What Are The Best Prenatal Vitamins During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your baby gets all the necessary nutrients from you. Although a healthy diet is the best way to get the vitamins and minerals you need, you may fall short on key nutrients when pregnant. To fuel yourself and your growing baby, you’ll need to make great food choices from a variety of sources. A balanced diet consists of foundation in plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. But, let’s face it, it’s not always easy to keep a balanced diet, and this is where prenatal vitamins can help fill any gaps.
Taking prenatal vitamins daily is a wonderful insurance policy that will help you be extra sure that you and your baby get all the nutrients you need during this important time when you’re pregnant.
Before we get to the best prenatal vitamins to buy over the counter, keep reading to get a clear understanding of all the vitamins that you need during pregnancy to make sure that you give life to a healthy child.
What exactly are prenatal vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are supplements that contain daily vitamins and minerals you need before and during your pregnancy. You need to ensure you have all the necessary nutrients to support you and your growing baby. During pregnancy, your body requires more of certain nutrients such as folate, calcium, iron, vitamin D, and iodine. Prenatal vitamins help prevent neural tube defects, support the development of the placenta, help promote the development of the baby’s teeth and bones, and may help to lower the risk of autism in children.
Which nutrients are most important during pregnancy?
All nutrients are important, but these six play a key role in your baby’s growth and development during pregnancy:
During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases by about 20-30 percent, which increases the supply of iron and other vitamins that your body needs to make hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the body’s tissues and returns carbon dioxide from the tissues back to the lungs. During pregnancy, you need to double the amount of iron that nonpregnant women need to help your body make more blood to supply oxygen and support the growth of your baby.
If you’re not getting enough iron or certain other nutrients, your body might not be able to produce the amount of red blood cells it needs. This means that you may develop anemia while pregnant. It’s normal to have mild anemia when you’re pregnant, but you may have more severe anemia from low iron or vitamin levels or from other reasons. Anemia is generally defined according to hemoglobin levels, which means that if you have lower than normal levels of hemoglobin or hematocrit, you may have iron-deficiency anemia.
There are three types of anemia during pregnancy; iron-deficiency anemia, folate-deficiency anemia, and vitamin B12 deficiency. Anemia can leave you feeling tired and weak. And if severe anemia is not treated, it can increase your risk of serious complications like preterm delivery.
Folic acid, also known as folate, is the natural form of vitamin B9, water-soluble and naturally found in many foods. Folate plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and helps your baby’s neural tube develop into their brain and spinal cord. If we do not have enough folic acid, the body can make abnormally large red blood cells that do not work properly. This causes folate deficiency anemia, which can cause tiredness and other symptoms.
If a pregnant woman doesn’t get enough folic acid before and during pregnancy, her baby is at a higher risk for neural tube defects that affect the spine, spinal cord, brain and may cause death. Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant should get at least 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid daily before conception and for at least 3 months afterward.
Calcium is a mineral that helps your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles, and nerves develop. During pregnancy, you need 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. You can get this amount by taking your prenatal vitamin and eating food that has a lot of calcium in it. To get adequate amounts of calcium during pregnancy, drink three 8-ounce glasses of nonfat milk each day, or eat a variety of other calcium-rich foods such as yogurt, cheese, dark leafy greens (such as kale and spinach), almonds, and calcium-fortified orange juice. Pregnant women who chronically consume low amounts of calcium may be at risk for an increased bone turnover. If your pregnancy diet does not provide enough calcium, then the body steals it from the bones.
Consumption of excess calcium will be in vain if your body doesn’t have enough Vitamin D. In other words, Vitamin D is responsible for providing excellent assistance to your body with improving the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy improves maternal vitamin D status and may reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia, low birth weight, and preterm birth. Inadequate vitamin D can lead to abnormal bone growth, fractures, or rickets in newborns.
Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy occurs frequently but is completely preventable. While most nutrients in circulation increase during pregnancy, hemodilution may cause Vitamin D concentrations to decrease as early as 10 weeks gestation. Therefore, most pregnant women have low Vitamin D blood levels.
During pregnancy, you need 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D each day. You can get this amount from food or your prenatal vitamin. Good sources of vitamin D are fatty fish (such as salmon) and milk and cereal that has vitamin D added to it.
Iodine is one of the essential minerals your body needs during pregnancy. That’s because it is responsible for making thyroid hormones, which help your body use and store energy from food and regulate the development of the fetal brain and nervous system. A woman’s iodine requirements increase substantially during pregnancy to ensure adequate supply to the fetus. In order for pregnant women to produce enough thyroid hormones to meet both her own and her baby’s requirements, a 50% increase in iodine intake is recommended. This means that you need 220 micrograms of iodine every day, during pregnancy. Not all prenatal vitamins contain iodine, so make sure you eat foods that have iodine in them. Good sources of iodine are fish, dairy products, and iodine enriched foods like cereal, bread, and iodized salt.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is a primary structural component of the human brain, cerebral cortex, skin, and retina. During pregnancy, you need DHA to help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. It can also contribute to the overall health and development throughout pregnancy.
You need to consume about 200mg of DHA while you are pregnant. Good sources of DHA are fish (like salmon, herring, trout, shrimps), orange juice, milk, and eggs. If you find it a difficult task to get all the omega 33 fatty acids that your body needs from the food you consume, DHA supplements would be the best option available for you to provide the recommended daily DHA intake for your body. Not all prenatal vitamins contain DHA, so ask your provider if you need to take a DHA supplement.
Best Prenatal Vitamins to Buy Over the Counter
There is no substitute for a healthy diet, but even the most health-conscious pregnant women are probably taking a few pregnancy essential vitamins and minerals to ensure their babies are getting all the nutrients they need. So if you’re looking for the best prenatal vitamins on the market, here are our top picks.
Best prenatal vitamins with Folate – Ritual Prenatal Vitamins
Available through subscription, Ritual prenatal vitamins contain 12 essential vitamins that a pregnant woman needs, including 350 mg of vegan DHA from microalgae and 2,000 IU of vitamin D. Ritual’s capsules are specifically designed to be easy on an empty stomach and have a pleasant citrus aftertaste. If you’re about knowing where your food comes from, you’re going to love Ritual prenatal vitamins, since it not only specifies the exact form of their vitamins and minerals but also where each nutrient is sourced. The purpose of prenatal vitamins is to help fuel our bodies during pregnancy with all the essential nutrients that we need to grow a healthy baby, but the Ritual prenatal vitamins do more than that. They also help prevent you from feeling depleted with no energy, the opposite, many expecting moms experience an increased energy and nausea relief. This is the reason why there is almost always a waitlist to buy these prenatal vitamins.
You can’t go wrong with One A Day’s prenatal vitamins that are some great vitamins to take because they are filled with all the nesseary prenatal vitamins all in one pill. They contain all the essential nutrients such as iron, vitamin D, and folic acid, plus a few important extras, like DHA and B6. These pills don’t leave an aftertaste after taking them and they are easy to swallow as well. The One A Day prenatal vitamins offer the most and often have the highest serving when compared to other vitamins, and the price is fair!
Best raw prenatal vitamins – Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Multi is formulated and distributed by Garden of Life LLC that uses a proprietary process to convert synthetic vitamins into “natural” nutrients. Essentially they feed conventional vitamins to yeast, then market the resulting by-product as a raw, whole-food multivitamin. They contain folate and gentle iron, vitamin D3 for optimal calcium absorption, vitamins A, E, B complex, and other important vitamins and minerals. The good thing about these prenatal vitamins is that they come with live probiotics, amino acids, and other co-factors, which enhance the absorption of the vitamins. Vitamin Code prenatal vitamins considered to be one of the better multivitamins available on the market today, and it is also important to note that these vitamins are not extracted from real food, the manufacturer simply converts conventional vitamins into more “natural” form through a culturing process involving yeast, and these vitamins are not vegan (their vitamin D is derived from lanolin).
Best Organic Prenatal Vitamins – New Chapter
New Chapter prenatal vitamins are 7 nutrient-packed tablets that contain superfoods and safe herbs, plus fermented nutrients to support you and your baby’s healthy development. They provide 100% daily value of iron, plus folate, B vitamins, vitamin D3, vitamin C, A, and zinc. Gentle on an empty stomach, the New Chapter’s vitamins ease morning sickness with a clinical dose of organic ginger and help expecting moms to have a better pregnancy experience. New Chapter prenatal vitamins are made with organic whole-food ingredients and formulated with methyl folate, which is the most bioactive form of folate, a B vitamin that is vital for your baby’s brain and spinal cord development.
Best gummy prenatal vitamins – Smarty Pants
Smarty Pants prenatal gummy vitamins are free of artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and the top eight allergens, which makes them one of the best prenatal gummy vitamins available on the market. They don’t contain synthetic colors or artificial flavors, and each batch is third-party tested for purity. Smarty Pants prenatal gummy vitamins come in lemon, orange, and strawberry-banana flavors and you’ll need to eat six a day to get your daily required amount of folic acid and vitamin D during pregnancy. These gummy vitamins are perfect for pregnant women who experience difficulty consuming the regular prenatal pills, but it is important to note that they are lack calcium and iron.
Best prenatal DHA – Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA
For a DHA-only supplement, Nordic Natural Prenatal DHA is the best. It has 480 mg DHA and a total of 830 mg of omega-3s, and it has a subtle strawberry flavor without the fishy taste when taking it. Including a DHA supplement in your daily routine is both safe and helpful during pregnancy. At a minimum, you should aim for a prenatal vitamin or supplement that has 200 mg of DHA. If you are not getting DHA through dietary consumption of fatty fish and DHA-fortified foods, Nordic Natural Prenatal DHA is a good option for you.
Solgar, Gentle Iron, 25 mg
If you have iron-deficiency anemia, taking iron supplementation is the best way to deal with it. There are different forms of iron, though, and some tend to cause worse side effects than others. In general, iron tends to cause stomach discomfort and constipation, but this form of iron, iron bis-glycinate, is a chelated form that usually has fewer to no side effects. Make sure to consult your doctor before taking any iron supplements. If you wish to increase your dietary iron intake without taking supplements, you can add a number of iron-rich foods such as liver, lean red meat, tofu, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, lentils, and beans.
Is it ok to take gummy prenatal vitamins?
Yes, it is! especially if you have trouble swallowing pills. Many times, prenatal vitamins in pill-form have been known to cause upset stomach, particularly when there are several pills in one serving. This is what makes gummy prenatal vitamins so effective and easy to consume.
What are the possible side effects of prenatal multivitamins?
Most women who take prenatal vitamins experience little or no side effects. The iron in prenatal vitamins may cause constipation, and some women complain of nausea. You may also have diarrhea, dark tools, low appetite, and stomach upset or cramps. It is important not to take too many vitamins or minerals to avoid an overdose that can cause severe or life-threatening side effects and even harm your unborn baby. Before taking any prenatal vitamins, talk to your doctor or nurse about the dose that is right for you. They can recommend the best vitamins specifically for you, on top of folic acid.
Do prenatal vitamins make you gain weight?
There is no evidence that prenatal vitamins make you gain weight. Most pregnant women gain about 25-30 pounds throughout their pregnancy whether they use prenatal vitamins or not. And since vitamins contain zero calories, the weight gain is likely just due to the pregnancy itself.
When is the best time to take prenatal vitamins?
Since prenatal vitamins are multivitamins, taking them before lunch is an optimal time to absorb all that they contain.
When do you need to start taking prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant?
So much of a baby’s development happens during the early weeks of pregnancy, this is why it is very important to start taking prenatal vitamins before you start trying to get pregnant. Most doctors recommend starting a prenatal at least 3 months before getting pregnant.
What happens if you miss a day of prenatal vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins are an important part of your pregnancy nutrition, but they are never a substitute for a healthy well-balanced diet. If you forgot your vitamins once in a while, you should not panic and DO NOT “double-up” because they may make you feel sick or increase constipation.
Have you announced your pregnancy yet?
If not, here are a few creative ideas for pregnancy announcement: