If you are looking to start taking prenatal vitamins, you will probably agree with this statement:
With all of the choices out there, it’s hard to figure out which prenatal vitamin offers the highest quality at a great price.
Do you even need a prenatal vitamin? What ingredients should the best prenatal vitamins have? Are there good liquid or gummy prenatal vitamins out there?
The whole idea for this prenatal vitamin review guide started from researching the top quality prenatal vitamins for a friend. I was surprised to see how many different vitamin options were out there, offering different ingredients at a wide range of doses and price points. After spending dozens of hours researching and evaluating the best prenatal vitamins out there, I put together this list of the best prenatal vitamins and have to say thanks to the medical and nutrition colleagues who chipped in their thoughts as well.
Best Prenatal Vitamins – 2018
In our opinion, these prenatal vitamins met our standards to make it onto our list of the best prenatal vitamins available without a prescription.
|Best Nest Prenatals|
|Pill||1x / day||No|
|Perfect Prenatals||Pill||3x / day||No|
|Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal|
|Liquid||1x / day||No|
|Garden of Life|
|Pill||3x / day||No|
|Zahler Prenatal DHA||Pill||2x / day||Yes|
|Once Daily Prenatal|
|Pill||1x / day||No|
|MegaFood Baby||Pill||2x / day||No|
|Smarty Pants Gummy|
|Pill||6x / day||No|
1. Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins – Editor’s Choice
Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins top our list as the best prenatal vitamins. These intelligent, well-designed prenatal vitamins offer a wide range of nutritional and convenience-oriented benefits for anyone looking for a top-tier prenatal vitamin.
Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins offer a variety of features that one would expect in a top prenatal vitamin. They are 100% organic and are made from whole foods to provide cleaner nutrition during an important time like pregnancy. They were designed to be free of gluten, soy, sugar and dairy and do not contain GMO products.
The company manufactures the Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins in the USA in an NSF-certified facility. These manufacturing processes help deliver higher quality and more consistent prenatal vitamins. The customer service is all top tier and, on a handful of occasions, the company has stood by its prenatal vitamins with a money-back guarantee when they were not the right fit for a customer.
Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins feature top quality ingredients. The prenatal vitamins contain methylfolate, a more expensive form of folic acid, and methylcobalamin, a more metabolized form of B12. Some expecting mothers have difficulty processing vitamins in their bodies as a result of genetic conditions (see below) and require these advanced ingredients. Additionally, the company states that it sources high-quality Vitamin D for the Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins from lanolin from unharmed sheep.
One of the best features of Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins is that they only need to be taken once a day. While many people diminish tzhe importance of this, we think it is highly important to make it as simple as a possible for a person to be compliant with her prenatal vitamins. There is enough going on as is in life and the last thing one needs when trying to get quality nutrition is complexity around taking a good prenatal vitamin.
On top of that, Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins are fairly easy to swallow. The pills are large but not excessively big and there is minimal smell – a problem frequently encountered with whole food prenatal vitamins. Additionally, prenatal vitamins frequently cause stomach irritation or nausea and the Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins also include probiotics to help with digestion. We do recommend taking Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins with food for anyone with a sensitive stomach to minimize any possible stomach upset.
While we feel that Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins are the best prenatal vitamins at this time, they are not perfect. The main issue is that the Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins do contain red raspberry leaf extract. This is a controversial topic for many as there have been some small studies in rats that showed both benefits and risks. Clearly, some people feel strongly enough about its benefits that they include it in their prenatal vitamins. For discussions regarding the use of red raspberry leaf during pregnancy, we recommend speaking with your pregnancy specialist.
Like most top-quality prenatal vitamins, Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins do not contain DHA. For any expecting mother that wants an all-in-one prenatal vitamin with DHA, this is not the choice for you. Additionally, some people might experience constipation but this is to be expected with most prenatal vitamins that contain iron.
Best Nest Prenatal Vitamins have been intelligently designed to provide wholesome nutrition through a prenatal vitamin. They are a great choice for anyone who wants a top-quality vitamin to supplement their diet in a simple, once-a-day format.
- 100% organic
- Probiotic ingredients aid digestion
- May cause constipation.
- Red raspberry leaf ingredient may be undesirable to some.
New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins Fermented With Probiotics are another excellent choice for anyone looking for a solid prenatal vitamin. These organic, vegetarian prenatal vitamins were also thoughtfully designed to bring wholesome nutrition to anyone looking to supplement their diet – whether they are expecting or just for general health. In fact, many non-pregnant long-term users for these prenatal vitamins swear by it. Formulated to meet requirements, New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins contains verified non-GMO ingredients and is also free of dyes and additives like titanium dioxide.
New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins passes the sniff test in that they smell like wholesome herbs and ingredients.
These prenatal vitamins go down easy and do not leave a bad aftertaste. They also settle into most people’s digestive systems fairly easily and this is likely because of their high-quality ingredients and because they contain probiotics. Most people do not report nausea when taking these prenatal vitamins. Also, bloating and gas are infrequent as these prenatal vitamins move through the body although some people did experience reflux.
Most people report much higher levels of energy with the Perfect Prenatal Vitamins. These good prenatal vitamins come up high doses of B vitamins which are helpful for increasing energy in anyone who is deficient. Most people enjoy the secondary effects of fuller, thicker hair and stronger, healthier nails that come with the dose of Vitamin B6 (biotin) in this prenatal vitamin.
In spite of their benefits, New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins do have some downsides. They contain higher doses of B vitamins than some other prenatal vitamins and, people who are sensitive to to B vitamins, might notice some restlessness or jitters as a result. For anyone who has not taken high doses of B vitamins before, your urine might change color and even smell a bit funny as a result of taking these prenatal vitamins. Additionally, there were some reports of constipation and it could be due to the form of iron used.
The New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins pills themselves are on the larger size. Additionally, 3 pills per day are recommended which makes scheduling intake of these vitamins a bit of a chore. They are slightly more expensive than some other brands but New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins are in the ballpark price of other prenatal vitamins of similar quality. Like most prenatal vitamins, New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins do not contain DHA and additional supplementation is required for anyone who wants DHA.
New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Vitamins Fermented With Probiotics are another solid choice for a prenatal vitamin, especially if one does not want red raspberry leaf and if one does not mind taking more than one pill a day.
- Easy to swallow
- Many long-term users swear by it
- Requires 3 pills per day.
- May increase constipation.
3. Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal – Best Liquid Prenatal Vitamin
Taking prenatal vitamins can be a real chore, particularly because some of them require multiple doses per day. And, for many people, swallowing pills is not only uncomfortable but can be downright impossible. Fortunately, the makers of Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal Vitamin have introduced a quality liquid prenatal vitamin to help mothers facing the daunting task of getting their daily nutrition.
Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal vitamins are a great liquid prenatal vitamin choice for anyone and particularly people who, for whatever reason, cannot take prenatal vitamins in a pill form. A GMO-free product, Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal vitamins offer a liquid boost for pregnant mothers who want a change of pace. In addition to offering a high-quality prenatal, we are pleased that this company has historically offered a money-back guarantee on their product.
There are a few reasons that someone might choose a liquid prenatal vitamin over the traditional pill version. First, liquid prenatal vitamins are more readily absorbed in some people and especially ones who have trouble breaking down pills in their digestive system. The company itself claims that liquid vitamins are absorbed up to 8 times as well as the pill form but we cannot vouch for the accuracy of that statement. Additionally, some people just struggle to swallow pills – often because of the stimulation on the gag reflex – and a liquid prenatal vitamin is a much better choice in those circumstances. Finally, some people find that liquid prenatal vitamins reduce the incidence of morning sickness but that is something one has to determine on a case-by-case basis.
Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal vitamins come packaged with a prebiotic fiber source called NutraFlora. This prebiotic helps stimulate the “good” bacteria and flora in the intestines. This helps to keep the gut healthy and may also prevent bad bacteria from setting up shop.
Regardless, Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal vitamins are a good source of folate and B vitamins. They state that their iron is largely non-constipating. Other important ingredients in Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal vitamins are things like Zinc, Vitamin D, acai, organic guava and lemon. This cocktail of nutrients is reported to help people stabilize energy levels and mood swings and improve overall health.
A liquid prenatal vitamin always has downsides and Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal vitamins are no exception. The taste is something like a more medicinal version of Flinstone’s vitamins crossed with cough syrup. While some people do not mind that taste (and the associated smell that goes with it), other people find it quite disgusting. It’s really a personal preference but it is hard to make an iron-filled liquid prenatal vitamin taste non-metallic. Many people can get over their aversion to the taste by mixing it with something like a fruit juice or some other beverage that you like but doing that is not for everyone. Additionally, even if you do that, you might still experience the aftertaste.
Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal vitamins also contain preservatives like xantham gum and potassium benzoate. While having the most natural ingredients possible is something everyone wants, preservatives are likely the reality for anyone who wants a pre-made prenatal vitamin. It is also important to know that Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal vitamins have historically come in plastic bottles in case you have strong preference for liquids stored in glass bottles. Like many of the other best prenatal vitamins, Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal lack DHA and additional supplementation will be needed for anyone who wants it.
Pink Stork Liquid Prenatal vitamins is a great choice for someone who wants a liquid prenatal vitamin with mostly quality ingredients.
- Liquid form is easiest to swallow
- Contains prebiotic fiber
- Strong taste and smell.
- Does contain perservatives.
4. Garden of Life Vegetarian Prenatal – Best Vegetarian
Garden Of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins are a solid choice for anyone who wants a vegetarian prenatal vitamin. In fact, Garden Of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins are one of the only food-based, organic, non-GMO prenatal vitamins out there. Made from over 20 fruits and vegetables, the base for these prenatal vitamins use colder processing temperatures to help preserve the nutrients during the manufacturing process. Garden Of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins are vegetarian and gluten-free and do not contain binders or fillers. These prenatal vitamins are also dairy free.
Garden Of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins use folate instead of folic acid in their ingredients. As expected, because they are vegetarian, they do not contain DHA from fish sources.
Because Garden Of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins are sourced from processed whole ingredients, some people experience bloating and gas uncommonly. Garden Of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins also contain buckwheat, mill and soy for anyone who is sensitive to these ingredients. They do come in a glass bottle which is breakable in case you plan to use them on the go.
Unfortunately, the recommended dosing for Garden Of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins is three times per day. This can make taking these prenatal vitamins hard to remember and lead to missed prenatal vitamin doses. Additionally, they so smell fairly bad – something that can be improved on with a little juice. Some might also find the flavor of Garden Of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins a little strange as well.
Garden Of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins are made from 20 fruits and vegetables and are a good option for vegetarians.
- Organic / non-GMO
- Can cause bloating.
- Requires 3 pills per day.
5. Zahler Prenatal DHA – Best Prenatal Vitamin with DHA
Zahler Prenatal DHA is a well-designed prenatal vitamin and our top-rated prenatal vitamin with DHA. In particular, Zahler Prenatal DHA vitamins are unique because it is hard to find a quality prenatal and DHA all combined into one package. Made in the USA, Zahler Prenatal DHA vitamins are bottled in a modern, NSF-certified facility. The company also states that it uses Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in making its prenatal vitamins and they are kosher certified. Because these prenatal vitamins contain DHA from fish gelatin sources, they also state that they have third parties audit their prenatal vitamins to make sure that mercury and other fish-based toxins are not present at any concerning level. All in all, Zahler Prenatal DHA prenatal vitamins contain 300mg of DHA.
One great feature of the Zahler Prenatal DNA prenatal vitamins is their overall packaging. The prenatal vitamins come individually wrapped in blister packs. For anyone on the go, carrying around blister packs is much easier than lugging a bottle (especially breakable ones) around. These prenatal vitamins come as soft gel caps that help with absorption. Overall, they are easy to swallow and do not lead to a bad aftertaste. Very few people experience nausea or constipation after taking these prenatal vitamins.
Great for short or long-term use, Zahler Prenatal DHA prenatal vitamins contain quality ingredients such as beeswax and coconut oil. Additionally, they contain 1000mcg of folate (not folic acid) in a quatrofolate form which is better for people who have the MTHFR genetic mutation. These prenatal vitamins have been reported to strengthen nails, improve hair health and boost energy in addition to providing a quality nutrient source.
Because they are made using fish sources, these prenatal vitamins are not recommended for vegetarians or vegans. Unfortunately, this reality will largely be the case for anyone interested in supplementing their prenatal vitamins with any quality form of DHA. If you are sensitive to the smell of fish, you may detect it when using Zahler Prenatal DHA prenatal vitamins but it is not overpowering. One other downside of these vitamins is that some people experienced mild reflux when taking them so it is recommended ingesting them with food.
Zahler Prenatal DHA prenatal vitamins are a great choice for anyone who is not vegetarian and wants a wholesome prenatal vitamin that also contains DHA.
- Contains DHA
- Convenient blister packaging
- Not suitable for vegetarians / vegans.
- Fish ingredients lead to a mild fishy odor.
6. Once Daily Prenatal Multivitamin – Best Value Prenatal
Once Daily Prenatal Multivitamin provides a high-quality prenatal vitamin in a once daily format. Made in the USA, Once Daily Prenatal Multivitamin states that it is GMO-free and soy free. They use quality raw materials in making their prenatal vitamins and independently test their batches to ensure quality. At only one pill per day, these prenatal vitamins pack a punch and are a good value.
Once Daily Prenatal Multivitamin are easy on the stomach and, as an added bonus, include ginger to help with any associated nausea. They also have 10 strains of probiotics with a guaranteed 5 billion CFUs which makes it easier on your digestive system. Other helpful ingredients in their proprietary blend include goji berries, beet root, spinach and kale. Additionally, Once Daily Prenatal Multivitamins include choline which is not always found in a prenatal vitamin. In addition to folic acid, the ingredients include L-methylfolate which provides more bioavailable folate for anyone who has trouble processing it in their body. Reports of constipation with Once Daily Prenatal Multivitamin are fairly low.
The downside of packing the nutrition into a one pill punch is that Once Daily Prenatal Multivitamins pills are large. For anyone who has trouble swallowing pills, this could be a problem. They also have a slight odor (described like the smell of food that you feed to fish) and, generally speaking, do not taste very good.
Once Daily Prenatal Multivitamin are a solid once-a-day prenatal vitamin option.
- Only one pill per day
- Good value
- Pills are large.
- Smell may be too much for sensitive noses.
7. MegaFood Baby and Me – Best Vegetarian
MegaFood Baby and Me Prenatal Vitamin makes its name on offering a prenatal vitamin made from real whole foods. The ingredients for their prenatal vitamins are said to come from family-owned farms to ensure quality raw materials. Examples of ingredients that they source include organic oranges, blueberries and cranberries. They then take these ingredients and process them through milling in order to attempt to preserve the wholesome goodness. The final step in manufacturing the ingredients for their prenatal vitamins is to dehydrate them using their unique Slo-food process.
The ultimate goal of all of this is for MegaFood Baby and Me Prenatal Vitamins to deliver optimal nutrition. These prenatal vitamins are a good source of iron. They may also be easier on the stomach for anyone sensitive to that.
Whole food vitamins have their drawbacks and MegaFood Baby and Me Prenatal Vitamin are no exception. They smell quite strange but we expect that to be the case with any prenatal vitamin of this nature. The pills are large and the company behind MegaFood Baby and Me Prenatal Vitamin recommends that one takes two of these large pills twice a day (4 pills total). Some felt that these prenatal vitamins were so large that they will cause gagging in anyone sensitive to swallowing pills. MegaFood Baby and Me Prenatal Vitamins also taste strange (salty as one described it) and many people did not like the aftertaste.
Occasionally, people experienced nausea and constipation while taking this prenatal vitamin. They also come in a glass bottle which is breakable if you are on the go. MegaFood Baby and Me Prenatal Vitamin also lack DHA.
- Made from dehydrated whole foods
- Easy on the stomach
- Serving size is multiple, large pills.
- Strange taste and aftertaste.
8. Smarty Pants Prenatal Complete Gummy Vitamins – Best Gummy Prenatal Vitamins
Who doesn’t like a name like Smarty Pants when thinking about prenatal vitamin nutrition for a growing baby? Smarty Pants Prenatal Complete Gummy Vitamins are some of the best gummy vitamins on the market. Gummy vitamins are popular with people who cannot fathom the idea of having to take daily prenatal vitamins without enjoying the texture and the taste.
A nice tasting prenatal vitamin, Smarty Pants Prenatal Complete Gummy Vitamins are chock full of folate, iodine and vitamin D3 – all nutrients that frequently recommended in prenatal vitamins. Unlike many of the other top prenatal vitamins, these gummy prenatal vitamins include DHA and EPA from wild fish. Thus, Smarty Pants Prenatal Complete Gummy Vitamins are not suitable for vegetarian or vegans. Made from non-GMO ingredients sourced from around the world, the company states that their prenatal gummy vitamins have been tested by an independent lab and are free of peanuts, eggs, milk, soy and wheat.
Another positive of these gummy prenatal vitamins is that they contain methylfolate and methylcobalamin – active forms of B vitamins that are easier to metabolize. Methylfolate is particularly important in people who have MTHFR mutations as it does not need to be converted into its active form using enzymes missing in people with MTHFR.
The downside of a delicious gummy prenatal vitamin is that they are often rolled in sugar to prevent the gummy vitamins from sticking to one another. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case with Smarty Pants Prenatal Complete Gummy Vitamins. Also, they do not contain iron which will be an issue for people who are looking for a prenatal vitamin with iron. People with thyroid conditions should be careful with these gummy prenatal vitamins given that they contain iodine. And, while they taste good, the serving size for Smarty Pants Prenatal Complete Gummy Vitamins is six per day.
- Gummy vitamin
- Tastes great
- Vitamins are rolled in sugar.
- Should not be taken by people with thyroid health concerns.
9. Rainbow Light Prenatal One – Vegan / Vegetarian Prenatals
Rainbow Light Prenatal One prenatal vitamins are may by the Rainbow Light company in California. Rainbow Light has been around since the early 1980s and is involved with various charity projects around maternal health. Rainbow Light Prenatal One prenatal vitamins are vegan and free of gluten and artificial preservatives, colors and flavors. Containing vitamins A, C and D2 as well as iron, Rainbow Light Prenatal One prenatal vitamins only require one dose per day. Additional ingredients found in Rainbow Light Prenatal One prenatal vitamins include spirulina, red raspberry and ginger.
Rainbow Light Prenatal One prenatal vitamins also contain 25 million CFU probiotics. Probiotics are an unusual component of prenatal vitamins and makes this something to consider for people who have digestive issues. In addition to ginger extract, the probiotics make Rainbow Light Prenatal One prenatal vitamins a bit easier to process by the gastrointestinal system in most people.
Rainbow Light Prenatal One prenatal vitamins do have an unusual taste which might affect people with sensitive palates. Also, these prenatal vitamins cannot be ground easily for people who do not want to take it as a pill.
Unfortunately, Rainbow Light Prenatal One prenatal vitamins do not contain DHA – something that is true for most vegan prenatal vitamins.
- Made by company with established history
- Preservative-free with probiotics
- Unusual tasting pills that don’t grind well.
- Atypical ingredients like red raspberry may turn off some people.
The History of Prenatal Vitamins
The development and widespread use of prenatal vitamins came about as modern medicine has developed a better understanding of the pregnant mother’s body. While it is commonly understood today, it was not always appreciated that a mother with a baby growing inside has increased nutritional needs in the form of vitamins and minerals.
Why is that the case? When a baby is growing within a mother, both the baby and the mother are producing and turning over cells rapidly. For the fetus, rapid cell division is necessary as organs, skin and other tissues form to create the building blocks of the baby’s body. One consequence of rapid cell multiplication is that the growing fetus has high vitamin needs and they are taken out of the mother. With increased cellular division, it is almost as if the mother is feeding two people at once – the fetus and the mother – and the prenatal nutritional intake needs to reflect this.
One reason the mother has high metabolic and nutritional needs is because the fetus takes a lot of energy to multiply and grown. Another reason is that the mother herself has new parts of her body growing as she prepares for labor, delivery and breastfeeding. For example, the placenta in her uterus continues to grow and adapt as it relays vitamins and nutrients to the fetus. The skin around the abdomen stretches and grows as the fetus gets larger. The mother’s breasts start producing tissue to produce milk to feed the baby. All of these changes require a much higher metabolic input when compared to a non-pregnancy state.
In realizing the metabolic impact of these various changes, the scientific community began to introduce the concept of prenatal vitamin supplementation to help address many of these needs. Because vitamins are largely safe and extra vitamin in the body is usually excreted easily, the consensus thought was that prenatal vitamins offered much more benefit than potential harm, particularly when compared to the downsides of malnutrition for the fetus, the mother, or both of them.
Prenatal Vitamins – Features to Consider
With so many different types of prenatal vitamins out there, it is important to have a framework to help decide which are the best prenatal vitamins to get. From our standpoint, there are a number of attributes that we think are helpful in evaluating any specific prenatal vitamin:
– Are the ingredients in the prenatal vitamin organic? GMO-free?
– Is it important to you that the prenatal vitamin is free of soy, dairy and/or gluten?
– How many times a day do you need to take the prenatal vitamin?
– If it is a pill form, is it one or multiple pills?
– What does the prenatal vitamin taste like?
– If it contains DHA, is it fishy?
– How sensitive are you to taste as far as being able to swallow something that tastes bad?
– Is the prenatal vitamin a liquid or a pill?
– If pills, are the pills large? Do you have trouble swallowing pills?
– If liquid, how do the ingredients compare with prenatal vitamins in a pill form?
Prenatal Vitamins – Important Ingredients
There are a number of ingredients that are important in a prenatal vitamin, particularly when one is taking them during pregnancy. Here is a simple overview of important components (please consult with your medical doctor if you have additional questions or concerns):
Folate plays a number of roles during pregnancy. It has been shown to reduce the risk of neural defects like spina bifida and anencephaly in the fetus. It may also reduce the risk of cleft lip / palate and heart defects. In the mother, folate might reduce the risk of preeclampsia, a condition of high blood pressure and organ damage that puts the fetus at risk, during the pregnancy.
People who are MTHFR positive cannot methylate folic acid into folate easily. Therefore, they need special forms of folate, especially given the increased needs during pregnancy.
Adequate iron intake is essential during pregnancy. Iron is a mineral that is used to make building blocks of components that transport oxygen in the body (red blood cells), build muscle and tissue (myoglobin and collagen) and maintain immunity.
During pregnancy, the amount of blood circulating in the body goes up and more iron is needed to increase the cells that compose the blood supply. Some women suffer from iron-deficiency anemia when they do not get enough iron as a result of the increased needs during pregnancy which makes iron supplementation through foods or the best prenatal vitamins quite important.
Iron in one’s diet is not all roses. The most common symptom of excessive iron in the diet is constipation which typically can be alleviated by eating more fiber or through some prescription medications.
Essential fatty acids are special types of fats that must be consumed through one’s diet and/or prenatal vitamins. In the diet, these compounds are found in plenty in places like fish oil, flax seed and vegetable oils. Unfortunately, when ingesting fatty acids from seafood, there is always an increased risk of mercury exposure which makes alternative sources like purified prenatal vitamins more attractive.
Omega-3, docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are special types of fatty acids that are important in prenatal physiology. Omega-3 fatty acids are typically thought of in their active forms – DHA and EPA. Why are DHA and EPA considered important by many as an ingredient in prenatal vitamins? The most important reason that some people want the best prenatal vitamin with DHA is that fatty acids like DHA and EPA play an important role in the development of the baby’s nervous system. In particular, DHA is needed to help the brain and eyes develop in the growing baby. It is also thought that DHA plays a role in helping to stabilize emotional mood swings in the mother, making the pregnancy more enjoyable. Most guidelines recommend that 200mg of DHA are ingested daily during the prenatal period.
Calcium is a mineral that is needed by the bones in the body. As the bone structure grows in a new baby, high amounts of calcium are used to build out the bony structures. As the baby absorbs calcium from the mother, the mother also runs the risk of becoming deficient in calcium. This is why calcium is often an important ingredient in the best prenatal vitamins and definitely something to consider in any prenatals that you choose.
Many prenatal vitamins contain probiotic strains. While dedicated probiotic supplements exist to help people restore their gut flora for a variety of reasons, probiotics are also found in prenatal vitamins to help improve digestion during pregnancy – a time when the digestive tract is not functioning at 100% percent.
The understanding of the important roles that Vitamin D has in the body has increased over time. For a long time, vitamin D has been known to help with absorbing calcium from food in the intestines. More recently, some studies say that Vitamin D may other roles such as boosting the immune system and helping with overall tissue health. While Vitamin D is not present in some prenatal vitamins, it is something to consider as a possible ingredient and also something that can be taken as a supplement on its own.
Prenatal Vitamins Before Pregnancy
While many people think of prenatal vitamins as something that you should only take during pregnancy, the best prenatal vitamins offer a nutritional boost that extends beyond that time of life. Taking prenatal vitamins before pregnancy is usually a good idea for anyone who wants to replete any nutrients missing prior to becoming pregnant. If you believe that, then the best time when to start taking prenatal vitamins is as soon as possible.
There are some reports that even the best prenatal vitamins will make you gain weight. Usually, this is not the case although there may be situations when a prenatal supplement contains added sugar which, in quantity, might be like taking a spoon full of sugar every day. If you are concerned about gaining weight, the best bet is to take a quick look at the inactive ingredients in a specific prenatal vitamin to make sure it does not contain hidden ingredients that cause weight gain.
Prenatal Vitamins with DHA
Given the importance of DHA, is it necessary to get a prenatal vitamin that has DHA in it? Good question and one that has some varied answers. All things being equal, have a top prenatal vitamin with DHA certainly does give one some advantages. After all, current research shows that the extra nutrition that DHA provides in the diet can be beneficial, especially in the pregnant mother and for her growing fetus.
However, DHA a prenatal vitamin with DHA does have a few downsides worth mentioning. First of all, DHA in prenatal supplements is typically retrieved from a fish source which makes it unusable for vegans and vegetarians. To date, we haven’t seen a quality prenatal vitamin with DHA that is not made from a fish source. Additionally, prenatal vitamins with DHA tend to be on the pricier side which might affect people with tighter budgets. Also, some people feel that DHA is obtainable in adequate supplies from regular dietary sources. Unfortunately, most of those sources of DHA specifically are from fish with eggs being the vegetarian (not vegan) option with a low dose.
Ultimately, it is a personal decision as to whether one should get a top prenatal vitamin with DHA. It is helpful to note that there are prescription prenatal vitamins with DHA that are used by a number of mothers but these will require a prescription from your doctor.
Prenatal Vitamins – Special Situations
There are specific situations in which having the best prenatal vitamins are even more essential for health. Many people have higher metabolic needs at baseline than the average person because of a co-existing condition in their body. For people in these situations, prenatal vitamins can provide a necessary boost even when one is eating a balanced diet.
Vegan / Vegetarians. People who eat vegan or vegetarian diets may be missing out on B vitamins and supplementing them in these situations is important.
Smokers. Some research has suggested that pregnant women who have smoked in the past might have vitamin deficiencies that could affect the fetus. For example, Vitamin C levels might be lower in smokers and require additional supplementation that, to some extent, could be mitigated by prenatal vitamins. Unfortunately, it is also possible that even the best prenatal vitamins may not reverse the dangerous effects of smoking during pregnancy.
Chronic Diseases. Chronic, or long-term, diseases like lupus or thyroid conditions cause an ongoing stimulation of the immune system. The immune system, thinking it is fighting a foreign invader, continually attacks the body and, as a result, produces more immune cells and antibodies. This ongoing battle results in higher nutritional needs at baseline. When something like pregnancy happens, the nutritional needs skyrocket on top of an already elevated baseline, making it even more important to take good. prenatal vitamins.
Gastric Bypass. Gastric bypass surgery is a type of surgery in which the stomach or intestines are modified to help someone lose weight. One consequence of gastric bypass is that the body’s ability to absorb specific types of vitamins is subsequently impaired. For example, people who have undergone gastric bypass surgery typically need to take Vitamin B12 for the rest of their lives. If someone who has had gastric bypass surgery gets pregnant, the metabolic needs are even higher which makes prenatal vitamins even more important.
Eating Disorders. Eating disorders are conditions in which people either do not eat enough or they eat and then purge (i.e. vomit) the food out deliberately. It is an unfortunate condition psychologically not to mention the metabolic toll it takes on the body by not getting enough nutrition. People with baseline eating disorders can also be considered to require increased nutrition intake and will benefit from taking prenatal vitamins. In particular, liquid prenatal vitamins may be a helpful way to go.
Multiple Gestations. Multiple gestations refers to having more than one baby at a time (e.g. twins, triplets). As one might expect, feeding multiple babies causes a significant increase in the nutrition required by the mother. Prenatal vitamins can play an important role in supplementing women who have multiple gestations.
Third-Party Prenatal Vitamin Analysis
The vitamin industry is not as tightly regulated at a federal level as prescription medications are. Consequently, one might find a wide range of quality and purity across the spectrum of prenatal vitamin products out there. Given the wide range in quality, some people value companies that perform an independent analysis on their prenatal vitamins to make sure that they are getting the best prenatal vitamins and ingredients out there.
Here are three of the most reputable companies that verify prenatal vitamins and provide independent seals of approvals:
– U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP)
– NSF International
– Consumer Lab
Men & Prenatal Vitamins
The term “prenatal” immediately makes one think of women (particularly pregnant women). While most people appreciate the need for prenatal vitamins in pregnant women, can non-pregnant women and men also take prenatal vitamins?
The answer is a yes. Barring an allergy to an ingredient (highly uncommon), the evidence says that prenatal vitamins can boost one’s health beyond pregnancy and in men as well. That being said, one must remember that prenatal vitamins are generally designed to meet the needs of pregnant women. As a result, a caveat to long-term use of a good quality prenatal vitamin outside of pregnancy is that the ingredients in the vitamin might not meet all of the nutritional needs of the person taking them. One might consider adding to their prenatal vitamin with other supplements that are age and gender appropriate.
Prenatal Vitamins – Risks and Considerations
It goes without saying that the use of any medication or prenatal vitamins, especially during pregnancy, should be done with the consultation of your pregnancy doctor. Like most things, prenatal vitamins can pose some risk if too many are taken at once and, as a result, high levels of vitamins or minerals accumulate in your body. This might be even more of a problem if you like the taste of your prenatal vitamins. Also, even the best prenatal vitamins usually contain some synthetic ingredients and our knowledge of how manufactured ingredients interact with our body is not perfect yet. Another possible issue is that some people might eating nutritious food if taking the best prenatal vitamins because they feel like they are getting enough nutrients from the vitamins themselves. This is usually a bad idea because even top quality prenatal vitamins cannot substitute for a healthy, balanced diet.
Prenatal Vitamins – Final Thoughts
We hope you enjoyed our review of the best prenatal vitamins out there. Good luck if you are using prenatal vitamins because you are expecting or for general long-term health.
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Prenatal Vitamins – References
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