Prenatal vitamins contain all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs during pregnancy. As you can imagine, growing a baby from scratch is no easy feat, and your body will need plenty of vitamins and minerals for this mammoth task. Many expectant mothers choose to take prenatal vitamins for a healthy pregnancy. With numerous options available, finding the best prenatal vitamins in 2023 can be overwhelming.
A good quality pregnancy vitamin contains all the key nutrients, including vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal fetal development and maternal health. Some vitamins are lacking in many modern diets; a prenatal supplement is an easy way to make sure you’re getting enough of these vital vitamins to be confident both you and your baby will enjoy optimal health.
How is a prenatal vitamin different from a normal multivitamin?
During pregnancy, your body needs more of certain vitamins and minerals. A prenatal vitamin should contain more of these vital vitamins and minerals. Folic acid is probably the most well-known ingredient of prenatal vitamins but, in fact, other nutrients such as vitamin D are just as important. Most prenatal vitamins contain a mix of all the nutrients that aid healthy development.
Choosing your prenatal vitamins
There are many prenatal vitamins on the market. How do you know which are the best? The most important thing to do is to check the vitamins and minerals included in the supplement, to see which vitamins are included and how much of each is in the dosage. If the supplements hit the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), they’re a great addition to a healthy, balanced diet.
A study published in the journal Maternal Health, Neonatology and Perinatology found that prenatal supplements varied widely in content. Surprisingly, the essential vitamin levels found in prenatal vitamins were often well below the recommended intake during pregnancy. This highlights the need to check labels before purchasing prenatal supplements.
It’s also worth reading the reviews. If you’re struggling with morning sickness, you might want to choose a prenatal vitamin that tastes nice. Some supplements taste yucky and this can be difficult if you’re struggling with nausea.
When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?
It’s vital to start taking a prenatal vitamin as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, if not before. If possible, you should start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as you start trying to conceive, to prepare your body for pregnancy. Don’t worry if you didn’t do this; simply start taking them as soon as possible.
What to look for in prenatal vitamins
Not all prenatal supplements are the same, so it’s important to read the label before spending your hard-earned money. Though they might contain the same essential nutrients, it’s worth checking the Recommended Dietary Allowance for each vitamin before parting with your cash. Not all prenatal supplements contain the RDA for vitamins and minerals.
Here are some of the important nutrients worth checking (and the RDA you should be aiming for):
Folic acid or folate (600 mcg)
This is probably the most well-known pregnancy vitamin. Folic acid, or folate, is important for neural tube development, especially during the first six weeks of pregnancy. Folate is the naturally occurring version, and folic acid is produced in a lab. Your body doesn’t store folate so it’s important to consume enough of this vital nutrient regularly.
For more information, read our article Folic Acid For Pregnancy – Facts You Must Know.
Vitamin D (600 IU)
Vitamin D deficiency is surprisingly common in developed countries and many companies now fortify foods as a way of tackling deficiencies. Vitamin D during pregnancy is important for the healthy development of your baby’s bones. It reduces the risk of maternal depression and ensures you have enough vitamin D if you choose to breastfeed.
For more information, look at Vitamin D During Pregnancy – 5 FAQs Answered.
Calcium (1200 mg)
Calcium is vital for your baby’s bones and teeth, so it’s important to make sure you get enough during pregnancy. Many prenatal vitamins include calcium but it’s also important to include healthy sources of calcium in your diet.
Take a look at Calcium & Pregnancy – Why It Is Critical To Take It.
Iodine (220 mcg)
Iodine is important for the healthy functioning of the thyroid. The mother’s thyroid hormone levels affect fetal growth and brain development, so it’s important to get enough of this essential mineral. Not all prenatal vitamins contain iodine so it’s important to select one that does.
Find out more at Iron Deficiency & Pregnancy – What You Must Know.
Iron (30 mg)
Without enough iron, you’re likely to feel tired and you could even develop anaemia. Although it’s possible to consume enough iron through diet alone, for peace of mind, some pregnant women choose to take prenatal vitamins that contain iron.
Iron supplements have long been associated with digestive problems, including constipation and tar-like stools. To counter this, many prenatal vitamins now contain low-constipation iron, which is gentler on the digestive system.
For more information, check out Iron Intake During Pregnancy 6 FAQs Answered.
Best prenatal vitamins in 2023
Prenatal Vitamins in 2023 #1. Prenatal Trimester One with Ginger
A prenatal vitamin containing morning sickness relief? Yes, please! This ingenious product provides ample vitamins and minerals and contains a burst of ginger to soothe your pregnancy nausea.
Prenatal Trimester One with Ginger doesn’t include iron, which is known to aggravate the symptoms of pregnancy nausea. This Australian-made vitamin contains 500 mcg of folate, as well as the patented Quatrefolic, ensuring everybody is able to rely on this supplement. This award-winning prenatal supplement is suitable for vegans, so you can be sure your body is getting the best nutrients the natural world has to offer.
Prenatal Vitamins in 2023 #2. Kin: The Prenatal
Kin: The Prenatal contains 12 highly bioavailable ingredients to meet your nutritional needs during pregnancy. As many as one in three people have trouble absorbing folic acid, so The Prenatal contains activated methylated folate instead, to support early neural development.
Kin’s The Prenatal contains low-constipation iron, so you don’t need to skip the iron altogether. As well as including iron for blood health, The Prenatal contains omega-3 for brain growth and choline for brain development.
Prenatal Vitamins in 2023 #3. Per Days Pregnancy Key Essentials with DHA
Per Days Pregnancy Key Essentials with DHA – a prenatal multivitamin with folate – contains a specially formulated blend of 12 essential vitamins and minerals to support you through pregnancy. This supplement contains activated folate, algae-derived DHA and plant-based vitamin D. Per Days Pregnancy Key Essentials is designed to prevent neural tube defects, support healthy fetal development and promote healthy brain development.
Per Days’ patented Nutriseal™ encapsulation technology ensures you receive the nutrients where you need them most. The slow-release technology allows for optimal absorption, so you know your body is getting the most out of your prenatal vitamin.
Prenatal Vitamins in 2023 #4. Blackmores Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Gold
Blackmores Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Gold prenatal and breastfeeding supplement contains 20 important nutrients, including folic acid, iodine and vitamin D3. The Omega-3 DHA supports brain development and nervous system development, and the low constipation iron reduces your risk of developing pregnancy anemia.
Blackmores prenatal supplement contains 500 mcg of folic acid for healthy neural tube development and 150 mcg of iodine for healthy brain development. The odourless concentrated fish oil provides plenty of DHA for healthy brain development without triggering your pregnancy nausea.
Prenatal Vitamins in 2023 #5. Herbs of Gold Pregnancy Plus 1-2-3
Herbs of Gold Pregnancy Plus 1-2-3 is designed for use during the preconception, prenatal and postpartum periods. This fabulous all-in-one supplement is formulated to assist in maintaining the health of both mother and baby during preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding. The vanilla-coated tablet won’t leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
This premium multivitamin contains 22 nutrients to help meet the nutritional demands during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Pregnancy Plus 1-2-3 contains folinic acid and methylfolate which is more widely absorbed than folic acid. This prenatal vitamin also contains an active form of vitamin B6 and an active form of vitamin B12, ensuring your body receives all the goodness in this twice-daily supplement.
Are there any side effects to prenatal vitamins?
Generally speaking, there are few side effects to prenatal vitamins. The main side effect is probably constipation from the iron but, as explained, many brands have switched over to low-constipation iron to reduce this side effect. It’s worth checking the information leaflet inside your prenatal vitamin packet to read about the potential side effects, so you know what symptoms to look out for.
Do I need to take prenatal vitamins? Why are prenatal vitamins important?
Yes, there are certain vitamins and minerals that it’s important to supplement during pregnancy. Taking a prenatal vitamin such as folic acid or folate is essential because of the serious risks of birth defects during pregnancy. However, modern pregnancy supplements feature much more than essential pregnancy nutrients.
A review published in the Drugs & Therapeutics Bulletin concluded that it would be better for women to focus on improving their overall diet and health rather than take prenatal multivitamins. The authors noted: ‘We found no evidence to recommend that all pregnant women should take prenatal multi-nutrient supplements beyond the nationally advised folic acid and vitamin D supplements, generic versions of which can be purchased relatively inexpensively’.
The review concluded that the only necessary supplements for healthy pregnant women in the developed world were folic acid and vitamin D.