The Best Prenatal Vitamins

Start your baby off right

We surveyed the ingredients labels of 67 over-the-counter brands, and then talked to a panel of doctors to find out what to look for in the best prenatal vitamin. The answer: a safe and effective amount of folate, a few key nutrients, like vitamin D, plus a third-party to vet it — so you actually know what you're taking.

The Best Prenatal Vitamins

  • August 10, 2017: New research from the FDA concluded that folic acid is 70 percent more easily absorbed than natural folate. That means any amount of folic acid in a prenatal vitamin is worth 1.7 times that amount of folate. This change put many of our previous picks above the recommended daily allowance, so we took a closer look at all our products, updated the numbers, and chose new vitamins. All of our top picks now contain effective levels of folate without exceeding the recommended daily allowance.

Google anything about prenatal vitamins and you’ll be hit with a tidal wave of contradictory and often ominous headlines: “Prenatal vitamins may reduce risk of pregnancy loss by 55%” lives just a few search results before, “Prenatal Multivitamins Can Raise Risk of Miscarriage.” A recent study even came out suggesting that prenatal vitamins might be unnecessary altogether. And to add to the confusion, these vitamins don’t have to be approved by the FDA because they’re classified as “supplements”. So making the decision on which prenatal to choose — if any at all — can get downright scary.

So what’s the answer? All the experts we talked to unanimously agreed: Don’t skip them. Taking a daily regimen of prenatal vitamins will help the health of both you and your baby.

Our Top Pick

Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin Complete prenatal nutrition from organic, food-based sources.

All our prenatal recommendations include the most important nutrients — folic acid, vitamins A and D, and iron, among others — but our favorite is Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin. At about eleven cents per serving, it is significantly less expensive than our other top picks while containing the highest amounts of choline and the right amount of folate.

If you’re looking for higher concentrations of iron, iodine, or calcium, The Honest Company Prenatal Multivitamin had the highest dosage of all of these packed into a naturally vanilla-flavored pill.

For a completely organic food based supplement, we chose Garden of Life myKind Organics Prenatal Vitamin. It’s organic, vegan, gluten free and non-GMO verified. However, it is about 15 times more expensive per serving than Deva Vegan, and you have to take three pills each day.

That said, what might work well for one person might not be a smart choice for another. Some women need more iron than others (women who are anemic, for example), while others might need more calcium. If you live in a cloudy area or really slather on the sunscreen, you might need a higher dosage of vitamin D. The best way to know what’s best for you is to talk to your doctor.

Our Picks for the Best Prenatal Vitamins

Best Overall

Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin A prenatal vitamin with safe amounts of folic acid, the highest amount of choline, and an unbeatable value.

Deva’s Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin had every nutrient we were looking for, plus it was third-party tested, had no artificial sweeteners, and contained safe and effective levels of folic acid. That last part is rarer than it might sound: The research around folic acid being absorbed at higher concentrations than folate pushes many supplements over the upper tolerance level of 1,000 mcg DFE. However, Deva’s conversion managed to maintain that safe-but-effective balance at 935 mcg. Among the products that met our requirements, this was easily the most folate equivalent without going over the maximum recommended amount.

Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin also had the most choline of the supplements that passed our criteria. Choline has only recently gained traction as an important nutrient during pregnancy, and most supplements don’t include it yet. Though Deva’s 50 mg of choline isn’t quite enough to make a significant impact, any at all is a bonus.

The tablets are the smallest of our top picks, smaller than a quarter, and really have no taste at first. But swallow quickly: As its coating wears off a bile-heavy after-taste seeps in. Fortunately, you only need to take one pill per day.

The only drawback when it comes to Deva? Third-party testing company Labdoor found Deva’s prenatal to carry 85% less vitamin D than the label claims. If you live in a sunnier area or already take a vitamin D supplement, Deva is still a great pick. For those who want to prioritize vitamin D, The Honest Company Prenatal Multivitamin passed Labdoor’s vitamin D label claim testing.

But Deva offered all of that nutrition at a cheaper price than either of our other picks. A bottle of Deva’s supplement is only $10 for 90 servings ($0.11 per serving), which means $50 will get you about 15 months worth of Deva Vegan vitamins (perfect for continuing supplements during lactation.)

Runner-Up

The Honest Company Prenatal Multivitamin A larger capsule that holds the highest amounts of vitamin D, iron, calcium, and iodine.

The Honest Company Prenatal Multivitamin is solid choice for pregnancy supplementation, with 600 mcg of folate. It contains both synthetic and food-based ingredients.

If you need a little more iron, calcium, or iodine in your system, The Honest Co. has 27 mg of iron, 200 mg of calcium, and 200 mcg of iodine — more than our other top picks. This prenatal vitamin also contains 30 mg of choline. Again, that’s not enough to truly be effective, but it’s more than Garden of Life’s zero. Overall, the Honest Company’s prenatal really loads up on all the essentials.

Though this pill was the largest of our picks — a bit bigger than a quarter — it adds natural vanilla for flavor. The immediate aftertaste is surprisingly pleasant as a result, but leave it in your mouth long enough for the coating to come off and you’ll get a terrible almost salt-water fishy taste. If anything, it’ll encourage a quick swallow.

The Honest Company also advertises their multivitamin as being better on sensitive stomachs, as it contains a digestive enzyme blend sourced from pineapple, kiwi, and papaya. The bottle claims you can take them even on an empty stomach, but Amazon reviewers were split. Some found the vanilla flavor not to be very gentle for those suffering morning sickness. For others, the vanilla hint was the only way they could get it down. If you’ve got particularly bad morning sickness, some women take their prenatals before bed.

Best Food Based

Garden of Life myKind Organics Prenatal Multi Complete prenatal nutrition from organic, food-based sources.

As our only fully food-based recommendation, Garden of Life is great for people who prioritize organics and food-sourced nutrients. Garden of Life uses only food-based ingredients, with the source of each listed on the label: Its folate is derived from organic broccoli, and its vitamin C comes from organic lemon. The vitamin is also organic, vegan, and gluten free.

Food-based vitamins are often claimed to be easier on your stomach and healthier because they’re derived from natural sources, but there isn’t conclusive evidence proving they’re superior to vitamins with nutrients created in a lab. In fact, Dr. Sullivan told us he tells his patients to take synthetic vitamins because they contain potassium iodine, which is a more stable and reliable form of iodine than those derived from natural sources such as kelp. And having natural nutrients doesn’t actually mean more nutrients: Compared to our other top picks, Garden of Life has less folate (800 mcg), calcium (15 mg), and iron (18 mg).

One serving is three tablets, which taste noticeably like grass. After taking three of these quarter sized capsules, we found it left a weird dry film in our mouths.

Our Top Picks at a Glance

Folate or Daily Folate Equivalent (DFE)

Choline

Price per Serving

Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin

935 mcg

50 mg

$0.11

The Honest Company Prenatal Multivitamin

600 mcg

30 mg

$0.67

Garden of Life myKind Organics Prenatal Multi

800 mcg

0 mg

$1.66

Did You Know?

Yes, you should be taking a prenatal viatmin.

Every doctor we talked to unanimously agreed: taking a prenatal vitamin regularly before and during pregnancy is a smart idea. It can only help reduce the risk of birth defects, and improve your own health during pregnancy, too.

However, in July 2016, a study out of the UK published in the journal Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin cast doubt on that advice.

The researchers concluded that of all the vitamins required by growing fetuses, only folic acid and vitamin D were necessary in supplement form. It resulted in a parade of news stories and handwringing blog posts questioning whether prenatal vitamins are necessary — or if they’re worth the sometimes hefty cost. The most salient question most articles asked was this: If expecting or pregnant women eat healthy diets and take folic acid and vitamin D via daily supplements, do they really need to add additional nutrients in daily pill form?

“Unless you are a die-hard foodie, I would not advise skipping it,” says Dr. Avena. “This is because there are always days that something comes up, and we can’t get all of the right nutrients.”

The doctors we talked to also questioned the recent research out of the UK. “That particular paper, while I think it was a nice review, it wasn’t really a study,” Dr. Sullivan told us. “There wasn’t any new data or anything. It was an opinion piece.”

If possible, start before you get pregnant.

Neural tube defects happen during the first month of pregnancy, when a fetus is in the earliest stages of development. And often, that’s before women even know they’re pregnant. Since it’s critical to have sufficient levels of folic acid during those first weeks of pregnancy, doctors recommend women start taking a daily prenatal vitamin one or two months before trying to conceive (this includes undergoing in vitro fertilization).

But know they can't do everything.

Our expert panel also emphasized the fact that prenatal vitamins can’t completely compensate for a poor diet during pregnancy either. Good supplements do precisely what they say: They supplement healthy eating habits and conscientious nutrition.

“Some people feel that, ‘All I’ve got to do is take a prenatal vitamin and I’m good,’” Dr. Sullivan said. “That’s not necessarily true. Some people need even more supplementation; other people need to pay attention their diet as well.”

The Bottom Line

A prenatal vitamin alone won’t ensure a healthy pregnancy, but it will help make up for any nutritional gaps that exist in your diet. Seek out a prenatal that contains essential nutrients such as folic acid, iron, vitamin D, and calcium — and make sure you’re eating a balanced diet with a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins.

And always consult with your doctor before taking any prenatal vitamin.

The Best Prenatal Vitamins: Summed Up