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Prenatal Vitamins for a Healthy Pregnancy, According to a Dietitian

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

A quick look at the best prenatal vitamins

  • Best subscription-based prenatal vitamin: Ritual Essential Prenatal Multivitamin
  • Editor’s pick of the best prenatal vitamin: FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin
  • Best trimester-specific prenatal vitamin: Perelel Prenatal Packs
  • Best prenatal vitamins for vegetarians: MegaFood Baby & Me 2 Prenatal Multi
  • Best prenatal supplement powder: Needed Prenatal Multi
  • Best prenatal vitamins with DHA: Nature Made Prenatal Multi + DHA, Zahler Prenatal + DHA
  • Best gummy prenatal vitamin: SmartyPants Prenatal Formula
  • Best chewable prenatal vitamin: Seeking Health Prenatal Essentials Chewable
  • Best prenatal vitamins for morning sickness: New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin
  • Best vegan prenatal vitamins for morning sickness: Best Nest Wellness Mama Bird Prenatal Multi+

Why should you take a prenatal vitamin?

During pregnancy, your needs for vitamins, minerals, and trace elements increase significantly in order to support your health and the health and growth of the developing fetus (1).

For example, folate needs increase by 50% and iron needs increase by 150% (2, 3).

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These and many other nutrients are essential for fetal and placental growth and the general health of the pregnant person, which is why they’re needed in larger amounts during pregnancy.

Taking a prenatal vitamin that contains all the nutrients needed to support a healthy pregnancy can help reduce the risk of deficiencies and ensure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need to keep yourself and your baby healthy.

In addition to folate, examples of other nutrients to look for in a prenatal vitamin include iodine, vitamin D, choline, B vitamins, and calcium. It can also be a good idea to choose a product with omega-3 fatty acids (1).

How to choose the best prenatal vitamin for you

If you have pregnancy complications or other health concerns, your doctor might recommend a prescription prenatal supplement. Otherwise, you can find over-the- counter supplements at your local pharmacy or online.

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While many products are available, you’ll want to choose a prenatal supplement that includes all the vitamins and minerals needed to support a healthy pregnancy.

Most prenatals contain all or most of the micronutrients needed during pregnancy.

However, many prenatals fall short in a few areas, which is why it’s important to do your research before purchasing a prenatal supplement.

In particular, prenatal supplements are often lacking in the following nutrients, even though it is important to get enough of these nutrients during pregnancy:

  • Choline. Choline is essential for fetal and placental growth and development. Many pregnant people don’t get enough, so it’s important to choose a prenatal that includes choline and to include choline-rich foods, such as egg yolks, in your diet (4, 5).
  • DHA. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a type of fatty acid that’s in high demand during pregnancy because it plays a vital role in fetal brain development. If your prenatal doesn’t have DHA in it, ask a healthcare professional for DHA supplement recommendations (6).
  • EPA. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is another fatty acid that’s important during pregnancy. Therefore, healthcare professionals generally recommend choosing a prenatal that contains DHA and EPA or supplementing with DHA and EPA separately (6).
  • Vitamin D. The current vitamin D recommendation during pregnancy is 600 IU. However, research suggests pregnant people need about 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day to maintain optimal levels. Vitamin D needs are even higher when breastfeeding (7, 8, 9, 10).
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Since each pregnancy is unique, your doctor or a registered dietitian may suggest a specific prenatal supplement based on your health needs.

How we chose the best prenatal vitamins

Whether you’re looking for something that will stay put when morning sickness hits or you just want something that tastes good, we rounded up 11 great options to consider.

We chose the supplements on our list based on the following criteria:

  • Vetting. All the products included have been vetted to ensure that they meet ishonest’s medical and business standards.
  • Nutritional content. We included products that are specifically formulated to meet the nutritional demands of pregnancy.
  • Ingredients. We looked for supplements that are made from high quality ingredients and free of artificial additives and preservatives.
  • Reviews. The products listed below have mostly positive online reviews.

ishonest’s picks of the best prenatal vitamins

Ritual Essential Prenatal Multivitamin
  • Price: $$
  • Type: capsules
  • Dosage: 2 capsules per day
  • Included nutrients: folate, biotin, choline, iron, iodine, magnesium, boron, omega-3 DHA, and vitamins B12, D3, E, and K

Created by women for women, Ritual Essential Prenatal Multivitamin provides 12 key nutrients to help support you and your baby before, during, and after pregnancy.

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Specifically, the prenatal offers more than 100% of your daily needs for folate, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. It also includes DHA from algae, so it’s a suitable option for those following a vegan diet.

As a bonus, the lemon-scented capsules are designed to be easier on your stomach than some other supplements, so you can take them with or without food.

Just keep in mind that one serving provides only 10% of the recommended amount of choline, so it’s still important to include sources of choline, such as eggs, in your diet.

Additionally, while it does contain DHA omega-3, it lacks EPA, so it’s a good idea to take an additional EPA supplement.

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Ritual vitamins are third-party tested for purity and accuracy.

FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin

FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin was designed by dietitian and fertility expert Ayla Barmmer.

Perelel Prenatal Packs

Perelel is a subscription service that delivers prenatal supplements tailored to the trimester of pregnancy you’re currently in.

For example, the First Trimester Prenatal Support Pack contains extra folate, as well as added B6 and ginger to combat nausea.

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The company was founded by an OB-GYN, and each product is free of artificial additives and third-party tested for accuracy and purity.

MegaFood Baby & Me 2 Prenatal Dietary Supplement

Formulated with organic, plant-based ingredients, this prenatal vitamin is designed to be easily digestible and can be taken on an empty stomach.

It also contains many key nutrients for a healthy pregnancy, including iron, choline, folate, and vitamins B6, B12, and D3.

The supplement is also certified gluten-free and doesn’t contain soy or dairy products. However, while it is vegetarian-friendly, it isn’t suitable for vegans.

Needed Prenatal Multi
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Needed Prenatal Multi is an excellent prenatal multinutrient supplement that provides 4,000 IU of vitamin D and covers 100% of your choline needs.

The powder can be added to smoothies or lattes, so it’s a smart choice for people who can’t swallow pills or who get nauseated when taking multiple supplements per day. But it comes in a capsule form as well.

To use the powder, simply mix one scoop into your food or beverage of choice.

While the powder doesn’t include omega-3s, Needed also offers an omega-3 powder that’s designed specifically for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Nature Made Prenatal Multi + DHA
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This liquid softgel multivitamin combines DHA with folate, iron, and other essential nutrients to help you meet the nutritional demands of pregnancy.

Nature Made Prenatal Multi + DHA is third-party tested by U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) and has more than 33,000 mostly 5-star reviews online.

Plus, it’s one of the most affordable and easiest-to-find options on our list.

Zahler Prenatal + 300 mg DHA

Zahler’s new and improved Prenatal + DHA contains nutrients essential for a healthy pregnancy, including folate, vitamin D, vitamin A, and a small amount of choline.

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It also provides 300 mg of DHA from algal oil, so you don’t have to worry about fishy-tasting burps.

The supplement is also dairy-free, gluten-free, and kosher, although it isn’t vegan-friendly.

Zahler claims that each product undergoes rigorous testing for toxic metals and contaminants in its Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)-certified facility. However, the supplements aren’t third-party tested.

SmartyPants Prenatal Formula

SmartyPants is a popular and easy-to-find supplement brand that offers a great option if you prefer gummy vitamins.

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Specifically, the prenatal supplement features the omega-3s EPA and DHA, along with other important nutrients such as folate and B12.

Like most other gummies, this one doesn’t contain iron, which some people may prefer. Just be sure to ask your doctor for a recommendation for an iron supplement if needed.

Keep in mind that a serving of 4 gummies contains 6 grams, or 1 1/2 teaspoons, of added sugar. Therefore, the supplement might not be the best choice for people trying to manage their blood sugar levels, such as those with gestational diabetes.

Seeking Health Prenatal Essentials Chewable

Seeking Health Prenatal Essentials Chewables provide nutrients to support pregnancy in a chewable form. They’re a great option if you have trouble swallowing pills.

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They also contain zero added sugars and are free of gluten, artificial colors and flavors, and common allergens such as peanuts and soy.

New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin

New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin contains 100% of your daily iron needs but is designed to be gentle on your stomach.

The supplement also contains ginger, which may help ease queasiness.

This product is made from all non-GMO ingredients and is both kosher and vegetarian-friendly.

Best Nest Wellness Mama Bird Prenatal Multi+
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Featuring probiotics, organic ginger root, organic chamomile, and an enzyme blend, this vegan prenatal multivitamin is designed to be easy on your stomach.

In fact, multiple reviewers mention that it’s the only prenatal they could stomach during bouts of morning sickness.

Best Nest Wellness Mama Bird Prenatal Multi+ includes methylated forms of certain vitamins, including folate and B12, for better absorption. It’s also vegan-friendly and free of artificial colors and flavors, GMO ingredients, and major allergens, including gluten (11, 12).

One thing to note is it lacks omega-3 DHA. However, the company offers a bundle package that includes the prenatal multivitamin along with prenatal DHA and probiotic supplements.

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While Mama Bird Prenatal Multi+ isn’t third-party tested, the company assures customers that all of its products are rigorously tested multiple times to ensure safety, quality, and purity.

Product comparison

Having trouble deciding which prenatal is right for you? Here’s a quick look at how our top picks compare:

*First Trimester pack includes an additional folate supplement, which offers 278% of the DV for pregnant and breastfeeding people.

Frequently asked questions

Why are prenatal vitamins important?

During pregnancy, the need for micronutrients increases significantly. Health experts recommend taking a prenatal supplement before, during, and after pregnancy in order to meet your nutrient needs.

When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?
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The best time to begin taking prenatal vitamins is before you conceive. Supplementing with folate — which is found in prenatal vitamins — before conception significantly reduces the chances of neural tube irregularities such as spina bifida (1).

A baby’s neural tube, which will develop into both the brain and the spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy. That could happen before you even realize you’re pregnant.

For this reason, experts recommend taking a prenatal supplement containing folate for at least 3 months before becoming pregnant (1).

If you aren’t already taking a daily prenatal vitamin, start taking one as soon as you find out you’re expecting. You’ll continue taking your prenatal vitamin every day during your pregnancy.

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Experts also recommend continuing to take a prenatal supplement after you give birth.

This is because your body needs extra nutrients to support healing after delivery and requires more nutrients during breastfeeding. In fact, needs for many nutrients are even higher during breastfeeding than during pregnancy.

Do prenatal vitamins have any side effects?

Some people may feel nauseated after taking prenatal vitamins. If you’re having difficulty tolerating your prenatal, your doctor may recommend a different form of prenatal nutrients, such as a powder or chewable supplement.

Constipation can also be an issue, especially if you’re taking a prenatal vitamin with high amounts of iron.

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Be sure to drink lots of water and increase fiber in your diet. You’ll also want to get regular exercise. Ask your doctor for advice if constipation becomes an issue.

Is it OK to take prenatal vitamins if you are not pregnant?

Yes, it’s OK to take prenatal supplements if you’re not pregnant. In fact, experts recommend taking prenatal supplements for at least 3 months before becoming pregnant.

They also recommend continuing to take a prenatal supplement after you’ve given birth, though there are several products on the market specifically designed for the postnatal period.

The bottom line

Taking a prenatal supplement is recommended for all pregnant people. A well- rounded prenatal supplement can help you meet your nutrient needs before, during, and after pregnancy.

The prenatal products listed above are trusted by experts and can help ensure you’re getting the recommended amount of nutrients to keep you and your little one healthy.

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