prenatal Vitamins

  • We spoke with Dr. Cordelia Nwankwo, a board-certified ob-gyn based in Washington, D.C., and Dr. Nathan Fox, ob-gyn, professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Maternal Fetal Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, creator of the Healthful Woman podcast and Babylist Health Advisory Board member, about the importance of prenatal vitamins and how to choose which ones are right for you.
  • We consulted Marissa West, ACE CPT and Nutrition Specialist and CEO of West Kept Secret, about prenatal vitamin options specifically for vegans.
  • We analyzed results from Babylist’s Prenatal Vitamin Survey, which polled over 700 Babylist users and asked them to share insights and feedback around their experience researching, selecting and taking prenatal vitamins.
  • We utilized insight from the Babylist editorial team, including Gear Editor Jen LaBracio, an expert in the baby space for over six years and a mom of two who has written hundreds of baby gear guides and content around pregnancy and postpartum health.
  • We spoke to parents and expecting parents about the prenatal vitamins they loved and why, and consulted hundreds of customer reviews for prenatal supplements.

Why Are Prenatal Vitamins Important?

Prenatal vitamins help provide your body with the vitamins and minerals you need during pregnancy. “Prenatal vitamins are important before and during pregnancy to help your body meet the demands of pregnancy and aid in your baby’s development,” says Dr. Nwankwo.

So what exactly do prenatal vitamins do? According to Dr. Nwanko, they can ensure you get the nutrition and extra nutrients your body needs during pregnancy. 

“Your balanced diet should be the foundation of your nutritional vitamins. Your body is able to absorb more from your diet than from supplements. However, your prenatal supplement will help fill in the gaps.”

Do You Need to Take Prenatal Vitamins When Pregnant?

Yes, you need to take prenatal vitamins while pregnant. Prenatal vitamins are specially designed to deliver the specific types and optimal levels of nutrients needed during fetal development, so a standard multivitamin won’t cut it. They also ensure you have enough nutrients so your own body doesn’t become depleted.

Folic acid, for example, is essential for a baby’s brain and spinal cord development in the earliest stages. Your body needs twice as much iron during pregnancy as it did before you were pregnant because it supports the development of the placenta and fetus. And many prenatals also have vitamin D and calcium to build strong bones and teeth during the third trimester.

When Should I Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?

You should start taking prenatal vitamins at least a month and ideally three months before conception and throughout your entire pregnancy from four weeks pregnant to whenever labor and birth starts.

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. 

“I recommend starting prenatal vitamins as soon as you start thinking of trying to conceive. Ideally three months before conception,” Dr. Nwankwo says.

Which Prenatal Vitamin Is Best?

Trying to figure out the best prenatal vitamin for you can feel overwhelming, especially considering the number of choices available. But try not to stress out—there’s no “perfect” prenatal supplement, and as long as you’re keeping a few key nutrients in mind, figuring out what’s best for you may simply come down to a bit of trial and error.

“The best prenatal is the one you’re actually going to take consistently,” says Dr. Nwankwo.

Here are a few factors to consider when making your decision:

  • Nutrients and dietary needs. It’s important to select a prenatal vitamin that contains the essential nutrients and recommended dosages to support a healthy pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare professional before you choose so you know what to look for and the amount of each ingredient to target. You’ll also want to keep any personal dietary needs in mind when you’re deciding on a prenatal. Pay attention to ingredient lists, especially if you have any allergies or health conditions or if you’re a vegan.
  • Pill type. Vitamins come in multiple forms: pills, soft-gel capsules and gummies. For some pregnant people, swallowing and keeping 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. (Just remember that gummy vitamins do not contain iron, so you may want an extra iron supplement for that.)
  • Recommended daily dose. Some prenatal supplements require a one-a-day dosage, while others have a recommended daily dose of up to four or six pills. If you’re a person who doesn’t love the idea of taking multiple pills per day, this may factor into your decision.
  • Budget. A more expensive prenatal vitamin does not always mean a better prenatal vitamin. Many affordable prenatals deliver the same essential nutrients as their more expensive counterparts.
  • Subscription option. Many newer prenatal vitamin brands now offer the convenience of a monthly subscription service, a nice perk if you’re looking for one less thing to think about (and one less errand to do). Just keep in mind that these subscription services are often more expensive than many over-the-counter prenatal vitamins.

Essential Nutrients to Look for in a Prenatal Vitamin

When shopping for prenatal vitamins, Dr. Nwanko and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend focusing on these four primary nutrients: folic acid, iron, calcium, and Vitamin D. Each of these nutrients plays an important role, especially during pregnancy.

  • Folic acid: 600 mcg Helps with neural tube development and can help prevent neural tube defects like Spina bifida.
  • Iron: 27 mg Helps to prevent anemia, which can affect the delivery of oxygen to the baby via red blood cells. (Keep in mind that most gummy prenatal vitamins don’t contain iron.)
  • Calcium: 1,000 mg Helps with bone health. Keep in mind that most prenatal vitamins don’t contain this much calcium, so if you don’t get enough from your diet, talk to your doctor about taking an additional calcium supplement.
  • Vitamin D: 600 IU Helps support healthy bone development and your immune system.

The following vitamins are also essential during pregnancy, as you may not get enough of them through diet alone:

  • 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
  • Choline: 450 mg

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 your baby’s cognitive development and the development of their nervous system. The March of Dimes recommends 200 mg of DHA a day through diet or supplementation.

When selecting a prenatal for a healthy pregnancy, keep in mind that each vitamin can differ in the types and amounts of nutrients it contains because specific vitamin ingredients aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (The FDA, the government agency that ensures the safety and efficacy of drugs, medical devices and our nation’s food supply and cosmetics.) If the vitamin you choose doesn’t contain the full recommended daily amount of a nutrient, be sure to eat food sources that are high in that vitamin or mineral.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are prescribed prenatals better than store-bought ones?

Prenatal vitamins are readily available over the counter and a prescription is generally unnecessary. “There’s not much difference between over-the-counter and prescription prenatals, and both are adequate,” assures Dr. Nwankwo.

“Sometimes prescription prenatals may have special formulations—for example, they may have a stool softener added to help with constipation, or they may have additional iron. The pills may also be smaller and easier to take. But it’s not necessary,” she says.

If you want to take a prescription prenatal, be sure to check with your insurance first to see if they’re covered; if so, you’ll likely need your doctor to give you a prescription for them.

What’s the difference between folate and folic acid?

You also notice that some prenatal vitamins contain folate while others contain folic acid. According to Dr. Fox, although most people (including most doctors) use the terms interchangeably, they are technically different—but that generally isn’t an issue for most pregnant people.

“Folate is the natural form of the vitamin (vitamin B9) and folic acid is the synthetic version. For almost everyone, it doesn’t make a difference which one they take. There are some rare reasons why one would choose folate, but again that is quite the exception,” he says.

Are gummy vitamins as good as pills?

Unlike pills or capsules, most gummy vitamins are missing one key nutrient: iron. If you do decide to take a gummy prenatal vitamin in lieu of a traditional pill, you can always add in an iron supplement if your healthcare provider recommends it—just be sure to speak with them first.

What is the best time of day to take prenatal vitamins?

It doesn’t make a difference what time of day you take your prenatal vitamin, says Dr. Fox. If you’re experiencing nausea, many pregnant people find that taking their prenatal with a meal can be helpful. Some people even take theirs in the evening with a bedtime snack.

How long should you take prenatal vitamins?

You should take your prenatal vitamin daily throughout your entire pregnancy. If you’re planning on breastfeeding, Dr. Nwankwo recommends you continue to take a prenatal for a minimum of about six months, if not throughout.

If you’re already pregnant and haven’t been taking prenatal vitamins, no need to worry; just start as soon as you can.

Can you take prenatal vitamins if you’re not pregnant?

You don’t need to take prenatal vitamins if you’re not pregnant or if you’re not trying to conceive, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, doctors do often recommend that you continue to take your prenatal vitamin post-delivery if you’re breastfeeding. Always talk with your healthcare provider if you have any questions about continuing to take your prenatal vitamin postpartum.

Do prenatal vitamins have any side effects?

According to the Mayo Clinic, constipation is a common side effect of taking a prenatal vitamin. You can help prevent constipation by drinking plenty of fluids, adding high-fiber foods to your diet and exercising. Other common side effects of prenatal supplements may include nausea and an upset stomach.

Are prenatal vitamins FDA-approved?

The FDA does not review or approve the safety of dietary supplements, including prenatal vitamins. Always speak with your healthcare provider about what kind of prenatal vitamins you should take.

Expert Sources

  • Dr. Cordelia Nwankwo, a board-certified ob-gyn based in Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. Nathan Fox, ob-gyn, creator of the Healthful Woman podcast and Babylist Health Advisory Board member.
  • Marissa West, ACE CPT and Nutrition Specialist and CEO of West Kept Secret.

Jen LaBracio

Senior Gear Editor

Jen LaBracio is Babylist’s Senior Gear Editor, a role that perfectly combines her love of all things baby gear with her love of (obsessive) research. When she’s not testing out a new high chair or pushing the latest stroller model around her neighborhood, she likes to run, spin, listen to podcasts, read and spend time at the beach. In her past life, she worked for over a decade in children’s publishing. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and their two boys, Will and Ben.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and review products, as well as the Babylist Health Advisory Board.