The 5 Best Prenatal Vitamins

When you’re pregnant, your body gets depleted of certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Luckily, with today’s technology, we know which crucial substances mothers are likely to be lacking in. We also have supplements formulated to address the issue so that both you and your baby are as healthy as possible.

With so many brands and different prenatal supplement products out there, it can be hard to decide which one is the best for you.

At USA Consumer Report, our goal is to always narrow down the choices to the best products so the decision is easier for you. That’s what we’ve done with prenatal vitamins.

In this article, we’ve taken an objective, in-depth look at the best prenatal vitamins on the market. We based our decision on each product’s active ingredients, overall formula, consumer satisfaction, brand reputation, and price.

 

What Are Prenatal Vitamins and Do You Need to Take Them?

When pregnant, it’s important that you get a sufficient amount of certain vitamins, not only for the mother’s health but for the baby’s as well. There is very important neurological development that goes on throughout pregnancy, and there are several vitamins essential to it.

Prenatal vitamins are collections of vitamins manufactured with the most important ones needed for a successful pregnancy. The most vital vitamins (and their daily recommended value) in a pregnancy include:

  • Calcium: 1000mg. It’s important for expecting mothers to get enough calcium to avoid losing bone density and also provide calcium for the baby’s developing bones.

 

  • Vitamin D: 600 IU. Vitamin D plays a large role in bone health, cell division, and immune function. It’s estimated that between 40%-60% of the whole U.S. population has a vitamin D deficiency and pregnancy can make it worse.

 

  • Folic Acid: 600mcg. Folic acid/folate is important as it’s required for growth throughout life because it’s used by your body to produce new cells and DNA. It’s also important for babies because, without it, they can be born with serious birth defects such as cleft palate, cleft lip, congenital heart defects, and neural tube defects.

 

  • Iron: 27mg. Getting enough iron is essential during pregnancy because, in the mother’s body, iron is used to make the baby’s blood. Pregnant mothers should be getting about double the iron normally needed.

 

These are important vitamins during pregnancy as well:

  • Vitamin A: 770 mcg. Vitamin A is important to immune function, eye health, and fetal growth. Pregnant women are susceptible to a deficiency in vitamin A, especially during the second and third trimester.

 

  • Vitamin B6: 1.9 mg. Vitamin B6 helps form blood cells, neurotransmitters, and antibodies. It helps to carbohydrates and protein. It’s essential for the development of a baby’s brain development and nervous system. Vitamin B6 has also been shown to provide relief for the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy.

 

  • Vitamin B12: 2.6 mcg. Vitamin B12 is important for maintaining the health of and growing the spine and central nervous system.

 

Prenatal vitamins are not a replacement for a balanced diet, and you should be working with your doctor to make sure that you’re getting the absolute best diet possible while your pregnant.

The thing is, even with an excellent diet while pregnant, your body can become depleted. Where prenatal vitamins shine is in making up the difference of those lost vitamins.

Now that we know a few reasons why prenatal vitamins are important, here are our choices for the best prenatal vitamins based on our analysis.

1. Mama Bird Prenatal Vitamins

Image of a bottle of Mama Bird Prenatal Vitamins

The Mama Bird Prenatal Vitamins by Best Nest Wellness supplement is unique in that it’s an all-around prenatal vitamin plus some extras. It has a robust mix of vitamins essential during pregnancy and what Mama Bird calls an “organic wellness” blend to boot. Their unique vegan formula consists of digestive enzymes, probiotics, and an organic herbal blend.

According to Best Nest Wellness, their supplement was formulated by a board-certified expert in neurology, so you get the peace of mind knowing that each active ingredient is necessary and going to be effective.

The “organic wellness blend” included with this vitamin consists of:

  • Organic red raspberry leaf: Is an antioxidant and could help relieve pregnancy side effects such as nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea
  • Organic ginger root: Also helps with nausea/vomiting/morning sickness
  • Organic Chamomile: Is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and helps with sleep

In addition, the product also contains probiotics and enzymes, which are good for digestion.

This vitamin is methylated, meaning your body will be able to metabolize it easier.

Mama Bird Prenatal Vitamins do not contain any nuts, soy, fish or shellfish, dairy/lactose, GMOs, yeast, sugar, artificial colors/flavors, or preservatives, so they’re safe if you have allergies. They’re vegan-friendly as well.

Pros:

  • Has a wide variety of vitamins that often get depleted during pregnancy
  • Has additional health benefits from Best Nest Wellness’ organic wellness blend, probiotics, and enzymes
  • Relatively affordable
  • Easy on your stomach

Cons:

  • Has a lower level of magnesium
  • Has a slight odor and taste

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2. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal

Image of a bottle of Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal

Garden of Life has done a good job of making a vitamin packed with ingredients that are good for both mother and baby with their Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal.

This vitamin has been specifically formulated to include the essentials for healthy neural tube development. Namely the inclusion and amount of vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and folate.

For digestive support, the vitamin includes probiotics, ginger, and zinc.

Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal was made to be used before, during, and after pregnancy. Its ingredients will help your body prepare for getting pregnant, nourish you and your growing baby during pregnancy, and is good to keep taking through the process of breastfeeding.

There are no fillers, synthetic binders, artificial flavors/sweeteners, fillers or other additives so you’re just getting what your body needs with no other nonsense added. It’s also produced with no high heat, so the probiotic microorganisms and other ingredients aren’t harmed or degraded.

Pros:

  • Good formula for taking before, during, and after being pregnant
  • Has added digestive support
  • Vegan-friendly

Cons:

  • Several consumers have noted it causes them stomachaches, which is something a prenatal should help, not cause
  • Can cause gas/bloating/constipation
  • We’d like if it had more calcium

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3. SmartyPants Prenatal Complete

Image of SmartyPants Prenatal Complete, the best prenatal gummy vitamin

The SmartyPants Prenatal Complete vitamin is missing a couple of the vitamins we’d like to see, and/or has low levels of some, but is still a solid choice when it comes to buying a prenatal.

One of those missing vitamins is iron, which they didn’t include because of how good the gummies taste, which could lead to an iron overdose. If you feel like taking this prenatal, consider asking your doctor if you should also take an iron supplement along with it.

Due to having a more difficult manufacturing process, gummy vitamins are usually going to have a few compromises.

For many, pills in tablet form just aren’t an option because it causes an upset stomach. If you fall into that category, this is a great option for you.

SmartyPants Prenatal Complete’s formula includes many of the standard prenatal vitamins, plus fish oil sourced from wild-caught small fish, which contains EPA and DHA. These are Omega-3s that provide multiple health benefits. According to the American Pregnancy Association, EPA “supports the heart, immune system, and inflammatory response” and DHA “supports the brain, eyes, and central nervous system”.

This product is non-GMO and is free of peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, gluten, wheat, and soy. There are no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors, which are often found in gummy vitamins.

Pros: 

  • Easy on the stomach
  • Taste great

Cons:

  • Are too sweet for some
  • Some consumers report quality control issues
  • A serving size is 6 gummies. We find this very excessive and would like that number to be knocked down to 2.

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4. New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin

Image of NewChpater Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin

This may be a lesser-known brand, but New Chapter’s Perfect Prenatal Multivitamin is a prenatal vitamin that hits all the necessary marks and then some. Its formula is well-made for both mother and baby.

Aside from the typical vitamins found in prenatal supplements, it also has a prenatal herbal blend, cruciferous sprouts blend, ginger, and organic turmeric.

These are made with vegetable capsules, so they are very easy on the stomach for a pill.

According to New Chapter, their product is the first prenatal vitamin to be made with Certified Organic Vegetables & Herbs. It’s also non-GMO project verified, and free of gluten and animal gelatin. It’s kosher, vegetarian, and doesn’t contain any synthetic fillers.

Pros:

  • Has the vitamins you’d expect in a multivitamin plus an additional blend
  • All-natural formula
  • Uses folate rather than folic acid

Cons:

  • Serving size is 3 tablets, which we think is too much
  • Is on the more expensive side

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5. Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA

Image of Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA Supplement

Nordic Naturals – Prenatal DHA is not a multivitamin, but we included it in our list because we think every pregnant woman should be taking a DHA supplement in addition to multivitamin supplementation.

This prenatal DHA by Nordic Naturals is the official Omega-3 of the American Pregnancy Association, so you know it’s a product you can trust.

Omega-3s are important for everyone, but even more so for pregnant women. Unfortunately, deficiency is common.

As mentioned previously, Omega-3s, and particularly DHA, is crucial for the development of a baby’s nervous system. And because so many Omega-3s go towards that, the mother’s get depleted.

A serving size for this product is 2 soft gels, which is fine, although we’d prefer it to come in a capsule for those who have a hard time digesting soft gels.

It contains 830 mgs of Omega-3s, consisting of 205 mg of EPA, 480 mg of DHA, and 145 mg of other Omega-3s. This is within the amount that international experts recommend so you know it’s safe for you and your baby.

Pros:

  • Provides a strong dose of DHA and other Omega-3s needed during pregnancy
  • Made with true triglyceride so that it’s absorbed properly and provides real results
  • No fish burps or bad aftertaste

Cons:

  • Larger size makes them difficult to swallow
  • Some consumers have said it caused them to break out

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Conclusion

Based on the available evidence and prenatal vitamin formulas out on the market, we believe Mama Bird Prenatal Vitamins are the best prenatal vitamins for most mothers. It ticks all the boxes as far as essential prenatal vitamins go, plus some extras.

That being said, we do recommend getting a healthy dose of DHA to go along with it.

Even though Best Nest Wellness took the top spot for this comparison, you really can’t go wrong with any of these vitamin supplements.

If there’s any takeaway though, it’s to be sure to take prenatal multivitamins throughout your pregnancy and a little after so that both mother and baby get the nutrients they need.

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