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Are All Prenatal Vitamins The Same

More Doesn’t Mean Better

Important Questions About Prenatal Vitamins

There are a lot of important vitamins and minerals needed for pregnancy. Getting them all in an individual pill, in addition to eating a well-balanced diet, could be a lot to swallow . I generally recommend taking a prenatal that meets all or most of your recommended nutrient needs.

While you may not find an all-inclusive prenatal that suits your specific needs, you may only have one or two extras to add, rather than remembering to take several pills during the day. Additionally, this can help reduce the risk of nutrient deficiencies and overdoing it .

Do You Need To Take Prenatal Vitamins When Pregnant

Yes, you need to take prenatal vitamins while pregnant. Prenatal vitamins are specially designed to deliver the specific types and amounts of nutrients needed during various stages of your babys development, so a run-of-the-mill multivitamin wont cut it. They also ensure you have enough nutrients so your own body doesnt become depleted.

Folic acid, for example, is essential for babys brain and spine development in the earliest stages. Your body needs twice as much iron during pregnancy than it did before you were pregnant. And many prenatals also have vitamin D and calcium to build strong bones and teeth during the third trimester.

What Vitamins Need To Be In Them

Its important to remember that each person has slightly different nutritional needs based on genetics and any pre-existing health conditions. Always check with your provider about your specific needs for a prenatal, and if you’re a vegetarian or vegan during pregnancy, be sure to tell your doctor to ensure you’re getting the right nutrients.

That said, the following vitamins and minerals, listed here with the recommended daily amount , are considered must-haves during pregnancy. You can get many of these nutrients in your diet, but prenatal vitamins are meant to fill in any gaps. Note that while you shouldnt expect your prenatal to contain full RDAs of every single ingredient listed, they should have decent doses of the following:

You may also want to consider these extras when selecting a prenatal vitamin:

  • DHA: Regular prenatal vitamins may not contain DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid found in many types of fish. DHA may aid in babys brain development, both before and after birth. If youre unable to get the recommended two to three servings of pregnancy-safe fatty fish per week, ask your doctor if you should take a supplement.
  • Other nutrients: You might also see several other additions on the label such as copper, choline, thiamin, vitamin B12, magnesium and ginger or vitamin B6 .

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Great Prenatal Vitamins For Anyone Whos Pregnant Or Trying To Be

All products featured on SELF are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

When youre pregnant, there is a lot to think about. Your mind cartwheel from best prenatal vitamins to child-proof furniture to can I seriously not eat soft cheese anymore? As exciting as this time can be, it can also be stressful when you want to give your future child the best but you dont know what that is. Especially when it comes to that whole prenatal vitamins thing.

Prenatal vitamins are supplements containing vitamins and minerals that help to support pregnant people by preventing common nutritional deficiencies that can arise during pregnancy. Most pregnant people use thema 2017 survey from the March of Dimes found that 97% of U.S. women between the ages of 18 and 45 who have been pregnant or who were pregnant at the time of the survey reported taking prenatal vitamins or multivitamins during their pregnancy. This is a good thing, as vitamins play a pretty important role in pregnancy health.

Amber Samuel, M.D., a maternal fetal medicine specialist at HCA Gulf Coast Division Hospitals in Houston, tells SELF that prenatal vitamins can help promote fetal development and maternal health and decrease the risk of birth defects. But are all prenatal vitamins created equal? How do you know which is the best one for you? Read on to find out.

Ranking The Best Prenatal Vitamins Of 2021

Prenatal Gummy Vitamins with DHA + Folic Acid + Choline, Clinically ...

If youre pregnant and worried about your babys health, taking a prenatal vitamin might be something you want to think about to ensure youre getting all the vitamins and minerals your baby needs to develop properly.

Here are the best prenatal vitamins on the market, ranked. Afterwards, well look in more detail about how a prenatal vitamin can help you.


Ritual designed Essential Prenatal to be the only prenatal you need.

Rituals developed a cult-like following for its simplicity, traceability and ingredients that work best in the body. It has completely traceable and transparent ingredients you can see all of the suppliers and their sources on their website so you know exactly what youre putting in your body.

The average prenatal contains 20+ ingredients, and most of those are things women already get enough of in their diets.

Plus, not all ingredient forms are created equal: most multis use forms that dont work well in the body. Rituals team of in-house scientists identified the essential nutrients women actually need and put them in a single non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, patent-pending capsule without any synthetic fillers or colorants.

Then they created a capsule that actually absorbs the vitamins better:

The result?

Vitamins of the future.

Theyve received praise from Wired and The New York Times for their no-nonsense approach and transparency in the shady vitamin industry.

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Excess Prenatal Vitamin Toxicity

Vitamin A: According to the Institute of Medicine, the tolerable upper intake level during pregnancy for preformed Vitamin A is 3,000 mcg. Excessive vitamin A from the retinol form can cause birth defects and weaken bones. If you and a healthcare provider determine that you would like to include prenatal that contains vitamin A, we recommend choosing one with the beta-carotene form of vitamin A instead, as the only side effect of taking excessive beta-carotene is a yellowing of the skin.

Folate: The tolerable upper intake level for folate is listed as 1,000 mcg for pregnancy. One study showed that intakes over 1,000 mcg in the period immediately before and after getting pregnant resulted in poor cognitive development in 4-year-olds. It has also been shown that high levels of unmetabolized folic acid, which can result from the body’s inability to convert folic acid to the acid methyl form , could weaken the immune response and even increase the risk of neonatal jaundice, and infant asthma. It can also lead to developmental delays like autism.

Vitamin D: Intakes over 4,000 IU are considered to exceed the tolerable upper intake level, and excessive vitamin D can result in dangerously high calcium levels. However, this amount often does not take into consideration whether a person is deficient going into pregnancy. If a pregnant person is deficient, they may benefit from slightly higher therapeutic doses for the health of themself and the baby.

Choosing The Best Prenatal Vitamin For You

When deciding on a prenatal vitamin, speak with your OB-GYN, who can provide you recommendations based on your specific needs . Additionally, check for third-party testing from agencies like US Pharmacopeia, who can provide assurance of the content and quality of the ingredients in your prenatal vitamin.

Other factors to keep in mind may include:

  • The vitamins and nutrients in the prenatal
  • Whether the prenatal causes nausea or other side effects

Be sure to speak with your OB-GYN about which prenatal vitamin might be a good fit for you.

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How To Choose The Best Prenatal Vitamins

Wondering what are the best prenatal vitamins out there? Really, its a bit of a trick question. There isnt one best prenatal vitamin, says Sara Twogood, MD, an ob-gyn at the University of Southern California and founder of the postpartum care package service . As with most things related to pregnancy and parenting, what works for someone else may not be a great fit for you. Women respond to supplements differently. Some patients may have their nausea alleviated by using gummies, while another may feel more nauseous because of the smell or taste of the gummies. One patient may want to stick with a strict vegan prenatal, while another doesnt like the texture or aftertaste of that same vitamin, Twogood says. Depending on a variety of individual factors, or just good experience, your doctor may recommend one in particular.

For instance, Carley Mendes, a prenatal nutritionist, founder of the website Oh Baby Nutrition and creator of the pregnancy nutrition series In The Glow, prefers supplements made from 100 percent whole food sources. Quality makes a difference, as the body utilizes the nutrients required in pregnancy much more efficiently from natural sources, she says.

Nutrients Often Missing In Prenatal Supplements

What if I forget to take my prenatal vitamin (or take too many)?

Most prenatals contain all or most of the micronutrients neededduring pregnancy.

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

In particular, prenatal supplements are often lacking in these nutrients that are important during pregnancy (

  • omega-3 DHA and EPA

Since each pregnancy is unique, your doctor or a registered dietitian may suggest a specific prenatal supplement based on your health needs.

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Folic Acid Calcium Iodine And Iron

Folic acid

If getting pregnant is a possibility for you, you should take folic acid. It can prevent birth defects that affect the babyâs brain and spinal cord. Neural tube defects develop early in pregnancy, before many women know theyâre pregnant half of all pregnancies are unplanned. This is why doctors recommend that any woman who could get pregnant take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, starting before conception and continuing for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

If youâve had a baby with a neural tube defect you should talk with your health care provider about folic acid. Studies have shown that taking a larger dose at least one month before and during the first trimester may help if youâve had a baby with this defect. But talk to your doctor about whatâs right for you.

Foods that have folic acid include:


Iron helps your body make more blood red cells. These blood cells carry oxygen to the baby that it needs to develop.

Feeling Overwhelmed Start Here

With so much information out there, you may feel pressure to take ALL of the vitamins , or to find the perfect choice. Neither mindset is particularly helpful – which is why I am here to help answer the most common questions about prenatal vitamins and supplements, provide a few pointers, and hopefully relieve some of the pressure you may be feeling.

First, lets take a step back and focus on food. Getting essential nutrients from eating a balanced diet is the first step in helping prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Choosing nutrient-dense foods like whole grains, lean proteins, and colorful fruits and vegetables gives you the best “bang for your buck” in terms of meeting your micronutrient needs, not to mention fiber and phytonutrients that are simply unmatched by any supplement.

Takeaway: Incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your meal plan is complemented by taking a prenatal vitamin and is essential and beneficial for conception, a healthy pregnancy, and a healthy baby.

Let’s dive in and talk about 10 things to think about when considering vitamins and supplements for pregnancy!

Wondering what to eat while TTC?

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Accidentally Taking 2 Prenatal Vitamins And What To Do About It

So what about the other side to this messed-up schedule. What if pregnant women accidentally took 2 prenatal vitamins in one day. This is a possibility if you simply forgot that you had already done so. There will be over-eager or anxious parents-to-be that worry that they arent doing enough to support their babies and bodies during pregnancy. The logical option here may seem to be to take a supplement if you arent sure that you already did, with the idea that it is better to have too much of a vitamin than not enough. But, you then have the stress of finding out that you have taken two.

The good news here is that you cant actually overdose by taking two rather than one. The toxicity risk of these supplements is so low that you would have to take a lot in one go or regularly take a large amount. Occasionally taking more than one isnt going to do your baby any harm either. Some of the fat-soluble vitamins will remain in your fat cells, such as any D or K vitamins, but others that are water-soluble should pass through with no ill effect. However, you dont want to make a habit of it and you will run out faster if you do this too often.

Talk To Your Doctor About The Best Prenatal Supplements And Plans.

Choosing A Prenatal Vitamin

Equate Prenatal Multivitamins, 60 Ct

Unfortunately, no standards have been set for what should be in vitamin and mineral supplements because the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate them. That means it’s up to you and your healthcare practitioner to make sure you choose one that’s safe and appropriate for you.

At your first prenatal checkup or at a preconception visit, your practitioner will probably prescribe a daily vitamin or recommend an over-the-counter brand.

A good supplement:

  • Provides certain nutrients that you may not be able to get enough of from your diet. The exact nutrients and amounts needed will depend on your individual eating habits. At a minimum, look for these key nutrientsFolic acid/folate: at least 400 mcgIron: 27 mgCalcium: 1,000 mgVitamin D: 200 to 600 IU
  • Provides no more than the recommended amounts of other nutrients that can be harmful to your baby if you take too much like vitamin A.

Note: Make sure you don’t take any other vitamin or mineral supplements while you’re taking a prenatal supplement unless your practitioner recommends it.

Unsure what prenatal vitamins to choose? Check out these best prenatal vitamins and supplements. Consult with your provider first to make sure any supplement you take during pregnancy is appropriate for your unique needs.

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Can I Take Regular Vitamins Until I Get My Prenatal Vitamins Refilled

It is fine to take a regular, over-the-counter multivitamin for a short time until you get your prescription refilled. This would not be advisable for long periods of time because prenatal vitamins have different amounts of certain vitamins and minerals that are specially formulated for pregnancy. For example, there is more iron in a prenatal vitamin than in a regular multivitamin. And, most prescription prenatals have DHA, a fatty acid thought to be important in fetal eye and brain growth, whereas many over the counter formulations do not. You can also ask your practitioner to give you some samples to help you temporarily.

The Best Prenatal Vitamins

Choosing the top prenatal vitamin is about personal preferenceand doing a little research. Patients should read the labels to compare and bring the label to their doctors office if they have any questions, Twogood says. To help you get started, weve rounded up some of the best over-the-counter prenatal vitamins to consider. While some supplements may not meet all the nutrient recommendations, talk to your doctor about your primary needs and choose one that best addresses them.

This Nature Made prenatal vitamin covers the essentials youll need before and during pregnancy, complete with folic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, vitamin B12 and vitamin D3. Plus, softgel makes it easy to swallow and boosts absorption.

Buy it: Nature Made Prenatal Multi + DHA Softgels, $12,

Rainbow Lights prenatal vitamin takes its nutrients from food, with superfood additions like spirulina, red raspberry and ginger to aid digestion. Theres also vitamins A, C and iron for blood, bone, skin and immune health. An extra bonus: The vitamin is vegan and gluten-free, with natural ingredients.

Buy it: Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin Supplement, $15,

Pop two gummies a day for DHA, vitamins A and D, folic acid and as much Vitamin C as in 10 tangerines. Natural fruit flavors mean theyre tasty too. If youre gagging over your prenatal pill, gummies can be be a good alternativejust note that gummy vitamins tend not to have iron or calcium.

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When To Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins

The best time to start taking prenatal vitamins is before conception. Folic acid is especially important. You should begin taking a folic acid supplement at least 1 month before you try to get pregnant to prevent birth defects.

Some doctors recommend that all women who could have a baby take prenatal vitamins, even if they donât plan a pregnancy.

Prenatal Vitamins: A Common Sense Guide

Are prenatal vitamins hurting you?

If you know two things about me, know this: I love M& Ms and I am the father of 4, 3 of those being triplets. Being a dad is the best thing about my life.

Heres the triplets when they were born being held by my wife:

Heres the full goon squad now:

I know a thing or two about prenatal support.

So what does a holistic pharmacist do to help support his wifes pregnancy nutritionally? What prenatal multivitamins are best for such an intense pregnancy? The answer is, the same as everyone else, except a little bit more.

This article will help anyone who is, wants to be, or has been pregnant get to the bottom of what is real and what isnt around prenatal vitamins.

We all want whats best for our kids, even before they arrive and drain all our resources and youth and energy. Doing whats best may require more than a 1 a day but it does not have to cost as much as premium supplements do.

This is a comprehensive walkthrough of this topic, covering misconceptions around prenatal vitamins , what the key nutrients are that a pregnant woman requires, how the Vital 5 is framed especially for pregnant women, and finally, our recommendations for a prenatal vitamin regimen.

NOTE: This is meant to be a comprehensive discussion. Im not trying to confuse anyone or make it more complex, I just want to lay out all the options so YOU can make the best decision and not believe the BS out there.

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