Pregnancy My Pregnant Body Pregnancy Nutrition The 10 Best Prenatal Vitamins, According to a Dietitian These dietitian-approved supplements can help support a healthy pregnancy By Anne Cook Carroll, MS, RD Updated on June 9, 2023 Medically reviewed by Carly Snyder, MD Share Tweet Pin Email We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Photo: Parents / Kristin Kempa Prenatal vitamins are recommended for all pregnant people and those trying to conceive, as they can help meet the increased nutritional requirements during pregnancy. It’s still important to try to eat a balanced and varied diet, but this can be challenging when you are nauseous or have food aversions during pregnancy. Nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy can be harmful for both mom and growing baby, so taking a good prenatal vitamin can help fill the gaps in the diet and provide peace of mind that you are getting enough essential nutrients. Prenatal vitamins can vary in their ingredients, but key nutrients they typically include are vitamins A, D, iodine, iron, choline, omega-3 DHA, and B vitamins including folic acid or folate. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend 400 micrograms of supplemental folic acid daily for pregnant people, as well as those of reproductive age that may become pregnant. It is important to note that this is an addition to eating folate-rich foods, to meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 600 micrograms per day during pregnancy. Folic acid is a particularly important vitamin to prevent neural birth defects in a developing baby. You want to make sure a prenatal vitamin is tested for purity and potency, so you can feel confident it has the nutrients listed on the bottle and no harmful contaminants. When selecting our top list of prenatal vitamins, we prioritized products that are third-party tested or from reputable brands with strong internal testing. We chose products that contain adequate amounts of key nutrients (without exceeding Upper Tolerable Limits) and in evidence-based nutritional recommendations for those trying to conceive and are pregnant. Additionally, we considered the price and overall quality of ingredients. A Note About Supplements Dietary supplements are minimally regulated by the FDA and may or may not be suitable for you. They also may interact with other supplements or medications your child is taking. Please always speak with a healthcare provider first to discuss any supplements you plan on giving a child. Our Top Picks Best Overall: Theralogix TheraNatal Complete Best Budget-Friendly: Nature Made Prenatal + DHA Best Vegan with DHA: Natalist Prenatal Daily Packets Best Powdered: Needed Vanilla Multivitamin Powder Best Trimester-Specific: Perelel Prenatal Packs Best Transparency: Ritual Prenatal Vitamin Best Higher Dose: FullWell Women’s Prenatal Vitamin Best Customizable: Care/of Prenatal Best High in Iron: Thorne Basic Prenatal Best Gummy: SmartyPants Prenatal Formula Best Overall: Theralogix TheraNatal Complete Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: This prenatal tops our list because it is a complete multivitamin with good amounts of key nutrients for pregnancy and has strong third-party testing. But Take Note: The DHA and EPA softgel capsules are made out of bovine (cow) gelatin, and the omega-3 softgel contains fish oil. So, they are not suitable for vegans and vegetarians. This supplement also has a three softgel per day serving size. Theralogix TheraNatal Complete Prenatal Vitamins tops our list because it has essential vitamins and minerals at adequate supplemental dosages for pregnancy needs. We love that it is NSF Contents Certified, meaning it is tested for ingredient accuracy and purity. This comprehensive prenatal contains two tablets and one omega-3 fish oil softgel. One tablet is a baseline multivitamin, including vitamins A, C,D, E, K, B-vitamins (including the methylated and active form of folate), as well as iron, calcium, choline, magnesium and other key minerals. The second tablet contains an extra boost of vitamin D and choline—two key nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy that many pregnant people have a hard time getting enough of. The extra tablet also contains extra vitamin B6 which can help with nausea. The third pill is an omega-3 softgel containing 300 milligrams of DHA and 150 milligrams of EPA (two types of omega 3 fatty acids). These amounts meet the recommended daily recommendation of omega 3 for pregnancy. The fish oil concentrate comes from Alaska pollock and is certified by the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) program as being free from mercury, PCBs, and other contaminants. Note that the softgel is not vegan or vegetarian friendly. All three pills are gluten-free and free of artificial colorings and flavorings. Price at time of publication: $90 for a 13-week supply ($1.00 per serving) The Details: Key Nutrients: vitamins A, C,D, E, K, B-vitamins (including the methylated form of folate), iron, calcium, choline, magnesium, omega-3 DHADose: 2 tablets and 1 softgelThird-Party Tested: YesVegetarian-Friendly: No, contains gelatin (from cow bovine) and fish oil Best Budget-Friendly: Nature Made Prenatal + DHA Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Buy on Naturemade.com Why We Like It: This prenatal is third-party tested and has all of the essential nutrients for a prenatal including DHA. It’s also just a single pill dosage and comes at an affordable price. But Take Note: Some nutrients are lower in dosage including vitamins A, C, D, and it also does not contain choline. The softgels contain gelatin, so they are not suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Nature Made Prenatal Multivitamin with DHA is a single pill option that covers the key prenatal nutritional needs at a budget-friendly price. This supplement is USP Verified, so you can trust that it contains only the ingredients listed on the bottle. It’s also gluten-free and does not contain any artificial flavors. We like that this prenatal contains 200 milligrams of DHA which is important for the development of the baby’s central nervous system, brain and eyes. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends pregnant people eat 8 to 12 ounces of fish per week for adequate omega 3’s during pregnancy. For those that don’t eat fish, or have aversions to fish during pregnancy, omega-3 supplementation in a prenatal is particularly important. The supplemental DHA recommendation is between 200-300 milligrams per day. This prenatal vitamin contains lower dosages of some vitamins and minerals compared to other supplements on our list, but it can still help to fill any nutrition gaps especially if you’re able to eat mostly a balanced diet throughout your pregnancy. However, it does not include choline which is important for baby’s brain development. So, if you do not eat foods rich in choline like eggs, beef, chicken, and soybeans, you may want to add an additional choline supplement to meet the recommended 450 milligrams per day for pregnant people. Nature Made Prenatal Multivitamin contains 800 micrograms of folic acid, which is the recommended form of folate supplementation by the CDC. However, this synthetic form is considered an inactive form and must be converted to the active form to be absorbed and used by the body. Some individuals may prefer the readily absorbable methylated forms of folate, particularly those with the MTHFR gene variants that inhibits the conversion process of folic acid. Price at time of publication: $43 for a 2-pack ($0.14 per serving) The Details: Key Nutrients: vitamins A, C,D, E, K, B-vitamins (including folic acid), iron, calcium, choline, magnesium, omega-3 DHADose: 1 softgelThird-Party Tested: YesVegetarian-Friendly: No, contains gelatin Best Vegan with DHA: Natalist Prenatal Daily Packets Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Natalist.com Why We Like It: This is a comprehensive multivitamin with omega-3 DHA that is suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and is free from common food allergens. We also like that it is formulated by an obstetrician gynecologist doctor (OBGYN), contains choline, and the methylated form of folate. But Take Note: Natalist is more expensive than other picks and is a 5 capsule daily dosage. If you are looking for a comprehensive prenatal with DHA that is suitable for a vegan or vegetarian diet, we recommend Natalist Prenatal Daily Packets. Natalist is a subscription-based company focused on supplements for the specific needs of women’s stages of fertility, pregnancy and postpartum. We love that their vitamin forms and dosages are researched-backed and formulated by a team of OBGYNs. They have strong in-house testing on their ingredients but no third-party testing. We like that they include the active, methylated forms of B-vitamins (including folate), and 157 milligrams of choline (27% Daily Vntake), which is more than other prenatal supplements. It also contains 450 milligrams of DHA from marine algae—a potent, vegan source of omega-3s. The capsules are delayed-release for easy digestion and are coated in lemon oil giving them a pleasant aftertaste. In addition to being vegan-friendly, this prenatal is free from common allergens including milk, eggs, fish, tree nuts, soybeans, peanuts, and gluten. They are also free of artificial colorings, preservatives and flavorings. One thing to also note is the recommended daily serving is 5 capsules which could feel a bit much for some. This product is more expensive than other supplements on our list, but the price per serving does drop if you opt into their subscription service. Price at time of publication: $54 for 30 servings ($1.80 per serving) The Details: Key Nutrients: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B-vitamins (including the methylated form of folate), iron, calcium, choline, magnesium, omega-3 DHADose: 5 capsulesThird-Party Tested: NoVegetarian-Friendly: Yes The Best Maternity Leggings We Tested for Workouts, Lounging, and More Best Powdered Form: Needed. Vanilla Multivitamin Powder Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Thisisneeded.com Why We Like It: This multivitamin comes in a tasty, vanilla powder that can be mixed into a variety of food and beverages. It is also third-party tested for purity and potency and contains key nutrients including about 75% of daily choline needs. But Take Note: This product does not contain iron or omega-3 DHA. It is also more expensive per serving than most of the other supplements on our list. Swallowing pills during pregnancy can be difficult, particularly if you are nauseous. Additionally, some prenatals require multiple pills and can have a fishy aftertaste if they contain omega-3 fish oil. If you want to avoid these side effects of a prenatal, we love Needed’s tasty, vanilla-flavored powder that can easily be added to beverages like your milk of choice, or added to smoothies, yogurt or oatmeal. It contains natural vanilla flavoring, and is sweetened with monk fruit extract with no added sugar. It contains most of the key nutrients we look for in a prenatal, including a higher dose of choline (about 75% of your daily needs), which is higher than most other prenatal vitamins. It also contains the methylated forms of B vitamins. It does not contain iron, so depending on your diet and iron status, you may need an extra iron supplement during pregnancy. Iron needs drop from 27 milligrams per day for pregnancy to 18 milligrams for non-pregnant females and 9 milligrams for those that are breastfeeding. Therefore, this prenatal could be a great postpartum supplement as well. Note this powder does not contain omega-3 DHA, which you may want to take separately particularly if your diet is low in fish. We like that this powder supplement is third-party tested for purity and potency including nutritional content, pesticides and herbicides, heavy metals, allergens, microbes and other contaminants. This product is more expensive than other supplements on our list, but the price per serving does drop if you opt into their subscription service. Price at time of publication: $70 for a 1-month supply ($2.30 per serving) The Details: Key Nutrients: vitamins A, C,D, E, K, B vitamins (including the methylated form of folate), calcium, choline, magnesiumDose: 2 scoops of powderThird-Party Tested: YesVegetarian-Friendly: Yes Best Trimester Specific: Perelel Prenatal Packs Perelel Buy on Perelelhealth.com Why We Like It: Perelel targets the specific needs of women in each trimester of pregnancy including the trying to conceive stage and postpartum. We like that their products are developed by a team of OBGYNs, dietitians, and are third-party tested for purity and potency. But Take Note: The daily dosage is five larger capsules which may not be a good option for those experiencing nausea or that have difficulty taking pills. Developed by a team of OBGYNs (including fertility specialists), and Registered Dietitians, these Perelel’s supplements are researched-backed and contain the most bioavailable forms of key nutrients for women in all stages of pregnancy, including before and after. Their products are all third-party testing for purity and potency, including microbes, allergens, heavy metals and other contaminants. Nutritional needs shift throughout the fertility stages including conception, pregnancy, postnatal, and breastfeeding. We like that Perelel targets these specific needs in their trimester specific prenatal vitamin packs. The first, second and third trimester packets all contain a core, comprehensive prenatal multivitamin with the essential vitamins and minerals, including the methylated forms of B-vitamins. They also include an omega-3 DHA and EPA fish oil capsule, in the preferred triglyceride form, sourced from wild caught anchovies and sardines (smaller fish with less mercury exposure). Additional capsules are added to each trimester packet to target the different stages of pregnancy. For example, the first trimester packet has a B6 and ginger root anti-nausea pill as well as extra folate to support early neural tube development. One thing we wanted to note is some of their postnatal products contain adaptogenic and herbal blends like ashwagandha, rhodiola, and reishi. While there may be benefits to these ingredients, there is limited research on the efficacy for their use, and they may interact with certain medications. So, these postpartum products may not be suitable for all. We do not recommend adaptogens while pregnant (their prenatals do not contain any), but if you wish to experiment with them post pregnancy, we recommend discussing it with a healthcare professional first, particularly if you are breastfeeding. Like other picks, Perelel offers the convenience of a subscription with automatic renewal and lower price point. Price at time of publication: $58 for 30 servings one time purchase ($1.93 per serving) The Details: Key Nutrients: vitamins A, C,D, E, K, B-vitamins (including the methylated form of folate), iron, choline, magnesium, omega-3 DHADose: 5 capsulesThird-Party Tested: YesVegetarian-Friendly: No, contains fish oil and gelatin capsule The Best Pregnancy Books to Answer All Your Burning Questions Best Transparency: Ritual Essential for Women Prenatal Vitamin Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Ritual.com Why We Like It: In our opinion, Ritual has the best transparent ingredient sourcing—they clearly show where each ingredient comes from. It’s also third-party tested for purity and potency, and vegan friendly. But Take Note: This prenatal is best suited to those with a relatively balanced and diverse diet. They intentionally do not add ingredients that are commonly found in food. We love the quality ingredients, transparent ingredient sourcing, and targeted nutrient approach of Ritual’s prenatal vitamin. Ritual’s Prenatal contains twelve vitamins and minerals essential to women’s health and pregnancy and leaves out nutrients that are abundant in food sources that are unlikely to be deficient in. They do this on purpose to reduce the risk of over supplementation and keep their serving size to two capsules per day. It also allows you to add individual supplements as needed based on your specific diet and nutritional status. This prenatal covers all of the key nutrients important to support a healthy pregnancy including vitamin D3, E, K, methylated folate, B12, biotin, choline, iron, iodine, magnesium and omega-3 DHA. You’ll notice it does not include vitamin A, C, certain B-vitamins, calcium, and some trace minerals like zinc. Because it is not a complete multivitamin, it is best for those that eat a relatively balanced and diverse diet. We like that this prenatal contains 350 milligrams of DHA from microalgae making it suitable for vegans and vegetarians. You can choose from either a lemon or mint essence capsule, both of which are delayed release and stomach acid resistant for optimal absorption. Ritual’s supplements are all third-party tested for purity and potency including heavy metal testing and other potential contaminants. They offer both single purchase as well as a monthly subscription service. Price at time of publication: $39 for a 1-month supply ($1.30 per serving) The Details: Key Nutrients: vitamins D, E, K, B-vitamins (including the methylated form of folate), iron, choline, magnesium, omega-3 DHADose: 2 softgelsThird-Party Tested: YesVegetarian-Friendly: Yes Best Higher Dose: Fullwell Prenatal Multivitamin Fullwell Buy on Fullwellfertility.com Why We Like It: This is the most comprehensive prenatal multivitamin on our list delivering high quality and higher quantity dosages of vitamins and minerals supported by research and experts. But Take Note: The serving size is 8 pills per day, which can be an overwhelming amount of supplements to take daily when you’re pregnant. It also does not contain iron or omega-3s which they recommend taking separately as needed. Fullwell Prenatal Multivitamin is a comprehensive multivitamin containing higher doses of key nutrients, supported by current research and developed by a Registered Dietitian. This is a good option for those with a more limited diet that need an extra supplemental boost during pregnancy. We like that all of Fullwell’s supplements are third-party tested, and they do provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA) upon request. This prenatal includes vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and methylated B vitamins as well as several minerals including iodine, magnesium, and zinc. While this supplement contains higher doses of nutrients, they are all still below the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). The exception is vitamin D, which is at the UL of 4,000 IU. This dose of vitamin D can help correct a deficiency and potentially decrease the risk of pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. It also contains over 50% Daily Value of choline which many prenatal vitamins can be low in. Fullwell Prenatal also contains inositol—an ingredient that may improve blood sugar regulation by increasing insulin sensitivity. While research is limited, inositol is generally recognized as safe, and it is starting to be used as a therapeutic approach to blood sugar management during pregnancy, particularly for those with prediabetes, gestational diabetes, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Because this supplement contains high doses of certain vitamins and minerals, we recommend working with a healthcare professional to assess if this supplement is right for you based on your dietary intake and individual needs. Other considerations for this supplement are that each serving is eight pills, which can be overwhelming to take daily. It also does not include iron or omega-3, which may need to be taken separately as needed. Fullwell offers a subscription service for ease of re-ordering and a lower price point. Price at time of publication: $50 for a 30-day supply ($1.67 per serving) The Details: Key Nutrients: vitamins A, C,D, E, K, B-vitamins (including the methylated form of folate), calcium, choline, magnesiumDose: 8 capsulesThird-Party Tested: YesVegetarian-Friendly: Yes The Best Maternity Pajamas for Comfort in Pregnancy and Postpartum Best Customizable: Care/of Prenatal Care/of Buy on Takecareof.com Why We Like It: Care/of offers customizable daily vitamin packets, so you can start with their base prenatal and add additional nutrients specific for your needs. Their supplements are also internally and third-party tested for purity and potency. But Take Note: The prenatal alone contains lower dosages for most vitamins and minerals compared to other supplements on our list and does not contain omega-3 DHA. The prenatal alone is three tablets, so the amount of pills you take daily could add up depending on what you add to your daily packet. Care/of is a subscription-only supplement brand that allows you to customize your vitamins and minerals in individual daily packets conveniently delivered to you each month. We like that they do both internal and third-party testing, and it allows you to modify your daily packet based on your specific needs. The three tablet prenatal multivitamin contains 22 essential vitamins and minerals in their more active and bioavailable forms including methylated folate. The dosages are relatively lower than other supplements, by design, so that you can add additional, individual supplements as needed based on your diet and vitamin and mineral status. For example, the prenatal base only provides 20% Daily Value (DV) for choline and 67% DV for iron. If you are not getting the remaining amount from your diet, you can add their individual iron or choline supplements. It also does not contain omega-3 DHA, but you can add it separately to your daily packet. Price at time of publication: Starting at $19 for a 30-day supply of the prenatal only ($0.63 per serving) The Details: Key Nutrients: vitamins A, C,D, E, K, B-vitamins (including the methylated form of folate), iron, calcium, choline, and magnesiumDose: 3 tabletsThird-Party Tested: YesVegetarian-Friendly: Yes Best High in Iron: Thorne Basic Prenatal Amazon Buy on Amazon Why We Like It: It is higher in iron (and other minerals) than other prenatals which can be helpful for those low in iron and don’t want to take an additional iron supplement. It has forms of vitamins and minerals that are well absorbed and gentle on the stomach. But Take Note: While high in most minerals, note it is lower in calcium. The iron amount is right at the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), so if you eat a varied diet or take other supplements with iron, it could be too high in iron for your needs. Thorne is a well trusted and reputable supplement brand known for their quality products and clinically researched ingredients. They do four rounds of in-house testing on supplements to ensure ingredient purity and accuracy. Thorne Basic Prenatal has folate in the methylated form, choline, and 18 other nutrients. One thing that stands out with this prenatal is it is particularly high in iron with 45 mg (167% Daily Value) per three capsule serving. Iron needs go up during pregnancy because the mother’s blood supply increases. Because of this increased need, pregnant people are at an increased risk for iron deficiency. Taking a prenatal that is higher in iron may be recommended especially for those who don’t eat iron-rich foods. This prenatal is a good choice for anyone at risk for iron deficiency during pregnancy or has had iron deficiency anemia diagnosed from a healthcare professional. On the other hand, this iron amount is right at the UL for iron. It may be higher than needed for pregnant people getting enough iron in their diet. A healthcare professional can help determine your specific iron needs. Along with being higher in iron, we like that the form of iron used is chelated meaning it is well absorbed and less likely to cause stomach issues—an extra important consideration during pregnancy. Thorne also uses the chelated form of minerals zinc, copper, magnesium, and chromium for optimal absorption. It is also a good source of vitamins A, C, D, E, K, B vitamins, and provides 20% Daily Value of choline. While higher in the listed minerals than some other prenatals, note a serving only contains 14% Daily Value for calcium. It is free of artificial flavors, colors, additives, gluten, soy and dairy. Price at time of publication: $30 for 30 servings ($1.00 per serving) The Details: Key Nutrients: vitamins A, C,D, E, K, B-vitamins (including the methylated form of folate), iron, choline, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, and manganeseDose: 3 tabletsThird-Party Tested: No but strong in-house testingVegetarian-Friendly: Yes The Best Maternity Support Belts and Bands for Growing Bellies Best Gummy: SmartyPants Prenatal Formula Amazon Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Why We Like It: This prenatal is a tasty way to get your vitamins and minerals, and it may be a particularly good option if you feel nauseous or if you have trouble swallowing pills. It’s also third party tested for purity and potency. But Take Note: It does not contain calcium, iron, or magnesium, so additional supplements may be needed depending on your diet. It also contains six grams of added sugar, gelatin, and fish oil, so it is not suitable for vegans and vegetarians. If you prefer a gummy supplement, try SmartyPants Prenatal Formula gummies, an NSF Certified product with key nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy. It contains all of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), as well as B vitamins including 600 micrograms of L-methylfolate, and a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids and choline. It does not contain magnesium, calcium, or iron, so depending on your diet, you may need additional supplements. We like that these vitamins are enjoyable to take, and may be a particularly good option for those suffering from morning sickness or those that have difficulty swallowing pills. The gummies are sweetened with organic cane sugar, contain natural flavors, are colored with organic black carrot juices concentrate and turmeric, and are free of top food allergens. We also like that the omega-3 fish oil content is from sustainably sourced wild-caught small fish (but you won’t taste it thanks to the slight sweetness and fruity flavor of the gummy). Each serving does contain 6 grams of added sugar per serving. While that is a relatively small amount in the context of the USDA Dietary Guidelines’ recommendation of 25 grams of added sugar per day or less for women, it may be of importance for those with diabetes or gestational diabetes that are more susceptible to blood sugar spikes. Price at time of publication: $23 for a 30-day supply ($0.77 per serving) The Details: Key Nutrients: vitamins A, C,D, E, K, B-vitamins (including the methylated form of folate), choline,, omega-3 DHADose: 4 gummiesThird-Party Tested: YesVegetarian-Friendly: No, contains gelatin and fish oil Are Prenatal Vitamins Beneficial? Your nutrition needs go up during pregnancy, and it can be hard to get the added amounts from diet alone. Prenatal vitamins help to fill nutritional gaps in the diet, so you can meet the recommended intakes of certain key nutrients that are essential to support a healthy pregnancy. The CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that pregnant people and those trying to conceive take a daily prenatal vitamin, specifically with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid to prevent neural tube defects during early fetal development. Additionally, some physicians recommend continuing a prenatal vitamin post-pregnancy, especially if breastfeeding, to meet increased nutritional needs during lactation. It is important to note that some nutritional needs differ from pregnancy to postpartum. For example, iron needs increase to 27 milligrams per day during pregnancy, but drop to 18 milligrams for non-pregnant people and 9 milligrams for those that are breastfeeding. So, if you are choosing a prenatal for postpartum, consider one with lower iron. In general, it is important to focus on getting your nutrients from food first by eating a balanced diet incorporating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, healthy fats and protein. Foods come with the added benefits of macronutrients, as well as fiber and antioxidants. However, prenatal vitamins are beneficial to help supplement the diet to ensure adequate nutrition to support a healthy pregnancy. Who May Not Benefit from a Prenatal? When choosing a multivitamin, it is important to target your needs which can vary based on age, gender, health status, lifestages, dietary intake, and other individualized factors. If you are not pregnant and do not plan to become pregnant, you may not benefit from a prenatal vitamin. If you are postpartum, you may benefit from a prenatal, particularly if you are breastfeeding, but the nutrition needs do differ slightly from pregnancy, especially iron needs. Therefore, prenatal vitamins may not be universally beneficial for postpartum women, especially if the prenatal is high in iron. Prenatals target the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDAs) for pregnancy specifically, which differ from the needs of males, post-menopausal women, non-pregnant menstruating women, and younger adults and children. The RDAs for pregnant women are higher in certain nutrients including iron, choline, folate and iodine, compared to non-pregnant people. If you are taking a prenatal vitamin and are not pregnant or trying to conceive, it may be safe but not most suited for your individual needs. How We Select Supplements Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements. We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. We prioritize products that are third-party tested and certified by one of three independent, third party certifiers: USP, NSF, or ConsumerLab.com. It's important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend. To select the best prenatal vitamins, we spoke with Rachel Kelley, MS, RD, LD, a Registered Dietitian at Culina Health specializing in prenatal, postpartum and fertility nutrition. She gave insight for into the best forms of prenatals and what to look for in a prenatal. What To Look For Third-party Testing Supplements that are third-party tested are sent to a lab where they are tested to ensure they contain what they say they contain and are not contaminated with specific high-risk, common contaminants. However, it’s important to note: Third party testing does not test to see if a product is effective or safe for everyone, and it does not ensure the supplement will not interact with other supplements or medications. Not all third-party testing is created equal. It is not uncommon for supplement companies to pay labs for certificates after conducting minimal to no testing. The third party certifications we can trust are: ConsumerLab.com, NSF, and USP. However, these certifications are difficult to obtain and/or expensive for manufacturers, so many companies choose not to get their products tested by one of these three organizations. Sometimes products tested by these three companies are more expensive to try to offset the cost they pay for certification. Just because a supplement is not tested by one of these three companies, it does not mean it’s a bad product. We recommend doing some research on the reputability of the manufacturer, and calling up the manufacturer and their testing lab to determine their protocols and decide if you feel comfortable consuming the supplement. Form Prenatal vitamins typically come in capsule or tablet form, but are also available in powdered and gummy form. Dosages are also variable with some serving sizes of one capsule to others with eight capsules per serving. When choosing a prenatal, Rachel Kelley, MS, RD, LD, who specializes in prenatal, postpartum and fertility nutrition, says, “Consider your unique diet and preferences when looking for a prenatal. If you eat animal products and dairy regularly, perhaps you don’t need quite as much iron or calcium in your prenatal. If you are suffering with first trimester nausea, you may need a gummy or powdered prenatal instead of one that requires eight pills per day.” They also contain different vitamin and mineral forms, some of which are more readily absorbed than others. Kelley advises, “Seek out prenatals that contain methylated versions of B vitamins. This is particularly important for folate as some women have genetic variations that inhibit their ability to convert folic acid into its active form. Instead of folic acid, look for prenatals with folate (often labeled as methyltetrahydrofolate).” Ingredients and Potential Interactions It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included, relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking. Prenatal Vitamin Dosage There is no standard formula for prenatal vitamins, so the nutrients and dosages they contain vary. In general, they typically include some combination of the key nutrients listed below to support a healthy pregnancy, targeting the specific RDAs for pregnant women. Here are the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDAs) for key nutrients during pregnancy: (for pregnant women ages 19 to 50) Vitamin A: 770 micrograms RAEVitamin D: 600 IU Folic Acid: 600 micrograms VItamin B6: 1.9 milligrams Vitamin B12: 2.6 micrograms Iron: 27 milligramsCalcium: 1,000 milligramsCholine: 450 milligramsOmega-3 DHA: While there is no set RDA for DHA, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that pregnant people consume 8-12 ounces of low-mercury fish per week. If you do not eat fish, supplementation of at least 200 milligrams of DHA per day may be recommended. It’s important to note that these recommendations can also be met from food, so your individual supplemental needs may vary depending on your diet. Folic acid supplementation is the only exception, as that is recommended for all pregnant women, regardless of your diet. How Much is Too Much? You will often see multivitamins, including prenatals, with over 100% Daily Value for certain nutrients. This is because of the varying bioavailability—your body's ability to absorb and utilize vitamins and minerals—from supplements. Certain nutrients are less bioavailable from supplements compared to food, so supplement companies add more to ensure adequate amounts are actually being absorbed. For example, vitamin B12 has an absorption rate of 50% with supplemental doses of 1-2 micrograms, and absorption declines as the dosage increases. Additionally, some supplement companies base their dosages on research outside of the RDAs that may support higher dosages for certain nutrients for more optimal health outcomes. Also, dosages higher than the RDAs may be needed to correct suboptimal levels and diagnosed deficiencies. For example, higher doses of vitamin D (at or above the 4,000 IU Upper Limit), may help to reverse deficiency and avoid pregnancy complications including preeclampsia and gestational diabetes. You generally want to avoid exceeding the established Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for any nutrients, as outlined by the NIH, unless a health care provider recommends otherwise. You want to be particularly careful of over supplementing fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), which can be stored in your body. Your body can filter out excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins B and C. Certain minerals, including iron and calcium, can also have significant, negative side effects when consumed in excess above the UL. Your Questions, Answered What trimester is most important for prenatals? It is important to meet the nutritional recommendations during all stages of pregnancy, however, the first trimester is particularly important. During the first trimester, the fetus is developing its structure, the central nervous system (CNS), including the brain and spinal cord, and organ development including the heart, lungs, lover and kidneys. Folate is particularly important in preventing neural tube defects during this time, which is why the CDC recommends starting a prenatal with folic acid before you even become pregnant. Are gummy prenatal vitamins as good as pills? Gummy prenatal vitamins can be an effective option, especially if you have difficulty swallowing pills. But keep in mind there are certain vitamins and minerals that are harder to incorporate into gummies due to the chemical stability of the gummy product. For example, iron is not typically incorporated into gummy vitamins, which is one of the cons of the SmartyPants Prenatal gummy we recommend. However, you can always take a separate iron supplement with a dosage targeted to your individual needs. Some studies show that gummy vitamins can have more variability in their potency because of manufacturing challenges and shelf-life stability. This means that the vitamin and mineral content can degrade more quickly, which is why some companies will add more of certain vitamins and minerals to compensate. For this reason, we recommend gummy vitamins that are third-party tested for purity and potency, preferably with USP, NSF or ConsumerLab.com verification. Another consideration with gummy vitamins is their potential added sugar content. While most include small amounts, it may be something to consider if you have diabetes or gestational diabetes and are more susceptible to blood sugar spikes. Can you take prenatal vitamins when not pregnant? Yes, in fact the CDC recommends supplementing with a prenatal, particularly folate, for all females of reproductive age. However, prenatal vitamins are likely not beneficial unless you are pregnant or trying to conceive, as prenatals target the unique nutritional needs to support a healthy pregnancy. Some physicians may recommend continuing a prenatal after pregnancy to help support increased needs during the postpartum period, particularly if breastfeeding. It is important to note that postpartum needs differ slightly from that of pregnancy (especially iron needs), so you may want to adjust your prenatal accordingly. What is the most effective prenatal vitamin? The most effective prenatal vitamin is one that fills your dietary gaps appropriately, and one that you tolerate and can take consistently. Above all, always make sure that your prenatal contains adequate amounts of folate or folic acid. The Best Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Products That Dermatologists Stand By Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Parents uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Nutrition During Pregnancy: Frequently Asked Questions. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Folic acid. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B6. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Update on seafood consumption during pregnancy. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Choline. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MTHFR Gene and Folic Acid. National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Iron. Wei S-Q, Qi H-P, Luo Z-C, Fraser WD. Maternal vitamin D status and adverse pregnancy outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine. 2013;26(9):889-899. doi:10.3109/14767058.2013.765849 Hollis BW, Johnson D, Hulsey TC, Ebeling M, Wagner CL. Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy: double-blind, randomized clinical trial of safety and effectiveness [published correction appears in J Bone Miner Res. 2011 Dec; 26(12):3001]. J Bone Miner Res. 2011;26(10):2341-2357. doi:10.1002/jbmr.463 Formoso G, Baldassarre MPA, Ginestra F, Carlucci MA, Bucci I, Consoli A. Inositol and antioxidant supplementation: Safety and efficacy in pregnancy. Diabetes/Metabolism Research and Reviews. 2019;35(5). doi:10.1002/dmrr.3154 U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020. Coletta JM, Bell SJ, Roman AS. Omega-3 Fatty acids and pregnancy. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010;3(4):163-171. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Update on Seafood Consumption During Pregnancy. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Hambidge KM. Micronutrient bioavailability: Dietary Reference Intakes and a future perspective. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(5):1430S-1432S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2010.28674B National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin B12. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. How Your Fetus Grows During Pregnancy. Are gummy vitamins better or worse than pills? ConsumerLab.com.