The 12 Best Prenatal Vitamins of 2023

Registered Dietitian approved supplements to support a healthy pregnancy

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Prenatal Vitamins

Verywell Family / Kevin Liang

Prenatal vitamins are essential during pregnancy to support both your health and the health of your growing baby. They include multivitamins and individual supplements that help fill nutrient gaps at a time your nutritional needs are greater. While it's important to consume a healthy, balanced diet, prenatal vitamins can help to prevent nutritional deficiencies that can potentially cause pregnancy complications. For that reason, they are recommended for those who are pregnant or trying to conceive.

The CDC recommends that those of reproductive age who may become pregnant, including those who are pregnant, take 400 micrograms of supplemental folic acid each day in addition to consuming folate-rich foods to prevent neural birth defects in a developing baby. While there is no standard formula for a prenatal multivitamin, they typically contain key nutrients including iron, vitamin D, vitamins A and C, iodine, choline, omega-3 DHA, and B vitamins, including folic acid. Aside from multivitamins, you might need additional supplements—whether you need these will depend on the nutrients your multivitamin is lacking as well as your diet and individual needs.

When shopping for your prenatal vitamins, it's important to choose supplements that are made by a trusted brand and, preferably, are third-party tested. Purity and quality are of utmost concern when it comes to taking supplements during pregnancy. To make our recommendations, our prenatal dietitian used her experience working with hundreds of pregnant people, and her insight from the latest research, and she consulted other experts in the field. Pregnancy brings unique nutritional needs, so be sure to speak with a healthcare professional before selecting a prenatal vitamin.

Editor's Note

Our team of registered dietitians reviews and evaluates every single supplement we recommend according to our dietary supplement methodology. From there, a registered dietitian on our Expert Review Board reviews each article for scientific accuracy.

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.

Best Overall

Ritual Essential Prenatal

Ritual Essential Prenatal


  • Includes choline and DHA

  • Citrus scented, delayed release capsule

  • Specifically targets 12 key nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy

  • Transparent sourcing and third-party tested

  • Not a complete multivitamin

Ritual's Essential Prenatal specifically targets 12 key nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy, with transparent ingredient sourcing and rigorous third-party testing. We like that it leaves out nutrients that are abundant in food sources that you are unlikely to be deficient in, reducing the risk of over supplementation and allowing you to add individual supplements as needed based on your specific diet and nutritional status. DHA is among the nutrients that Ritual prioritizes to foster a healthy pregnancy, with 350 milligrams of DHA from microalgae. It features the methylated form of folate for best absorption, and includes choline, iron, and more vitamin D than most other two-pill prenatals.

Ritual gets bonus points for offering all of these essentials into just two pills. It can be daunting to swallow multiple pills per day, and it might not be so friendly on your tummy. Ritual makes this process simpler. They have designed something called a Smart Capsule, which delays the release of nutrients in the body, so they are released in the part of your gut where they are absorbed, an area that is also less sensitive to digestive upset.

The capsules have a pleasantly smooth outside, and they place a citrus-infused tab into the bottle to help reduce nausea. The capsules are vegan, gluten-free, major allergen-free, non-GMO, and free of artificial colorants and fillers. Ritual also features transparent sourcing of all of their ingredients and does comprehensive third-party testing for identity, purity, strength, and composition as well as for heavy metals, microbes, allergens and other potential contaminants.

You will notice that calcium is left out, and only a modest amount of iron is included. If you do not consume dairy or other calcium-rich foods regularly, you will likely want to take an additional calcium supplement. If you are prone to iron deficiency, you might also need an additional supplement. Ritual also does not include vitamin A or C, a few B vitamins, and some trace minerals, such as zinc.

Of note, Ritual offers a subscription service for its products. It can be beneficial to get the vitamins (or any of its other products) at a slightly lower price point and automatically renewed. However, they are also available for one-time purchase if you don't want a subscription.

Price at time of publication: $39 for 60 count ($1.30 per serving)

Key Specs:
Key Nutrients: Methylated folate, choline, DHA | Dose: 2 pills | Third-Party Tested: Yes

Best Comprehensive

FullWell Prenatal Multivitamin

FullWell Women’s Prenatal Vitamin


  • Developed by a dietitian and provides dosages supported by the latest research

  • Provides methylated B vitamins, inositol, and choline

  • Capsules can be opened and mixed into smoothies

  • Third-party tested

  • Multiple capsules per serving

  • You may need to take separate iron and omega-3 supplements

You won't find FullWell on the shelves of your local drugstore, but we promise it's worth seeking out. Developed by a functional dietitian and mother, FullWell's Prenatal Multivitamin delivers top nutrient quality and dosages for people at all stages of their fertility and pregnancy journeys.

This prenatal goes above and beyond to deliver you the methylated forms of vitamin B12 and folate, which are the forms that all bodies can use. It contains 4,000 IU vitamin D, which can help to reverse deficiency and avoid complications such as gestational diabetes. This vitamin is also one of the few prenatals to contain not just a drop of choline but a whopping 300 mg. As a bonus, it contains inositol, which can be a useful nutrient for blood sugar balance.

By design, this prenatal does not contain iron or omega-3s, as iron needs vary by individual during pregnancy, and omega-3s may be best when taken separately from a multivitamin. While it's important to work with a healthcare provider to determine whether an iron supplement is beneficial (and if so, how much to take), we do recommend an omega-3 supplement for all who are pregnant—we like Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA.

FullWell's creator, Ayla Barmmer, MS, RD, LDN, knows that quality is important, and she spared no expense when it came to creating her product. Every lot is third-party tested. The facility is certified to comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and is UL-certified (a global safety certification). Due to the quantity of nutrients and their formulations, the serving size for FullWell is a somewhat daunting eight pills daily. However, these soft capsules are easy to swallow, and you can even break them open to add to your smoothie or oatmeal.

Price at time of publication: $50 for 240 count ($1.66 per serving)

Key Specs:
Key Nutrients: Methyltetrahydrofolate, choline, vitamin D, magnesium | Dose: 8 pills | Third-Party Tested: Yes

Best Budget-Friendly

Nature Made Prenatal Multi + DHA

Nature Made Prenatal Multi + DHA


  • USP verified

  • Once daily pill

  • Inexpensive

  • Contains lower levels of some key nutrients

For an all-in-one option that will provide high-quality nutrition, Nature Made Prenatal Multivitamin with DHA is a solid choice at a budget-friendly price. This company is known for producing high-quality and safe products at a price that is easy on your wallet, allowing you to set aside money to shop for nutrient-dense foods as well. Many like that Nature Made's is a once-daily soft gel and gluten-free, and that does not contain any artificial flavors.

At least 300 mg of DHA are recommended for pregnancy, and this supplement contains 200 mg on its own. If you can add to that one serving of fatty fish per week, you will be meeting your needs and helping your baby's brain and eye health.

While it contains DHA, this prenatal lacks a few nutrients such as adequate levels of vitamins A, C, and D. It contains calcium and iron together, which is not ideal for absorption. You will not find choline here either, and you may end up wanting to supplement with these other items if you are deficient or having a tough time meeting your needs through diet.

Price at time of publication: $27 for 110 count ($0.25 per serving)

Key Specs:
Key Nutrients: DHA and EPA, iron, folic acid | Dose: 1 pill | Third-Party Tested: Yes

Best Customizable

Care/of Prenatal



  • Customizable daily vitamin packets

  • Internally and third-party tested

  • Subscription service with convenient monthly deliveries

  • Lower doses of some key nutrients

While there are standardized RDAs for vitamins and minerals during pregnancy, each person has their own unique supplemental needs, depending on diet and overall health status. We love that Care/of enables you to customize your own daily vitamin packets with a convenient subscription service, offering monthly delivery to your doorstep. Their supplements are also internally and third-party tested for purity and potency

They offer a baseline prenatal multivitamin, including 22 essential vitamins and minerals in a three tablet serving size, and then you can add additional nutrients as needed. The prenatal is a comprehensive multivitamin, but it lower in some nutrients including iron, calcium, choline, and magnesium, compared to other options on our list. If your diet is low in these nutrients, you can always add an individual, additional supplement to your daily pack. They do not include DHA in their prenatal base, but you can add their omega-3 fish oil to your pack. Depending on how many supplemental vitamins you add, it could end up being a lot of pills to take daily.

Price at time of publication: Starting at $19 for a 30-day supply of the prenatal only ($0.63 per serving)

Key Specs:
Key Nutrients:
vitamin D, iron, choline, methylated folate | Dose: 3 tablets | Third-Party Tested: Yes

Best for Morning Sickness

Needed Powdered Prenatal

Needed Powdered Prenatal


  • Easily mixable powder

  • Contains 24 key vitamins and minerals

  • Third-party tested

  • Contains alternative sweeteners that some may not prefer

If you have problems with prenatals, such as nausea or difficulty swallowing them, a powdered prenatal is a great option. Needed has taken the prenatal and fertility supplement space by storm. This powdered prenatal was one of the company's early products that was a welcome option for those who experience morning sickness.

This vanilla-flavored and monk fruit-sweetened powder mixes easily into a smoothie, oatmeal, or latte. You can use it daily or alternate between the powder and their pill prenatal for the days you're feeling less queasy. Monk fruit is a high-intensity sweetener and brings its own flavor. It could be an issue for those who do not care for the taste.

Even as a powder, this prenatal manages to include vitamin A, ample vitamin D, methylated B vitamins, choline, calcium, and many other critical nutrients. It also contains a unique antioxidant blend. Needed manufacturers are all third-party tested.

The product is careful to include sustainably sourced forms of their nutrients and keeps unnecessary fillers and additives out. The biggest downside is cost. However, you could always take this during the stage when you feel most nauseous before switching to a more budget-friendly option.

Price at time of publication: $70 for 30 day supply ($2.33 per serving)

Key Specs:
Key Nutrients: Methyltetrahydrofolate, choline, calcium | Dose: 1 scoop of powder | Third-Party Tested: Yes

Best Prenatal + DHA

HUM Womb Service Prenatal Multi + DHA

HUM Womb Service Prenatal Multi + DHA


  • OB-GYN and registered dietitian formulated, and third-party tested

  • Includes choline, DHA and methylated folate

  • Separate vegan-friendly DHA pill without a fishy aftertaste

  • Lower in vitamin D

HUM Prenatal Multi + DHA is an OB-GYN formulated, two capsule solution to getting a complete prenatal multivitamin, including choline and methylated folate, as well 350 milligrams of DHA from algae oil. They separate the DHA from the multi capsule to reduce the fishy aftertaste that plant-based algae can sometimes have when combined with other vitamins and minerals.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important to the development and maintenance of all of our cells. DHA—docosahexaenoic acid—is thought to be particularly valuable to the development of a baby's eyes, brain, and nervous system. It is generally recommended to consume 200 milligrams of DHA per day during pregnancy. Keep in mind that you can also get DHA from whole food sources. For example, 3 ounces of salmon contains 1,240 milligrams. However, it can be hard to reach your daily intake through food alone, so supplementation can be helpful.

We love that HUM Prenatal Multi + DHA is formulated by OB-GYNs and registered dietitians, and is third-party tested for purity and quality, including heavy metal testing. It is also free of artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors and preservatives. This supplement contains 100% daily value of iron, but does not include calcium (which can compete for absorption with iron).

Price at time of publication: $31.50 for 60 count ($1.05 per serving)

Key Specs:

Key Nutrients:
Vitamin D, methylated folate, choline, iron, DHA | Dose: 2 capsule | Third-Party Tested: Yes

Best Organic

Garden of Life Mykind Organics Prenatal Multivitamin Tablets

Garden of Life Mykind Organics Prenatal Multivitamin Tablets


  • USDA Organic

  • Contains a stomach-soothing blend

  • Certified organic, vegan, and NSF Certified gluten-free

  • Vegan-friendly

  • No choline, magnesium, or calcium

  • Plant-sourced iron is less easily used by your body

  • Not third-party tested for purity and potency

Those who are looking to maintain a plant-based or vegan diet during pregnancy will want a supplement that sources high-quality plant ingredients. Mykind Organics is a solid choice, as it is certified USDA organic, free of GMOs, and certified vegan. It is NSF Certified Gluten-Free, but it is not third-party tested for purity and potency.

There are pros and cons to a plant-based prenatal. This one contains a unique stomach-soothing blend with ingredients like ginger, peppermint, and lemon to help with nausea. It also uses the food form of folate, which is very well absorbed and effective. However, it uses iron from plant sources, which is not as effective at raising iron levels in the case of anemia during pregnancy.

The Mykind Organics prenatal does not contain choline, magnesium, or calcium and skips DHA and EPA. If your are following a vegan or vegetarian diet, we recommend adding an algae-based omega-3 supplement. However, the supplement is three easy pills and is widely available at a more moderate price point.

Price at time of publication: $80 for 180 count ($1.33 per serving)

Key Specs:
Key Nutrients: Folate, vitamin A and C, and digestive-friendly herbs | Dose: 3 pills | Third-Party Tested: No

Best Choline

NusaPure Choline Bitartrate

NusaPure Choline Bitartrate


  • Contains adequate choline

  • Vegetarian

  • Gluten-free

  • Inexpensive

  • Only contains choline; need to also take a prenatal multivitamin

You may notice that your prenatal vitamin does not contain choline. If you are not regularly consuming choline-rich foods like eggs, liver, soybeans, and chicken, you will want to consider a stand-alone choline supplement to reach the recommended 450 mg per day of choline. Supplementing with choline during pregnancy can help the baby's brain and nervous system develop properly.

NusaPure is a trusted brand that follows GMP practices to produce safe and effective supplements. Their pills are vegetarian, gluten-free, and non-GMO.

You will notice that NusaPure lists 650 mg of choline bitartrate, which translates into 267 mg of elemental choline. The recommended amount for pregnancy is 450 mg, so this is one of the few supplements that gets you pretty close. Please note that NusaPure only contains choline and is not a full prenatal supplement, so you will have to choose another prenatal in addition to this.

Price at time of publication: $20 for 200 count ($0.20 per serving)

Key Specs:
Key Nutrients: Choline | Dose: 2 pills | Third-Party Tested: No

Best Personalized by Trimester

Perelel Vitamin

Perelel Vitamin


  • Specifically targets nutrient needs in different trimesters

  • Conveniently packaged

  • Developed by OBGYNs and dietitians, and third-party tested for purity and potency

  • 5 pill serving size

Pregnancy is a constant state of flux, and the need for some nutrients will change as you progress through each trimester. Perelel takes a unique approach and designs prenatal supplements based on trimester-specific needs. Each trimester subscription comes conveniently packed in a small sachet and starts with the core prenatal and omega-3. Then there are different add-ons. For example, the first trimester adds additional folate and ginger for nausea; the second trimester bumps up calcium and magnesium as the baby's skeletal system develops; and the third trimester adds on a probiotic. It's important to note that this probiotic addition might not provide any added benefits.

Perelel's products are non-GMO and dairy- and gluten-free. Still, these vitamins are not vegan as they source the omega-3 from high-quality fish oil. Each packet contains five pills, so if you have a tough time taking many pills, this one may not be the one for you. Since Perelel prides itself on high-quality ingredients and customization, it has a higher price point than other prenatals.

Price at time of publication: $50 for 30 pack count ($1.67 per serving)

Key Specs:
Key Nutrients: Folate, omega-3, choline | Dose: 5 pills | Third-Party Tested: Yes

Best Prenatal Omega-3

Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA

Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA


  • Friend of the Sea certified

  • No fishy taste

  • Pills are easy to swallow

  • Not suitable for vegetarians

  • Only contains DHA and vitamin D; also need to take a prenatal multivitamin

While a handful of prenatal vitamins contain DHA (an omega 3 fatty acid), DHA supplements are most often sold and recommended to be taken separately from other vitamins. Omega 3's are important during pregnancy to help with brain development for baby and may also play a role in length of gestation and healthy birth weight. Thus, we wanted to offer you a supplement option that is DHA alone (plus a small amount of vitamin D), so you can take it separately from your prenatal multivitamin. Fortunately, Nordic Naturals delivers a high-quality product that is merely two small capsules and comes in a flavorless version and strawberry flavor, so you won't be left with a fishy taste or burps.

This omega-3 supplement contains 480 mg of DHA, which is above the 300 mg recommended amount. So even if you are not consuming a serving of fatty fish, you can rest assured that your needs are being met. Alongside DHA is the complementary fatty acid, EPA, as well as a small amount of vitamin D. Nordic Naturals sources easily absorbable forms of omega-3s from anchovies and sardines, so this supplement would not be suitable for vegetarians. However, in case the environmental impact of fishing is important to you, Nordic prides itself on being non-GMO and Friends of the Sea certified.

Please note that this is not a full multivitamin prenatal supplement, as it only contains DHA and vitamin D.

Price at time of publication: $50 for 180 count ($0.56 per serving)

Key Specs:
Key Nutrients: DHA, EPA, vitamin D3 | Dose: 2 pills | Third-Party Tested: Yes 

Best Gummy

Smarty Pants Daily Organic Gummy Prenatal Vitamin

Smarty Pants Daily Organic Gummy Prenatal Vitamin


  • NSF certified

  • Easy to take

  • Provides many key nutrients for a gummy

  • Contains 7 grams of added sugars

  • Does not contain calcium, iron, or magnesium

It can be enjoyable and comforting to take a chewable, gummy vitamin like you did when you were a kid. Smarty Pants created an easy-to-take gummy prenatal vitamin that is third-party tested and free of synthetic colors, artificial flavors, top allergens, and salicylates. In just four easy gummies, you will be getting a dose of key nutrients for yourself and your growing baby.

Smarty Pants' prenatal does include all of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), folate as L-methylfolate, and a small amount of choline and omega-3 fatty acids. Because some nutrients are more bulky, and manufacturers can't squeeze them into a few gummies, they are left out. Keep in mind that you might need additional calcium, iron, or magnesium if you choose this product.

One perk of gummy vitamins is that they taste great. However, this great flavor comes from added sugars. This product uses cane sugar for sweetness, so be mindful of your overall added sugar consumption if this prenatal is also part of your daily routine.

Price at time of publication: $27 for 120 count ($0.90 per serving)

Key Specs:
Key Nutrients: Vitamin D, methylated folate, choline, DHA | Dose: 4 gummies | Third-Party Tested: Yes

Best Food-Based Prenatal

Tend Complete Prenatal Nutrition Bar

Tend Prenatal Bar

  • Includes 25 essential nutrients from 15 organic plant-based sources

  • Includes protein and fiber

  • No artificial additives, fillers

  • Not third-party tested

  • Includes 8 grams of added sugar

If you are looking for a food-based prenatal, we recommend trying Tend Complete Prenatal Nutrition Bar. This bar includes 25 essential nutrients from organic, whole food, plant sources, including 300 milligrams of vegan omega-3 DHA, 130 milligrams of choline, 600 milligrams of folate and a high dose of 4,000 IU of vitamin D.

This may not be a feasible daily supplement, given each bar costs $6.50, and it is not as convenient as taking a capsule. The cost of the bars go down slightly with the 12-pack and 30-pack monthly subscription offers, but the lowest price is $4.63 per bar. If this product is something you want to try out, you could alternate this bar with a capsule prenatal. It is important to note that this bar should not be eaten on the same day you are taking a prenatal vitamin to avoid over-supplementation.

They offer three flavors including Peanut Butter Chocolate, Lemon Berry, and Chocolate Sea Salt. The macronutrient composition of the bars vary by flavor but some contain 10 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber, as well as healthy fats and carbohydrates, making it a great snack option. We like that all flavors include a ginger extract and mint blend to help soothe pregnancy-related nausea.

Price at time of publication: $39 for 6 count ($6.50 per serving)

Key Specs:

Key Nutrients: Vitamin D, iron, folate, choline, DHA | Dose: 1 bar | Third-Party Tested: No

Are Prenatal Vitamins Beneficial?

Those who are trying to conceive: The CDC recommends that everyone who could become pregnant take 400 micrograms of folic acid each day to prevent neural birth defects in case they become pregnant. Those who are trying to conceive, especially those with restrictive dietary patterns or certain health conditions, may also be at risk of deficiencies in other nutrients. Many prenatal dietitians recommend supplementing with a prenatal vitamin even before becoming pregnant.

Those who are pregnant: Pregnancy is a time of increased nutritional needs. According to USDA data, many who are pregnant and lactating are not meeting recommendations for certain food groups and specific nutrients, so it is generally recommended for those populations to take a daily prenatal vitamin. Both the CDC and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend taking a daily prenatal vitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid during pregnancy.

Those who are breastfeeding: It may be beneficial to continue a prenatal vitamin postpartum while breastfeeding; however the RDAs during lactation differ slightly from those of who have not yet given birth. For example, prenatal vitamins may exceed postpartum needs for both iron and folic acid, and may be too low in iodine and choline.

Who Might Not Benefit from a Prenatal Vitamin

Men: Getting pregnant is a two-person job. The man's overall health, as well as sperm health, are important to consider, specifically while trying to conceive. Research has seen positive effects on sperm count, motility, and morphology, as well as conception, from supplemental intakes of selenium, vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha-lipoic acid, folic acid, and zinc. While most prenatal supplements are specifically designed for people who can become pregnant, we encourage men to work with a healthcare provider if they would like to choose a supplement to improve their fertility.

If you do not plan to become pregnant: If you do not plan to become pregnant soon, you may be better off sticking with a standard multivitamin. Prenatal vitamins contain higher levels of certain nutrients due to the increased needs of mom and baby, but they are not necessary for a non-pregnant state unless you have documented deficiencies.

You can take prenatal vitamins even if you are not pregnant. However, it is advised to take them leading up to pregnancy and even during the postpartum period. Keep in mind that prenatals are designed for the state of pregnancy, where the need for some nutrients is greater than in the non-pregnant state, so you will want to be careful not to over-consume supplements.

How We Select Supplements

We work hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements in our dietary supplement methodology. We also spoke to registered dietitian Kristin Brown, BSc, RD. Our dietitian Anne Cook Carroll, MS, RD, CDN is constantly reviewing new prenatal vitamins and keeping an eye on the latest research to make sure our recommendations are up-to-date.

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, and we prioritize products that are third-party tested and certified by one of three independent, third-party certifiers: USP, NSF, or ConsumerLabs.

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.

Key Nutrients in a Prenatal Vitamin

Prenatal vitamins contain a wide range of nutrients, targeting the specific vitamin and mineral needs to support a healthy pregnancy. "I look for the active form of the B vitamins folate [B9] and methylcobalamin [B12]. I also look for iodine, choline, and adequate amounts of vitamin D," says Brown, who owns Grounded Health Nutrition and Wellness.

These are some of the top nutrients to look for in a prenatal vitamin and their different forms:


Folate is a B vitamin found naturally in dark leafy greens, citrus, nuts, and liver. Folic acid is the form of folate that has been recommended as a supplement for years. However, it is the inactive form of the vitamin and must be converted to the active form for your body to use it. We now know that roughly half of the population has a genetic mutation (MTHFR gene variant) that can impact this conversion process. That is why, in recent years, there have been more prenatal supplements that include the active form, L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, rather than folic acid. It is important to note that the CDC still recommends supplemental folate in the form of folic acid, regardless of MTHFR genotype.

Folic acid or L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate is arguably the most important nutrient to begin taking once you learn you are pregnant, and ideally a few months prior to becoming pregnant. It is responsible for the formation of the neural tube (what will become the brain and spinal cord). The Institute of Medicine and U.S. National Institutes of Health still recommend supplementing with 600 mcg of folic acid during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is actually a hormone and plays a role in bone growth, regulating cell growth, immune function, and glucose metabolism. There are not many good food sources of vitamin D, so a supplement is usually warranted in pregnancy to maintain adequate levels.

Studies have shown that those who were deficient in vitamin D had higher rates of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and preterm birth, and were more likely to give birth to small babies. Their children also had weaker, less-dense bones at their peak.

Vitamin D as cholecalciferol is the more potent form, compared to the plant-based form, ergocalciferol. If you want to effectively boost your vitamin D status, then vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is the way to go.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A-rich foods, such as liver, sweet potato, spinach, pumpkin, and carrots, are excellent dietary sources to consume regularly and safely. Vitamin A is essential for cell differentiation and replication. It plays an important role in the development of the eyes, ears, spine, and heart.

Vitamin A is one of the few vitamins that should be carefully monitored for not exceeding toxic levels. Doses exceeding 10,000 IU/day of the retinol form of vitamin A have been linked to severe birth defects. While many do not need to supplement with vitamin A during pregnancy, those who choose to supplement with this nutrient may want to consider options with the beta-carotene form, which is not dangerous in high doses.


There is little question about the need for adequate intake, and while iron can be easily found in beef, oysters, beans, spinach, and more, deficiency is not uncommon. During pregnancy, the number of red blood cells increases to help carry oxygen to the baby. Every cell (including those of the baby) requires iron, and as a result, iron needs will double during pregnancy.

Poor iron status is linked to iron deficiency anemia (IDA), and the possibility of preterm birth, low birth weight, low fetal iron stores, and impaired cognitive and behavioral development. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages screening for and treatment of IDA with supplemental iron or prenatal vitamins.

Iron can be found in many forms in prenatal vitamins. Ferrous iron is more bioavailable than ferric, and prenatals may contain ferrous fumarate, ferrous sulfate, or ferrous gluconate. In high doses, iron in these forms may cause constipation, so the bisglycinate form or polysaccharide-iron complex might be better tolerated.


Choline still feels like the "new kid on the block" when it comes to prenatal nutrition, but luckily, it is getting more of the attention it deserves. Consumption of two eggs per day can meet half of your choline needs. However, the majority do not meet recommended intakes during pregnancy. It can also be found in red meat, liver, salmon, chicken breast, and beans.

Choline is an essential nutrient that is needed to build cell membranes and neurotransmitters. It is also important for gene expression, lipid transport, and brain development. Consuming choline while pregnant helps with the health and function of the placenta, improves the neural development of the offspring, and plays a role in epigenetic programming, which could influence the baby's cognitive development and chronic disease risk.

Choline comes in various forms as well, each with differing amounts of actual choline per gram. Choline bitartrate and alpha-GCP have more choline, whereas the more commonly found forms of phosphatidyl-choline and citicoline have less choline. That doesn't mean that one source is necessarily "better" than another, but you may need a higher dose of the forms that contain less choline.

Prenatal supplements contain very little, if any, choline, so it's an important nutrient to scan labels for, or to take separately. For more information on choline supplementation during pregnancy, take a look at our Best Choline Supplements for Pregnancy article.


Brain health and development get a lot of attention during pregnancy, and so you have likely heard of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. This compound, which is primarily found in fatty fish, is critical for brain, eye, and nervous system development. It has even been studied to show longer gestation periods (potentially lower risk of premature birth), higher birth weight, better mental and psychomotor skills in the offspring, and improved cardiovascular health later in life.

As there is so much confusion regarding seafood intake during pregnancy (hint: low-mercury fish are safe and encouraged), many people are not consuming enough DHA, so supplementation is helpful.

What to Look For in a Prenatal Vitamin

Third-Party Testing

Supplements that are third-party tested are sent to a lab and tested to ensure that they contain what they say they do, and are not contaminated with specific high-risk, common contaminants. However, it's important to note the following:

  • Third-party testing does not test to see whether a product is effective or safe for everyone, and it does not ensure that 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 you can trust are, NSF, and USP. However, these certifications are expensive and difficult to obtain, 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.
  • Even though a supplement is not tested by one of these three companies, that does not mean it's a bad product. We recommend doing some research on the reputability of the manufacturer and calling the manufacturer and its testing lab to determine their protocols and decide if you feel comfortable consuming the supplement.

Ingredients, Potential Interactions, and Contraindications

It is essential to read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement carefully so you can know which ingredients are present and how much of each one is included, relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Take the supplement label to your healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between the ingredients and other supplements and medications you may be taking.

There is limited clinical research on the safety and efficacy of herbal supplements and adaptogens during pregnancy, so it is generally recommended to avoid supplements that contain them while you are pregnant. One herbal ingredient that is sometimes seen in prenatal vitamins is red raspberry leaf, sometimes used during pregnancy and labor to tone and strengthen the uterus. While this is a popular supplement among midwives and the complementary medicine field, there aren't enough studies on its safety or efficacy. Since it is known to induce contractions, much of the research has focused on its use only after 32 weeks of gestation, so the safety of taking this supplement in the first and second trimesters, and its connection with preterm labor, are unclear.

Prenatal Vitamin Dosage

The dosage of the various vitamins and minerals you may find in a prenatal vitamin will vary greatly. While there are RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) and UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Levels) established, there is no definition or standard of what nutrients a prenatal vitamin must contain, and at what levels.

Everyone has different needs, baseline nutrient levels, absorption capabilities, and pregnancy-related complications that may arise. It's important to discuss with your healthcare provider which nutrients are a top priority for you, obtain bloodwork to confirm any suspected deficiencies that could warrant more aggressive supplementation, and consider what your diet contributes during this critical time.

Some prenatal vitamin companies may add more or less than the established RDA for a nutrient, or they may use different forms of a vitamin or mineral. Therefore, it is beneficial to research the reputability of the company and its scientific process for developing its product.

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 four-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 (or for those with the MTHFR gene variant), 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 one is deficient going into pregnancy. If one is deficient during pregnancy, they may benefit from slightly higher therapeutic doses.

Iron: The tolerable upper intake level of iron is 45 mg during pregnancy. While it is rare to overload on iron from foods, excessive supplemental intakes can cause gastric upset, constipation, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and faintness, especially if taken on an empty stomach.

Choline: During pregnancy, it is not recommended to exceed 3,500 mg of choline. Excessive intake can lead to fishy body odor or hypotension, low blood pressure, caused by increased production of TMAO, a substance correlated with cardiovascular disease.

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and to determine which dosage to take.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When should I start taking prenatal vitamins?

    Prenatal vitamins contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that target the unique nutritional needs during pregnancy. However, since your nutritional status at the start of pregnancy is essential for the first trimester and beyond, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends starting a prenatal vitamin containing at least 400 micrograms of folic acid one to three months before pregnancy. In general, your overall health and nutritional status is important for successful conception and a healthy pregnancy. Evidence suggests that taking a prenatal vitamin three months before getting pregnant could help improve egg quality, as well as ensure you are starting pregnancy on a solid foundation.

    Because the start of pregnancy can be difficult to predict, many physicians recommend that women start a prenatal when they start trying to conceive. The CDC recommends that all women of reproductive age take a supplement with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid, to prevent neural tube defects in the event that they become pregnant.

  • When should you stop taking a prenatal vitamin?

    As far as when to stop taking a prenatal, some physicians recommend continuing your prenatal through the postpartum period to meet continued increased needs. However, the specific nutritional needs postpartum and while breastfeeding are different than during pregnancy for some specific nutrients.

    For example, iron needs increase to 27 milligrams per day during pregnancy, but drop to 18 milligrams for non-pregnant females and 9 milligrams for those that are breastfeeding. When choosing a prenatal for post-pregnancy, consider one with lower iron.

  • Do prenatal vitamins help you get pregnant?

    While prenatal vitamins can help correct possible nutrient deficiencies, which may aid in conception, they are not a guarantee for establishing a pregnancy. Remember that prenatal vitamins are still meant to supplement a healthy diet. Ultimately, food intake, as well as stress and self-care practices, can determine the ability to conceive more than a vitamin can.

  • Do prenatal vitamins help your hair grow?

    The primary reason for having longer and stronger locks during pregnancy is related to high levels of estrogen. Still, many are quick to think it's just from their prenatal vitamin. Evidence as to the effects of folic acid, biotin, vitamin D, iron, and other nutrients and whether they impact hair loss is mixed.

  • Why are prenatal vitamins important?

    Pregnancy can throw you tons of curveballs—nausea, reduced appetite, heartburn, low energy—and these can impact your food intake. During this period of intense growth and development, having an added layer of security from a prenatal vitamin, when everything else feels impossible some days, is a smart decision. As mentioned above, few people meet their nutrient needs from their diet, so a prenatal vitamin can help to fill the gaps.

  • How much do prenatal vitamins cost?

    Prenatal vitamins vary in price, based on the size of the package, the brand, and the nutrients included. Options range from about $0.10 per day to up to about $2.50 per day. The options that are the most comprehensive, with most of the nutrients we recommend supplementing in high enough doses, are often more expensive. Some options are more expensive simply because they are made by boutique brands.

    The form of the supplement is also a factor. Our most expensive option is Needed's powdered prenatal, which may be helpful during periods of pregnancy when nausea makes it too difficult to swallow a pill.

    Our top pick is FullWell's Prenatal Multivitamin which comes out to about $1.67 per day—it contains optimal levels of almost all nutrients. But we do recommend taking an omega-3 supplement in addition, and, depending on your individual body and diet, you may also need an iron supplement.

    Our budget pick, Nature Made's Prenatal + DHA, is third-party verified, affordable. It is a one-pill-a-day option, and it contains some key nutrients, but it is also not nutritionally ideal. You may still save money by choosing this option and adding some individual nutrient supplements each day.

  • What is inositol?

    You may notice inositol as an ingredient in some prenatal vitamins on the market. Inositol, sometimes referred to as vitamin B8, acts as an insulin sensitizer, which means that it helps regulate blood sugar levels. With the rising rates of prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes, as well as PCOS, inositol is being looked at as a valid therapeutic approach to blood sugar management in pregnancy. It may be included in some prenatal supplements and is generally recognized as safe.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Casey Seiden is a registered dietitian nutritionist and certified diabetes care and education specialist based in New York City. Casey works at Maternal Fetal Medicine Associates, the premier maternal-fetal medicine practice in Manhattan, where she provides nutrition therapy and counseling to patients with high-risk pregnancies. She is also the founder of Casey Seiden Nutrition, a virtual private practice specializing in a non-diet approach to diabetes care and women’s health.

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