Chick Picks: The Best Prenatal Vitamins - Baby Chick

Best Prenatal Vitamins

Taking a good prenatal vitamin is essential for a healthy mom and baby during pregnancy. Here are our top picks for best prenatal vitamins.

Updated August 30, 2023
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If you are trying to get pregnant or are newly pregnant, one of the best things you can do for yourself and your growing baby is to start taking a quality prenatal vitamin. Ideally, getting all your nutritional needs during pregnancy from a well-balanced diet would be best. But, unfortunately, even with a relatively healthy diet, you may not be able to get all the extra nutritional requirements your body needs during pregnancy with food alone. A good prenatal vitamin can help you supplement your diet to meet those needs and help better nourish you and your baby.

During pregnancy, it is important to find a good prenatal vitamin that includes folate, calcium, iron, and vitamin D. And while it’s always recommended that pregnant mamas find and consistently take a good supplement, remember that prenatal vitamins will not help you avoid the risks from an unhealthy diet. And since most U.S. adults do not eat a diet that fulfills their nutritional needs, supplementation with quality vitamins is highly recommended, especially for pregnant women.1

What to Look For in a Prenatal Vitamin

These are the recommended guidelines for key vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians & Gynecologists:2

Calcium

Daily Recommended Dietary Amount

  • 1,300 milligrams for ages 14–18 years
  • 1,000 milligrams for ages 19–50 years

Why You and Your Baby Need It
Builds strong bones and teeth

Best Sources

  • pasteurized milk
  • cheese
  • yogurt
  • sardines
  • dark, leafy greens

Iron

Daily Recommended Dietary Amount
27 milligrams

Why You and Your Baby Need It
Helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to your baby

Best Sources

  • lean red meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • dried beans and peas
  • iron-fortified cereals
  • prune juice

Vitamin A

Daily Recommended Dietary Amount
770 micrograms

Why You and Your Baby Need It

  • Forms healthy skin and eyesight
  • Helps with bone growth

Best Sources

  • carrots
  • dark green leafy vegetables
  • sweet potatoes

Vitamin C

Daily Recommended Dietary Amount
85 milligrams

Why You and Your Baby Need It

  • Promotes healthy gums, teeth, and bones
  • Helps your body absorb iron

Best Sources

  • citrus fruit
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • strawberries

Vitamin D

Daily Recommended Dietary Amount
600 international units

Why You and Your Baby Need It

  • Builds your baby’s bones and teeth
  • Helps promote healthy eyesight and skin

Best Sources

  • sunlight
  • fortified milk
  • fatty fish such as salmon

Vitamin B6

Daily Recommended Dietary Amount
1.9 milligrams

Why You and Your Baby Need It

  • Helps form red blood cells
  • Helps your body use protein, fat, and carbohydrates

Best Sources

  • beef
  • liver
  • pork
  • ham
  • wholegrain cereals
  • bananas

Vitamin B12

Daily Recommended Dietary Amount
2.6 micrograms

Why You and Your Baby Need It

  • Maintains nervous system
  • Needed to form red blood cells

Best Sources

  • meat
  • fish
  • poultry
  • milk (vegetarians should take a supplement)

Folic Acid

Daily Recommended Dietary Amount
600 micrograms

Why You and Your Baby Need It
Helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spine

Best Sources

  • dark green leafy vegetables
  • orange juice
  • beans
  • fortified cereals
  • enriched bread and pasta
  • nuts

When choosing the right prenatal vitamin for you, be sure to look for these key nutrients and that you will receive the correct amount daily. If you notice that the vitamin you have chosen doesn’t contain the recommended daily amount of a particular nutrient, include foods (listed above) in your diet to increase your vitamin or mineral amount.

When to Start Taking a Prenatal Vitamin and for How Long

It is never too early to start taking a good prenatal vitamin. Doctors recommend that, ideally, women begin taking a prenatal vitamin a few months before conception.3 The reason for taking a prenatal vitamin early is neurological development is already occurring during the first month of pregnancy. The folate or folic acid in the vitamin can offer its full protective benefits during that time. But if it’s been a few months and you just found out you’re pregnant and haven’t been taking a prenatal vitamin, that’s okay. Just start taking one as soon as you possibly can. Once you have it, take it daily and continue until you give birth. However, if you decide to breastfeed your baby, continue taking your prenatal vitamin throughout your breastfeeding journey.

How to Take Prenatal Vitamins

Always follow the instructions on the vitamin bottle to gain the maximum benefits. Some recommend taking the vitamins with food, and others recommend taking them with water on an empty stomach. If you feel nauseous from your prenatal vitamin, we suggest taking them before bed rather than in the morning.

Talk to your doctor or midwife about which prenatal vitamin might be your best option. While most women can find a prenatal vitamin that is easy to digest, some women have some side effects. Common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and upset stomach.5 These side effects are often temporary but talk to your doctor or midwife if you experience any.

The Best Prenatal Vitamins

We know that not all vitamins are created equal, so we have gathered the best prenatal vitamins for you. Not every vitamin is ideal for every woman, especially if she suffers from morning sickness, nausea, or random aversions. After speaking with OBGYNs, midwives, and dieticians and doing our research, here are the best prenatal vitamins available on the market. Read more to determine the right one for you and discuss it with your healthcare provider before taking it.

Thorne Basic Prenatal

Best Prenatal Vitamins
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A gentle and effective multivitamin formulated to nourish mom and support baby’s development, from pre-conception through nursing. This prenatal vitamin was recommended as a good choice by all our experts. It’s made without the additives and coatings found in mainstream prenatal supplements. It’s also made with the purest possible ingredients without gluten or other major allergens (eggs, tree nuts, peanuts). Thorne’s Basic Prenatal contains no dairy, soy, yeast, fish, or shellfish.

Another reason care providers suggest this vitamin is that it contains 1,000 micrograms of folate. This amount ensures women are receiving enough folate throughout their pregnancy. Folate or folic acid helps develop the fetus’s organs and tissues and helps form the neural tube. It also helps prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain (anencephaly) and spine (spina bifida).4

We particularly like that Thorne’s facility is (National Sanitation Foundation) NSF- and cGMP-compliant (Current Good Manufacturing Practices). They rigorously test for 760 contaminants to verify each ingredient’s identity, potency, and purity listed on their product labels.

Rainbow Light Prenatal One

Best Prenatal Vitamins
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This once-daily multivitamin is Non-GMO Project Verified and delivers clinically researched ingredients in potencies that meet or exceed daily values of key nutrients for prenatal care. Folate, calcium, choline, and a gentle on the stomach, non-constipating form of iron nourish mom’s health and baby’s development.

Expecting women go from needing 18 milligrams of iron per day to 27 milligrams of iron when they become pregnant. Iron supports the increased blood volume the mother and baby require and aids in the child’s healthy growth. Rainbow Light’s prenatal vitamin contains 27 milligrams of iron per tablet, which can help the expectant mother avoid developing iron-deficiency anemia.

We particularly love that this prenatal vitamin only requires women to take a single tablet per day, unlike many other prenatals.

Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA

Best Prenatal Vitamins
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Derived from sustainable microalgae, this vegan Prenatal DHA formula helps support mothers before, during, and after pregnancy. Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA supports a healthy pregnancy and optimal brain and visual development in babies.

Some prenatal vitamins contain DHA, while others don’t. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is one of the primary essential omega-3 fatty acids important for your baby’s cognitive and visual function and overall brain development. Ask your doctor or midwife if you should take an additional omega-3 supplement like this one.

Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA uses a plant-based source of DHA, perfect for vegetarians and vegans. It is also non-GMO and hexane-free. They are also third-party tested, surpassing the strictest international standards for purity and freshness. This is a great prenatal supplement free of environmental toxins, including heavy metals, that provides 480 milligrams of DHA and 205 milligrams of EPA per serving. Just be sure to take this prenatal supplement in addition to your daily prenatal multivitamin.

New Chapter Perfect Prenatal

Best Prenatal Vitamins
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Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin is expertly formulated with whole-food fermented vitamins and minerals to support your baby’s healthy development. It includes B Vitamins for natural energy production, folate for the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord, and iron for your red blood cell production and the transportation of oxygen to your baby during pregnancy. New Chapter Perfect Prenatal also delivers probiotics and a clinical dose of organic ginger to soothe pregnancy-related nausea. They’re also made with all organic, certified non-GMO ingredients and are vegetarian, sugar-free, gluten-free, and Kosher.

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal

Best Prenatal Vitamins
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Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal is a comprehensive whole-food multi-nutrient formula specifically formulated to meet the unique needs of women during pre-conception, pregnancy, and lactation. Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal contains over 20 powdered organically grown fruits and vegetables with supporting antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrient cofactors. It contains an impressive 800 mcg of folate and has vitamin B6 and ginger, which can help ease pregnancy-related nausea. It’s a raw, vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free prenatal vitamin that gives pregnant women 100% of their daily iron needs.

MegaFood Baby & Me 2

Best Prenatal Vitamins
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MegaFood® Baby & Me 2 combines optimal levels of iron, methylated folate, B12, B6, vitamin D, and choline for a healthy mood balance for moms-to-be. Their products are made with organic, plant-based ingredients and are certified glyphosate-, GMO-, soy-, gluten-, and dairy-free. They have also been tested for over 125 pesticides and herbicides. We love that it contains probiotics, prebiotic fiber, and ginger root to aid nausea and vomiting.

It does not contain the recommended calcium, magnesium, or iron amount. If those are areas of concern for you, eat plenty of iron and calcium-rich foods. You may also want to try MegaFood® Balanced Minerals and MegaFood® Blood Builder.

Forté Prenatal+

Best Prenatal Vitamins
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This physician-formulated supplement is a high-quality prenatal supplement designed to provide the specific nutritional needs of the mother and baby. Forté Elements Prenatal+ has 24 unique hand-chosen ingredients for pregnant mothers. It includes DHA / EPA; Vitamin A, Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K1, Biotin, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Pantothenic Acid, Zinc, Magnesium, Choline, Phosphorous, Fish Oil, Boron, Vanadium, and Quatrefolic Acid, a unique carrier for folates and folic acid that enhances absorption. It offers full nutritional support from head to toe.

We like how their capsules are smaller, making them easier to swallow, and they come pre-packed, so you never miss the full nutritional support you and your baby need. However, 4 tablets and 1 soft gel are in each packet, which can be a lot for some women.

Smarty Pants Prenatal Formula

Best Prenatal Vitamins
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We usually don’t recommend gummies for a vitamin since they contain added sugar. However, we understand that severely nauseous women cannot swallow a large vitamin tablet or capsule and keep them down. We’ve looked at the gummy options and found that the Smarty Pants Prenatal Formula contains the best ingredients out of the gummies. They include sustainable, non-GMO ingredients in the easiest forms for your body to utilize. They are also free of artificial sweeteners, preservatives, synthetic colors, artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, and the top eight allergens. Their flavors are lemon, orange, and strawberry-banana. Smarty Pants Prenatal contains premium ingredients, including Omega-3 fish oil (EPA and DHA), folate as methylfolate, iodine, Vitamin D3, all eight B vitamins, choline, and more.

Unfortunately, like most gummies, this option lacks iron and calcium. Ask your doctor for a recommendation for an iron and calcium supplement. And if you have been advised to watch your sugar intake during pregnancy, this probably isn’t the best option because one serving (four gummies) contains 6 grams of added sugar.

Eu Natural GLOW

Best Prenatal Vitamins
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A potent prenatal vitamin formula, GLOW combines 25 vital nutrients like Folate, Ginger, Zinc, Iron, and AquaCelle™ Algal DHA, a clinically studied form of Omega 3 up to 6x more bioavailable than standard fish oil. Their easy-to-swallow soft capsules are 100% vegetarian and completely free of fillers, binders, and artificial ingredients. They are also free of gluten, wheat, and dairy. In addition, we love that they offer a 90-day 100% money-back guarantee, that they are made in the USA, and that every bottle you purchase buys a year’s worth of vitamins for a child in need.

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  • Author

Cheyenne is a former lawyer turned writer, editor, and work-from-home mom living in San Marcos, Texas, with her daughter, Aislin, and son, Hawkins. She and her kids moved to the… Read more

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