Women who are pregnant have an important role of fulfilling the nutritional needs of their baby and themselves at the same time.
Depending on the diet of the mother, this is not always an easy thing to do.
(For the best general women’s multivitamins, click here)
Prenatal vitamins help ensure proper nutrition for the mother and the baby throughout the duration of a pregnancy.
So how do prenatal vitamin supplements work and are they really worth it?
We’ll cover this, along with the benefits and possible side effects of taking a prenatal vitamin.
Before we get there, we’ve ranked the best prenatal vitamin supplements, according to price, product quality, and customer reviews.
So what’s the best prenatal vitamin on the market?
1- Rainbow Light Prenatal One
Rainbow Light is a leading brand founded in the multivitamin space (they have products in both the top men’s and women’s multivitamin rankings) but their prenatal vitamin might be their most impressive vitamin supplement yet.
The ingredients in the Prenatal One blend are sourced from superfood extracts that promote a baby’s development and support a mother’s energy and nutrition, making them our #1 recommended prenatal vitamin supplement.
In particular, this prenatal supplement contains 30 milligrams of non-constipating iron to support metabolism and red blood cell production, 400 IU of vitamin D2 to promote healthy bones and teeth, plus 100 milligrams of vitamin C and 4,000 IU of vitamin A to support skin, eye, and immune system health.
Prenatal One contains plant-source enzymes plus 25 million probiotics to enhance digestion without an upset stomach.
It’s also a vegan and vegetarian-approved supplement, meaning no animal products or artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, or other additives and 100% free of gluten, soy, dairy, nuts, shellfish, and yeast.
Take 1 tablet per serving – 150 tablets in the bottle.
2- MegaFood Baby & Me 2
MegaFood’s Baby & Me 2 is one of the more expensive prenatal vitamin supplements on the market, but supposedly you get premium quality.
Here’s what the people at MegaFood have to say about their prenatal vitamin product:
“MegaFood takes pride in knowing we deliver the promise of farm fresh foods to you in everything we make. It’s not easy, but we believe farm fresh whole foods are the best way to deliver authentic nourishment and not just vitamins and minerals alone. And that’s the difference between feeling good and feeling really good.
Feeling good and trusting what you are putting into your body is of even greater importance as you go through pregnancy. We have included a comprehensive list of ingredients tailored to meet the changing needs of your body and your growing baby, and you can rest assured knowing that our formula is certified gluten-free, dairy free, soy free, vegetarian safe, kosher, and Non-GMO.”
Farm fresh foods is an interesting concept, definitely not something you see offered by other leading prenatal vitamin products.
Here are the ingredients contained in Baby & Me 2: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin E, vitamin K1/K2, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, niacin, vitamin B6, biotin, pantothenic acid, iron, iodine, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, potassium, choline, silica, stearic acid, and plant cellulose.
Take 2 tablets daily – 120 tablets in the bottle.
3- NatureMade Prenatal Multi + DHA
NatureMade is another big name in the health supplement space. Their prenatal vitamin supplement contains traditional prenatal ingredients (calcium, zinc, folic acid, etc.) along with 200 mg of the essential omega-3 fatty acid, DHA.
The serving size is only one softgel per day, which is nice compared to other leading brands that require you take 2-3 capsules per day. Also one of the more affordable prenatal vitamin supplements for the quantity of servings in the bottle (90).
Here are the ingredients: gelatin, soybean oil, glycerin, water, soy lecithin, yellow beeswax, resin, ascorbyl palmitate, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin E, and calcium (as calcium carbonate).
It is important to note that this supplement contains wheat. However, there are no artificial flavors, preservatives, or yeast. All colors have been derived from natural sources – no synthetic dyes.
1 softgel per serving – 90 softgels in the bottle.
4- Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal
One of the highest priced prenatal vitamins on the market, Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal is a whole-food multi-nutrient formula, specifically formulated to meet the unique needs of women during pre-conception, pregnancy, and lactation, by providing the nourishment to support both Mom and her developing baby.
This particular supplement is RAW – meaning no high heat, synthetic binders, fillers, artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors or additives commonly used in tablets.
The ingredients in this prenatal vitamin are blended in a base of 23 fruits and vegetables together with food cofactors for exceptional nutritional value.
Non-GMO Project Verified; Also 100% gluten and dairy free.
Take 1 capsule 3 times daily – 60 servings per bottle.
5- New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins
New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins is a great supplement that provides nutritional value from organic and non-GMO plants and green vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cabbage.
The fermented formula is loaded with probiotics and whole foods that can even be taken on an empty stomach without experiencing any nausea.
The ingredients are of premium quality and sourced from all over the world- organic turmeric from India, wild-caught Salmon from the clean waters of Alaska, and Red Marine Algae from Iceland’s pristine coastline.
Take 3 tablets daily – 32 servings in the bottle.
What are prenatal vitamins and how do they work?
All pregnant women deserve the best health since they are taking care of two people at once.
Prenatal vitamin supplements are there to help mothers and their babies stay on top of their nutrition throughout the entire pregnancy duration.
It is important that women who are pregnant have the proper vitamins and minerals to keep the baby inside their womb healthy, while maintaining adequate health themselves throughout the entire pregnancy.
Folic acid, iron and calcium are three of the most important vitamins that women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant need to keep themselves and their baby healthy.
Folic acid helps prevent the possible risk of neural tube defects, or NTDs.
NTDs are one of the serious birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. The neural tube is actually part of the embryo from which the baby’s brain and spine develops. This defect will most likely occur in the early stages of development.
Women who take folic acid at the very early stages of their pregnancy or before conception are reported to reduce their baby’s risk of neural tube defects by as much as 70% (1).
The specific amount that you need may be instructed by your doctor, but it can be anywhere from 400 micrograms to 800 micrograms.
Iron, on the other hand, is highly needed during the first 6 months of pregnancy.
It is used to produce hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carry oxygen to different organs and tissues throughout the body.
Women who are pregnant need to produce extra blood for their babies as well, so there’s a good chance you could use the help of an iron supplement.
The suggested iron intake increases by 50% as soon as a women becomes pregnant. Generally, this means an increase from 18 mg / day to 27 mg / day (2).
Deficiency in iron might also result in a premature birth or a low birth weight. Although this is very easy to treat with the help of an iron supplement, it is still highly recommended that women who are pregnant are aware of the issue.
Calcium is a third crucial ingredient for pregnant women. Obviously calcium is something needed by everyone, but it actually plays a crucial role in the pregnancy process for both the mother and the baby.
- Helps develop stronger bones and teeth
- Helps healthy heart, nerve and muscle growth
- Helps develop normal heartbeat rhythm
For pregnant women:
- Lessens the possible risk of hypertension
- Helps avoid Preeclampsia
It is recommended that women who are 19 and older and pregnant consume over 1,000 mg of calcium every day. For pregnant women 18 and younger, 1,300 mg of calcium intake is recommended (3).
The best way to tell if you need a prenatal vitamin or not is to simply ask your doctor on your next visit (more than likely, your doctor will be on top of this already and now you’re here to narrow down the best prenatal vitamin on the market).
What are the benefits of prenatal vitamins?
There are more than enough benefits of taking prenatal vitamin supplements, which is why they are highly recommended for anyone who is pregnant.
Throughout a pregnancy, everything should be carefully monitored with a close eye, just to ensure safety and healthiness for both the mother and baby.
The benefits of prenatal vitamins supplements are, but not limited to:
- reducing the possible risk of birth defects
- lessen the chances of premature birth
- giving new born babies higher chances of maintaining normal weight
- help pregnant women maintain better health throughout the pregnancy
These benefits are definitely something that any pregnant women would probably wish to achieve during their pregnancy (4).
The help of prenatal vitamin supplements will boost overall being and especially the well being of the baby inside the womb.
If you are currently taking an appetite suppressant, a sleeping aid, a joint support supplement, or any other medications, make sure you check with your doctor before combining them with any new supplements.
What are the side effects of prenatal vitamins?
There aren’t many known side effects of prenatal vitamins, as long as the supplement is taken as directed.
However, these particular side effects have been reported for some users of prenatal vitamin supplements, and you should consult your doctor if symptoms persist:
- darkened or green stools
- upset stomach
It is recommended that you take a prenatal vitamin supplement with 8 oz of water and avoid taking the supplement with dairy products, as this will not make the supplement work as well.
If you take any other supplements like women’s diet pills or acne treatment medicine, it is best to first consult with your doctor first to avoid any possible problems when combining supplements.
If you take any type of anti-acids, refrain from taking them within two hours of taking your prenatal supplement (5).
All-in-all, it is a very good idea for a pregnant women to consider taking a prenatal vitamin.
Not only are you increasing your baby’s chance for healthy survival, a prenatal vitamin allows you to keep your own health in check throughout crucial development processes.
Don’t stress too much about which prenatal vitamin brand to choose. We’ve done the research to narrow down the best five prenatal vitamin products on the market, ranked at the top of the page.