Pregnancy is a time full of excitement, expectations, and preparations. To support an optimal start to life, a healthy diet on mom’s side is essential for the baby. While “eating for two,” prenatal supplements ensure that mother and child get all the necessary nutrients, such as folic acid. But different moms have different nutritional needs and sometimes restrictions. Finding the right prenatal vitamins among oh so many products isn’t easy, yet crucial. Because we want to reduce any unnecessary stress for your growing family, StudyFinds gathered expert recommendations to find the very best prenatal vitamins for you to choose from.
What not to take when pregnant is pretty obvious. Of course alcohol is a no-no, as it can cause fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) – a combination of developmental deficits, neurological impairment, and recognizably abnormal facial development – and other adverse outcomes. Caffeine, cannabis, and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are also risky, according to the latest research.
Beneficial nutrients, on the other hand, support a healthy development and include vitamin D, which positively impacts the unborn child’s intelligence, and vitamin C, which may protect babies from losing their memory later in life. Another essential nutrient is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as a German study confirms: “The results demonstrate that the quality of maternal nutrient supply during the period of rapid early brain development in pregnancy has a lasting impact on later brain function at school age. Therefore, women before and during pregnancy should be supported in achieving a good quality diet and be counseled on potential fish oil supplement use,” said researcher Berthold Koletzko, Head of the Division of Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine at Dr. von Hauner Children’s Hospital at the University of Munich Medical Center.
For a healthy life, the right prenatal supplement should include everything the baby needs in the right amount and balance out any deficiencies in the mother’s diet. StudyFinds reviewed the recommendations of health experts across ten websites to create a list of the top five best prenatal vitamins that ensure the well-being of mothers and children. Of course, always consult with your doctor and nutritionist about what’s best for you before starting any type of treatment. Let us know your recommendations in the comments!
The List: Best Prenatal Vitamins According to Experts
Nature Made Prenatal Multi + DHA emerged as the clear first choice for prenatal vitamins with ten out of ten experts recommending this product. And it’s affordable! For Forbes, Nature Made Prenatal Multi + DHA is the best value pick as well as a five-star supplement: “This vitamin is a top choice for its ‘cost and ease’” because it “has everything needed in the formulation.”
The Nature Made prenatal vitamins are also “a winner at the 2022 Mom Must-Have Awards” by What To Expect. “What our community members love most about the Nature Made prenatals is how gentle they are on the stomach — and you won’t be left with any bitterness. Many moms also praised the softgel capsules for being easy to swallow, and free from both the chalky aftertaste of uncoated pills and the excess sugar of gummy vitamins. Plus, you’ll only need to take one a day, so the bottle will last up to three months depending on what size you buy.”
Per Babylist, “Nature Made prenatal vitamins are a great value and readily available at most drugstores. They provide your full quota of folic acid, iron and vitamin D as well as other essential vitamins. They even contain the full recommended amount of DHA (great if you don’t regularly eat fish).” Note: Babylist points out that these vitamins “are skimpy on calcium, with only 150 mg.” They also contain gelatine, meaning they are not vegetarian.
For vegetarians or vegans, this is an excellent choice. With seven out of ten expert recommendations, Ritual Essential Prenatal Multivitamin is the best product for vegans according to The Bump and MedicalNewsToday: “These prenatal vitamins are vegan and non-GMO. They are also free from gluten and other major allergens.”
“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,” writes Healthline. “Specifically, the prenatal offers more than 100% of your daily needs for folate, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. It also includes docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 from algae, so it’s a suitable option for those following a vegan diet.”
But wait, there’s more: From Verywell Family, “Ritual gets bonus points for offering all of these essentials into just two pills. It can be daunting to swallow multiple pills per day, and it might not be so friendly on your tummy. [They] have designed something called a Smart Capsule, which delays the release of nutrients in the body, so they are released in the part of your gut where they are absorbed, an area that is also less sensitive to digestive upset. […] Ritual also features transparent sourcing of all of their ingredients and does comprehensive third-party testing for identity, purity, strength, and composition as well as for heavy metals, microbes, allergens and other potential contaminants.”
If you prefer gummies to pills, the SmartyPants Prenatal Formula may be for you. Three of the seven experts recommending it have this product listed as the best gummy. It is further prasied for being allergy friendly (MedicalNewsToday) and organic (The Bump).
“Real talk: keeping anything down can be a major challenge for some parents-to-be. But some swear that vitamin gummies do the trick,” claims Babylist. “Smarty Pants gummy vitamins come in lemon, orange and strawberry-banana flavors and have zero artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives or high fructose corn syrup. You’ll need to eat six a day to get the amount of folic acid and vitamin D required for pregnant women. And you’ll even get a bit of DHA too (48 mg).”
However, while “Smarty Pants’ prenatal does include all of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), folate as L-methylfolate, and a small amount of choline and omega-3 fatty acids,” per Verywell Family, “because some nutrients are more bulky, and manufacturers can’t squeeze them into a few gummies, they are left out. Keep in mind that you might need additional calcium, iron, or magnesium if you choose this product.”
This prenatal supplement keeps it as natural as possible. While short on iron and calcium, “MegaFood prenatals use nutrients paired with real food to deliver the nutrition you need throughout your pregnancy,” states Babylist.
What’s more, “this prenatal also meets certifications for safety and purity, including non-GMO ingredients, making it an ultra-clean pick for you and baby. For those who have a tough time swallowing pills (pregnant or not), MegaGood also makes a mini version,” points out The Bump.
Other than the somewhat low iron content, this product is also suitable for vegetarians: “MegaFood Baby & Me 2 is a good option for those with dietary restrictions as it’s gluten-, soy- and dairy-free. It’s also vegetarian, non-GMO and Kosher. There’s no DHA in this one, but it can be paired with the MegaFood Baby & Me 2 Prenatal DHA and Choline supplement, sold separately,” writes CNET.
Another expert-recommended gummy option (though not with as many recommendations as SmartyPants) are Vitafusion’s prenatal gummies. “If you’re gagging over your prenatal pill, gummies can be a good alternative — just note that gummy vitamins tend not to have iron or calcium,” says The Bump.
According to MedicalNewsToday, “Vitafusion Prenatal Gummy Vitamins provide 100% of the Daily Value (DV) of folic acid. They also provide 50 mg of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which supports the development of the brain and eyes.” However, “Vitafusion gummies contain tuna and soy, so are not suitable for people with allergies to either of these ingredients.”
“Vitafusion Prenatal Gummies pack many of the essential nutrients you need (including DHA) into a lemon- or raspberry lemonade-flavored chew. Plus, they also contain 800 IU of vitamin D, which is more than the daily value for pregnant women and aids in bone growth and could help your immune system. Just note that you’ll need to ask your practitioner if you should supplement with calcium and iron separately because this option lacks both,” What To Expect recommends.
Bonus Luxury Option: Perelel Prenatal Packs
While they lack ease of use (you need to take a couple of different capsules) and affordability, Perel offers excellent nutrition for mama and baby. “The first thing that stands out about Perelel’s prenatal vitamin packs is that they were formulated by a panel of obstetricians and maternal-fetal medicine doctors. The second is what’s inside; instead of just one vitamin, each packet contains a core prenatal plus other capsules that support the different nutrients you need at different times during your pregnancy,” adds Babylist.
“Perelel is a subscription service that delivers prenatal supplements tailored to the trimester of pregnancy you’re currently in,” explains Healthline. “For example, the First Trimester Prenatal Support Pack contains extra folate, as well as added B6 and ginger to combat nausea. […] Each product is free of artificial additives and third-party tested for accuracy and purity.”
“Pregnancy is a constant state of flux, and the need for some nutrients will change as you progress through each trimester. Perelel takes a unique approach and designs prenatal supplements based on trimester-specific needs. Each trimester subscription comes conveniently packed in a small sachet and starts with the core prenatal and omega-3. Then there are different add-ons. […] Perelel’s products are non-GMO and dairy- and gluten-free. […] Since it prides itself on high-quality ingredients and customization, it has a higher price point than other prenatals,” says Verywell Family.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Postnatal Vitamins
- Best Vitamins For Your Immune System
- Best Baby Bottles For 2023
- Best Organic Baby Formula
- Best Children’s Multivitamins
- What To Expect
- Verywell Family
- The Bump
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.