17 Best Prenatal Vitamins and Health Benefits

Medically Reviewed on 2/8/2022

11 prenatal vitamins recommended by doctors

16 best prenatal vitamins for pregnancy
Here are the seventeen best prenatal vitamins to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Doctors prescribe prenatal vitamins that supply babies with important vitamins and minerals needed for growth and development. Prenatal vitamin combinations can vary depending on the nutritional focus and existing comorbidities in the mother.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women of childbearing potential be screened for their diet and vitamin supplements to ensure they are meeting their recommended daily allowances.

Moreover, it recommends the following 10 nutrients during pregnancy:

  1. Folate
  2. Iron
  3. Choline
  4. Omega-3 fatty acids
  5. Vitamin C
  6. Vitamin A
  7. Vitamin B6
  8. Vitamin B12
  9. Calcium
  10. Vitamin D

Most doctors recommend the following 11 prenatal vitamins for a healthy pregnancy:

Table. 11 recommended prenatal vitamins for a healthy pregnancy
Vitamin or mineral Recommended dose Function
Folic acid 400 mcg Reduces the risk of neural tubal defects, particularly in early pregnancy
Vitamin D 400 IU Aids in the maintenance of calcium levels in the body
Calcium 200 to 300 mcg Aids in the development of strong bones, a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles
Vitamin C 70 mg Supports in healing and repair of tissues and cells and is important for the immune system
Thiamine 3 mg Converts carbohydrates into energy that is required during pregnancy
Riboflavin 2 mg Aids in the development of the bones, nerves, and muscles
Niacin 20 mg Converts calories into energy
Vitamin B12 6 mcg B12 supplements are important for maintaining nervous system health, but when combined with folic acid during pregnancy, they can help prevent spinal and central nervous system birth defects in your baby
Vitamin E 10 mg Works as an antioxidant
Zinc 15 mg Aids in the maintenance of a healthy immune system and rapid growth of cells
Iron 17 mg Supports the increase of blood volume in the mother and healthy growth of the baby and placenta

It is easy to miss out on some critical nutrients even if you consume a well-balanced diet. Prenatal vitamins typically contain increased levels of vitamins and minerals that are required for a baby’s proper growth. However, before taking any prenatal vitamins, consult your doctor first.

17 best prenatal vitamins and their health benefits

The 17 best prenatal vitamins and their health benefits include:

  1. Folic acid (600 to 800 mcg/day):
    • One of the most important roles of folic acid during pregnancy is to prevent neural tube abnormalities (defects that affect the spinal cord and brain of the baby). Folic acid aids in the formation of the placenta.
    • Some women may require an increased folic acid dose (especially if they have a history of babies diagnosed with neural tube defects) or if they have taken certain medications such as anti-epilepsy drugs.
  2. Iodine (150 mcg/day):
    • Iodine promotes thyroid function, which is especially important during pregnancy.
    • Iodine deficiency can harm your baby's physical growth and cause mental impairment and hearing loss. It can potentially result in miscarriage, birth defects, and stillbirth.
  3. Iron (27 mg/day):
    • Iron is required by your body to transport more oxygen-rich blood to you and your developing fetus. Your requirement for iron increases during pregnancy. Anemia of pregnancy can be life-threatening in mothers, causing heart failure in some cases.
  4. Vitamin D (600 IU/day or more):
    • It aids in the proper absorption of calcium and phosphate.
    • It is especially important during pregnancy because it promotes the development of the baby's bones, teeth, kidneys, heart, and nervous system.
  5. Pyridoxine/B6:
    • It aids in the development of healthy red blood cells, but more crucially, it can help alleviate the morning sickness of pregnancy.
    • Vitamin B6 is essential for the developing brain and nervous system of the baby during pregnancy.
    • It aids in your baby's metabolization of protein and carbohydrates.
  6. Calcium:
    • Calcium is required throughout pregnancy to maintain the mother's bone and muscle health.
    • It protects your bones while also ensuring that your baby gets the calcium they need for proper skeletal development.
    • Calcium is beneficial to your baby's heart, muscles, nerves, and hormones.
  7. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (200 to 600 mg/day):
    • It is an omega-3 fatty acid that helps the baby's brain, eyes, and nervous system develop.
    • Getting that daily dose of DHA helps new mothers avoid preterm labor, increase birth weight, and improve postpartum mood.
  8. Zinc:
    • Zinc promotes insulin production, which may aid in the regulation of sugar metabolism during pregnancy.
    • Because zinc is essential for cell division, protein synthesis, and growth, an adequate supply of zinc is especially important for pregnant women.
    • Zinc and other micronutrient deficiencies are common during pregnancy due to the increased nutrient requirements of the mother and developing fetus.
  9. Vitamin C:
    • Vitamin C is essential for both the mother and child.
    • It aids in tissue repair, wound healing, and the development of the baby's bones and teeth.
    • Vitamin C aids in collagen synthesis, boosts immunity, and improves iron absorption.
  10. Vitamin E:
    • This vitamin is required for the baby's intrauterine development.
    • Vitamin E aids in the production and maintenance of red blood cells, maintenance of healthy skin and eyes, and strengthening of your natural immune system.
    • Because it can be dangerous if consumed in excess, only take this vitamin if your doctor has specifically prescribed it.
  11. Thiamin/B1:
    • Thiamin (vitamin B1) is essential during pregnancy because it supports your baby's brain development and enables you and your baby to convert carbohydrates into energy.
  12. Riboflavin/B2:
    • It contributes to the development of healthy eyes and aids in the maintenance of energy levels.
    • It is necessary during pregnancy because it promotes the development of your baby's bones, muscles, and nerves.
  13. Niacin/B3:
    • It promotes healthy digestion for the mother and aids in the development of skin and nerves.
  14. Vitamin B12:
    • Vitamin B12, along with folic acid, is required early in pregnancy to prevent neural tube abnormalities. Moreover, it is required for deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis, which is vital for uterine health.
  15. Choline:
    • It aids in the development of the brain for learning, memory, and attention and rapid division and development and myelination (insulation) of nerve cells.
  16. Selenium (60 to 70 mcg):
    • It is an antioxidant that is essential for reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, and DNA synthesis.
    • Not all prenatal vitamins are the same. In addition to the traditional pill, gel caps, chewable, liquids, and even powder are available. Your doctor may advise you to take a specific prenatal vitamin. If you choose one on your own, show it to your doctor to ensure that it contains the proper combination of important vitamins.
  17. Vitamin A (750 to 770 mcg):
    • Vitamin A is essential for your baby’s embryonic development, which includes the development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and bones, as well as circulatory, respiratory, and nervous systems.
    • Vitamin A is especially important for pregnant women because it aids in postpartum tissue repair.


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How to start prenatal vitamins

Doctors advise women to begin taking prenatal vitamins even before they become pregnant. Many critical fetal developments occur during the first month of pregnancy before you even realize you're pregnant.

Most women of childbearing age do not get enough folate, vitamin E, and vitamin D, and significant changes begin in their bodies from conception. Therefore, if you're trying to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about prenatal vitamins.

  • Prenatal vitamins should be started three months before attempted conception due to the high prevalence of unintended pregnancy and uncertainty of how quickly or slowly conception will occur.
  • This is to ensure that any potential nutritional deficiencies have been addressed and that any additional requirements have been met before conception.
  • If prenatal vitamins cannot be started three months ahead of time, folic acid supplementation should begin at least one month before attempting to conceive.
  • This is important because folic acid aids in growth and development, and the neural tube, which later develops into the baby's spinal cord, spine, brain, and skull, forms between weeks 4 and 6 of pregnancy, before most women are aware that they are expecting. This may lessen the risk of neural tube defects.
  • Taking prenatal vitamins with a meal is the best option because fats in your diet can aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K). Taking prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach can irritate your stomach and cause nausea.
  • To help eliminate any side effects, most doctors recommend taking half a pill in the morning and a half at bedtime.

According to studies, women who begin taking prenatal vitamins early in their pregnancy are less likely to have pregnancy or birth-related defects.

Most doctors recommend prenatal vitamins for the entire duration of your pregnancy. They may advise that you take prenatal vitamins even after the baby is born, especially during your breastfeeding period.

Which prenatal vitamins should I take during the first trimester?

The first trimester of pregnancy refers to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Although you may not be able to tell that you are pregnant, this is an important time for you and your baby because both your and your baby's bodies will be rapidly changing.

During the first trimester of pregnancy, most doctors recommend these prenatal vitamins:

  • Folic acid (600 to 800 mcg/day):
    • Beans
    • Citrus fruits
    • Green leafy vegetables
  • Calcium (about 1,200 mg/day):
    • Dairy (milk, yogurt, and cheese)
    • Dark leafy greens
  • Iron (27 mg/day):
    • Meat
    • Poultry
    • Seafood
    • Beans
    • Green vegetables
  • Choline:
    • Red meat
    • Eggs
  • Vitamin B12:
    • Meat
    • Poultry
    • Seafood
    • Fortified bread and cereals
  • Omega-3 fatty acids:
    • Fatty fish
    • Chia seeds
    • Flax seeds
    • Fortified foods

Apart from the above, doctors may recommend increasing protein and fat in your diet.

Protein aids in the development of your baby's tissue and the development and repair of the breast and uterine tissue, muscles, and blood during pregnancy. Sources of food may include:

  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Fat provides energy and aids in the formation of your baby's organs and placenta. Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) aid in the development of your baby's brain, nervous system, and retina. PUFA sources include

  • Oily fish such as salmon, trout, and herring
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Flaxseed
  • Vegetable oil

These increased nutrient requirements are typically met by eating a diverse diet of healthy foods and supplementing with a prenatal vitamin.

After a general checkup, your doctor may add a few other prenatal vitamins, such as vitamin D, to your diet. Prenatal vitamins should be taken throughout your pregnancy. However, they are especially important during the first trimester to help fill nutritional gaps.

The first trimester of your pregnancy is the most delicate period. You should eat foods that nourish your body and avoid drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.

What are the benefits and side effects of prenatal vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are carefully made supplements that help ensure a healthy pregnancy. They are sophisticated multivitamins that contain nutrients that are especially necessary for expecting mothers and their newborns.

3 common benefits of prenatal vitamins

  1. Prenatal vitamins are intended to help fill any nutritional gaps in your diet from the start of your pregnancy to the end of breastfeeding.
  2. Prenatal vitamins help reduce premature birth, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia (high blood pressure). They may reduce the likelihood of birth defects in the brain and spinal cord.
  3. Prenatal vitamins provide nutrition without adding calories. It can be difficult to strike a balance between getting all the nutrients you require and overeating. Prenatal vitamins are an excellent way to supplement your nutritional needs without adding extra calories.

3 common side effects of prenatal vitamins

  1. If you start taking a prenatal vitamin, consult your doctor before taking any additional supplements. Increasing your supplement intake may cause you to consume more than the recommended daily allowance of certain nutrients.
  2. Although the cause is unknown, nausea is a common side effect of prenatal vitamins. If you experience nausea after taking prenatal vitamins, consult your doctor.
  3. Because of the iron content, prenatal vitamins can sometimes cause constipation and acid reflux. Consuming soluble fiber-rich foods and drinking plenty of water can help. Consult your doctor about switching to a prenatal vitamin that contains less iron.

4 potential side effects of prenatal vitamins

  1. Headache and unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth
  2. Changes in the skin
  3. Diarrhea
  4. Low appetite

Vitamins to avoid

If you are pregnant or attempting to become pregnant, it is critical to supplement with a high-quality prenatal vitamin. These vitamins, however, are not a substitute for a healthy diet. You must continue to eat a regular balanced meal with proper proportions, follow a daily exercise regimen, and drink water as indicated by your gynecologist.

Discuss the side effects with your doctor because they may provide you with answers or propose a different vitamin regimen entirely. Because each pregnancy is unique, it must be treated as such.

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Medically Reviewed on 2/8/2022
Prenatal Vitamins: https://www.webmd.com/baby/guide/prenatal-vitamins

Vitamins and other nutrients during pregnancy: https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/vitamins-and-other-nutrients-during-pregnancy.aspx#

Nutrition during pregnancy: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/nutrition-during-pregnancy

What are prenatal vitamins? https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/pregnancy/pre-pregnancy-health/what-are-prenatal-vitamins

When Should You Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/when-to-start-taking-prenatal-vitamins/

Vitamins and supplements during pregnancy: https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/vitamins-and-supplements-during-pregnancy

Is it really necessary to take prenatal vitamins? https://www.fairview.org/Blog/Is-it-really-necessary-to-take-prenatal-vitamins

Everything You Need to Know About Prenatal Vitamins: https://www.lancastergeneralhealth.org/health-hub-home/motherhood/getting-pregnant/everything-you-need-to-know-about-prenatal-vitamins

5 Most Important Prenatal Nutrients For Pregnancy: https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/5-most-important-prenatal-nutrients/