Last month, we reported on new research that questions the purported benefits of prenatal vitamins. Our in-house nutrition expert told us about how obtaining nutrients through diet is critical. That said, there are still some important nutrients that are recommended to be taken in supplement form, and prenatal vitamins can help when there are gaps in nutrition. The following summary is from Reviews.com, an indepent research organization, and shares with us three of the best prenatal vitamins based on doctor-informed criteria. The following is not meant to serve as medical advice and should never take the place of consulting with your medical care provider.
A quick Google search of ‘prenatal vitamins’ can send you down a rabbit hole full of contradictory information. Add on the fact that because prenatals are classified as ‘supplements,’ they don’t have to be approved by the FDA, and the decision of which prenatal to choose becomes daunting and difficult. That’s why the team at Reviews.com dove deep into the world of prenatal vitamins to find which ones delivered the right essential nutrients to keep both you and your baby healthy.
How We Found the Best Prenatal Vitamins
After consulting with a panel of doctors, the Reviews.com team determined which nutrients were necessary in a prenatal vitamin. Our top picks included the following:
- Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene): to help the baby’s organs and bones develop, and to aid in the repair of the mother’s tissue post delivery
- Folic acid: to prevent neural tube defects in the developing fetus
- Iron: to boost production of maternal blood volume
- Calcium: for bone health in both baby and mother
- Iodine: to aid in the brain development of the fetus
- Vitamin D: to aid in fetal development and help prevent preeclampsia
- Vitamins B12 and B6: for a healthy fetal nervous system
We also cut any prenatal that didn’t contain the recommended dosage of folate or folic acid, vitamin D, or retinol forms of vitamin A (which can put a fetus at higher risk for birth defects). Finally, we eliminated any formulas that contained unnecessary chemicals, artificial coloring, sweeteners, or other junk ingredients.
Reviews.com’s Picks for the Best Prenatal Vitamins
Best Overall — Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin
Deva’s all-vegan tablets provide every key nutrients that doctors and experts recommend for pregnant women in one easy-to-swallow pill a day. Another plus, the vitamin is only 11 cents a serving, considerably less expensive than several other options on the market!
Best No-Frills Formula — Pure Encapsulations
With a hypoallergenic, non-GMO manufacturing process, Pure Encapsulations is able to safely provide all the most important nutrients that developing fetuses and pregnant women need - with nothing else added. Simplicity does come at a price however, because Pure Encapsulation costs about 70 cents a serving.
Best DHA-Enhanced Option — Actif Organic
If your doctor recommends a prenatal with added DHA and omega-3 fatty acids, Actif Organic is a great choice because ingredients are food-derived, making them more easily absorbable.
Food for Thought
- The panel of doctors the team at Reviews spoke with unanimously agreed, you should take a prenatal vitamin regularly before and during pregnancy to reduce the risk of birth defects and improve your (and the baby’s!) health.
- Because prenatals aren’t vetted by the FDA, only start taking a vitamin that has been vetted and approved by an independent regulator such as LabDoor, NSF International, or the U.S. Pharmaceutical Convention.
- If you’re feeling nauseous, queasy, or constipated, remember: you’re not alone. This isn’t cause for concern, just a conversation with your doctor — it could be a fix as simple as a diet adjustment, or changing your prenatal vitamin regimen.
The Bottom Line
While prenatals alone can’t guarantee a healthy pregnancy, they can help fill any nutritional gaps in your diet. Keep in mind, what works for one person might not be the best choice for another. Look for a prenatal that has essential nutrients like folic acid, iron, and vitamin D and don’t underestimate the importance of eating a balanced diet! Finally, always consult with your doctor before you start taking any prenatal vitamin.
Reviews.com is an independent organization comprised of a small, in-house research team that works on creating the site's content. When they started out, their goal was fairly simple: evaluate products and industries without the bias of sponsorship. Their reviews and top picks are never based on affiliate partnerships, rather they reach out to companies and build relationships only after they conduct the research. For each review, they start out by evaluating the existing literature available from scientific publications, conduct surveys with a proper sample size (if applicable), and consult with a panel of experts in the field -- for prenatal vitamins, for example, they spoke at length with three doctors to help set the proper parameters for their research criteria. The Reviews.com team also often tests the products themselves to provide a more humanistic approach to the fact-based data. Ultimately, they want to provide honest and helpful information to better equip readers to navigate an industry or product and make the right choice.