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The Best Prenatal Multivitamins for 2014

See Our Comparison of over 100 Prenantal Vitamin Supplement Brands and Find the Right One for Your Needs

Best Prenatal Multivitamins By Olivia Reinard

The demands put on the bodies of pregnant women are truly astonishing. During this time, future mothers need not only to meet their own nutritional needs, but also those of their unborn child. While expecting moms need from 15 to 30 percent more calories per day, their need for certain vitamins and minerals increases by as much as 50 percent.1 In fact, the daily recommended intake (DRI) of 14 out of the 21 essential micronutrients are higher for women expecting a child.2 Since it is nearly impossible for pregnant women to meet their nutritional needs from diet alone, they need to take supplements that contain the vitamins and minerals essential for their health, as well as the health of their child.

What is the best prenatal multivitamin?

The table below provides a summary of the Effectiveness Scores of some of the best prenatal multivitamin brands available on the market. Any product with a score that exceeds 8.0 is considered to be "excellent". For best results, using a prenatal vitamin supplement with a score of 8.0 or above is strongly advised.

Table 1: List of the top prenatal vitamin supplements (sorted by effectiveness)
RankCompanyProductEffectiveness
1MetagenicsWellness Essentials Pregnancy 9.10
2Douglas LaboratoriesPrenatal Pack 9.04
3Rainbow LightComplete Prenatal System 8.87
4Country LifeMaxi Pre-Natal Multi Vitamins 8.77
5Source NaturalsMother's Choice Prenatal Multiple 8.69
6Nutritional FrontierMulti Prenatal 8.67
7Davinci LabUltimate Prenatal 8.59
8Rainbow LightPrenatal One + DHA Packs 8.45
9True Fit Vitamins Prenatal Plus 8.40
10Pure Essence Labs Mother To Be Prenatal 8.39
11Rainbow LightPrenatal Petite 8.37
12VitabasePreNatal Plus 8.34
13SolarayBaby-Me-Now 8.34
14Biotics ResearchPre-Natal Packs 8.32
15Trace Minerals ResearchLiquid Multi Vitamin-Mineral 8.28
16Jarrow FormulasPreg-Natal + DHA Packets 8.25
17MegaFoodBaby & Me 8.24
18FoodFactsTriPrenatal Plus 8.22
19MegaFood Baby & Me, Herb Free 8.19
20Rainbow LightPrenatal One Multivitamin 8.16
21SolgarPrenatal Nutrients 8.16
22Seeking HealthOptimal Prenatal 8.14
23Innate Response FormulasBaby & Me Trimester I & II 8.03
24GNCWomen's Prenatal Program 8.01
25Douglas LaboratoriesPrenatal 8.00
26PhysiologicsPre-Natal Formula 7.99
27Puritan's PridePre-Natal Complex 7.99
28Pure EncapsulationsPrenatal Nutrients 7.98
29Buried TreasurePreNatal Plus DHA Complete 7.97
30Biogenesis NutraceuticalsUltra Natal (Prenatal Vitamin) 7.96
31Nature's Way Completia Prenatal Multivitamin 7.94
32Integrative TherapeuticsPrenatal Forte 7.88
33Anabolic LaboratoriesAved-Prenatal Multi 7.87
34Thompson (Nutraceutical)Prenatal Formula 7.85
35Nature's Way Prenatal Complete Multivitamin Formula 7.85
36Vitalah Oxylent Prenatal Multivitamin Drink 7.84
37Good n NaturalPre Natal Complex 7.84
38SimilacPrental Multivitamin + DHA/Lutein 7.79
39Vital NutrientsPreNatal Multi-Nutrients 7.78
40Super Nutrition Simply One Prenatal 7.77
41Deva Vegan Vitamins Prenatal Vitamins 7.76
42Nature's PlusUltra Prenatal 7.75
43Emerald Labs (Ultra Labs)Prenatal Multi Vit-A-Min Raw Whole-Food 7.75
44BrainStrongPrenatal Multivitamin 7.74
45MetagenicsFem Prenatal 7.73
46Easy2Swallow VitaminsPrenatal Vitamins 7.72
47GNCUltra Mega Green Prenatal 7.71
48Nature's LifePrenatal Multiple Vit/Min 7.70
49GNCWomen's Prenatal Formula with Iron 7.68
50GNCWomen's Prenatal Formula with DHA 7.68
51Rainbow LightCertified Organic Prenatal Multivitamin 7.67
52Pure Life Prenatal Multi-Plus 7.65
53Thorne ResearchBasic Prenatal 7.63
54My Brest Friend Breastfeeding Essentials 7.62
55Kal (Nutraceutical)Advanced Prenatal Formula 7.62
56Nature's PlusSource Of Life Prenatal 7.56
57KarunaMAXXI-Natal 7.53
58Garden of LifeVitamin Code RAW Prenatal Multivitamin 7.48
59CarlsonPreNatal Multiple with DHA 7.46
60New ChapterPerfect Prenatal Multi Vitamin 7.45
61NOW FoodsPrenatal + DHA 7.40
62NewMarkPrenatal Synbiotic Nutrients 7.40
63Design For HealthPrenatal Pro 7.38
64Priority OnePre-Natal 7.37
65Pure Essence LabsOne 'n' Only PreNatal Multiple 7.37
66Kal (Nutraceutical)Vita Mom Prenatal Formula 7.32
67Maxi Health Health One Prenatal 7.24
68Nature's PlusPrenatal Woman's Dietary Supplement 7.21
69TwinlabPre-Natal Care 7.21
70Nature's PlusPrenatal Liquid Multi 7.20
71Delta LabsMultivitamin Prenatal 7.18
72Centrum Specialist Specialist Complete Multivitamin: Prenatal 7.16
73Super Nutrition PreNatal Blend 2 7.10
74Integrative therapeuticsClinical Nutrients Prenatal Formula 6.99
75Enzymatic TherapyDoctor's Choice Prenatal Multivitamin 6.99
76One A Day (Bayer)Women's Prenatal Multivitamin 6.86
77Progressive LabsPrenatal Multiple 6.81
78GNCUltra Mega Green Prenatal 6.80
79Country Life Realfood Organics Prenatal Multivitamin 6.78
80WalgreensPharmacist's Support Prenatal+DHA 6.77
81Nature's SunshineNature's Prenatal 6.77
82StuartPrenatal + DHA, Multivitamins 6.55
83Olympian Labs Brand New Mother Premium Multivitamin 6.51
84Kirkland Signature (Costco)Prenatal Advanced Care Vitamins/Minerals 6.51
85Eclectic InstituteVita Natal 6.49
86Lifetime ProfessionalPrenatal Formula 6.47
8721st CenturyPrenatal Multivitamin + DHA 120 6.35
88Perry (Kirkman's Group)Prenatal 6.34
89Natures AidNatures Aid Prenatal Support 6.31
90BellybarBellybar Prenatal Chewable 6.29
91Nature's Blend (Swanson)Prenatal Formula Multivitamin 6.27
92Nature MadePrenatal Multi + DHA 6.25
93Nature's BountyPrenatal Vitamins 6.17
94Nutrition NowPrenatal Gummy Vitamins  6.07
95Vitafusion (Northwest)PreNatal Gummy Vitamins 5.99
9621st CenturyPreNatal 5.96
97Finest Nutrition (Walgreens)Prenatal Vitamin 5.89
98Sundown NaturalsPrenatal, Vitamin & Mineral Formula 5.89
99Body First (Allstarthealth)Prenatal Multi 5.81
100StuartPrenatal Multivitamin/Multimineral 5.81
101WalgreensPre-Natal Vitamin Tablets 5.81
102RugbyPrenavite Prenatal Formula 5.80
103Nature MadeMulti Prenatal, Tablets 5.75
104Olympian LabsAspiring Mother Premium Multivitamin 5.67
105Prescribed ChoicePre-Natal Multivitamin 5.50
106PremamaPrenatal Vitamin Powdered Supplement Mix 5.41

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While pregnant and breastfeeding women are often reminded that they are “eating for two,” this advice does not mean calorie intake; rather, it refers to the nutrients needed by both mother and child. When pregnant women do not get sufficient vitamins and minerals, they put their health and the health of their unborn child at risk. Some of the consequences of nutritional deficiencies for the mother and the unborn child include the following:

  • Anemia
  • Problems with wound healing
  • Low birth weight
  • Increased risk of preeclampsia and eclampsia
  • Premature birth
  • High risk of heart defects, neural tube defects, and urinary track abnormalities2

The effects of maternal malnutrition have lifelong consequences for the child. When a fetus does not get the vitamins and minerals it needs, the child has an increased risk for chronic health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and heart disease.3

Given the severe consequences of poor nutrition for both mother and child, women need to ensure the supplement they take during pregnancy has all the essential nutrients they need, as well as those required by their unborn child.

Which are the best prenatal vitamins?

When choosing a nutritional supplement to take during pregnancy, expectant mothers need to check to make sure it contains the following nutrients:

Folate

While the current Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) is 600 mcg per day, a Hungarian study of more than 5,400 pregnant women found that those who took supplements containing 800 mcg reduced their risk of having a child born with a neural tube defect by 90 percent. Folate is also essential for healthy fetal brain and spinal cord development and reducing the risk of heart defects and the development of a cleft palate.3,4,5

Calcium

If pregnant women do not have the recommended 1000 mg of calcium per day, the fetus will rob the mother's bones and teeth of this nutrient. Additionally, calcium deficiency during pregnancy is also associated with circulatory, muscle, and nervous system problems. The developing fetus also needs calcium for bone development.3.5

Vitamin D

The Vitamin D Council recommends that expectant mothers have 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily in order to avoid birth complications. The fetus also needs this nutrient to develop strong bones and teeth.3,5,6

Iron

The RDI for iron during pregnancy is 27 mg, which is double that needed by women who are not pregnant. The reason for this significant increase is that not only does the blood volume of expecting mothers double during pregnancy, but they also have to produce the blood supply for the growing fetus. 3, 4, 5

Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

The RDI of 1.4 mg for riboflavin is 27 percent higher during pregnancy than at any other time during a woman’s life. Pregnant women who develop a biotin deficiency are 4.7 times more likely to develop pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure and protein in the urine) and 5 percent of these women progress to fatal eclampsia.3

Biotin (vitamin B7)

Even though the RDI for biotin (30 mcg/day) is the same for future moms and women who are not pregnant, 30 percent of women develop a biotin deficiency while they are carrying their child. The developing fetus uses a significant amount of this vitamin for producing new cells and protein. Biotin is also necessary for healthy immune functioning for the mother and the newborn child.3

Vitamin A

The RDI for vitamin A during pregnancy is 2567 IU per day. This nutrient is essential for fetal cell growth, correct gene expression, and the development of healthy eyes, ears, limbs, and immune system. Vitamin A deficiency puts the expectant mother at risk for anemia.3

Omega 3 fatty acids

The recommended intake for omega 3 fatty acids during pregnancy is 1.4 grams per day. This nutrient is essential for the development of the fetus’s central nervous system, as well as to prevent premature birth and low birth weight. Additionally, an Australian study found that the children whose mothers took omega 3 supplements during pregnancy scored higher on eye-hand coordination tests than children whose mothers did not take this supplement.7,8,9

Should you take supplements while breastfeeding?

When a new mom starts breastfeeding her newborn baby, her nutritional needs increase even more compared to when she was pregnant. Even though she needs 500 more calories than women who are not lactating, her nutritional needs are greater than what she can get from her diet alone. In the event a woman does not get the nutrients she needs, her body will strip what is needed from her system to produce breast milk.

Essential nutrients during lactation

Some women continue to take their prenatal supplements while they are breastfeeding, thinking they are getting all the vitamins and minerals they need. The reality is that they are not. In fact, there are significant differences in the micronutrients needs of expectant and breastfeeding mothers. For example, breastfeeding moms need 50 percent less iron than non-lactating women.10 On the other hand, their need for iodine goes up by 90 percent to support their child’s thyroid and nervous system development.11,12

Some other examples of the other essential micronutrients needed by breast feeding mothers include:

B vitamins

If a mother develops deficiencies in these nutrients, she is putting her child at risk for impairments in brain development, neurological disorders, and anemia.11

Vitamin A

A women needs 4333 IU of vitamin A when breastfeeding, which is 86 percent more than what she needs at other times of her life. Her child needs this nutrient for healthy eye development, as well as to decrease the risk of stunted growth, infection, and poor appetite.13,14

You can find the complete list of micronutrients you need while pregnant and lactating in the table below. The "difference" column indicates how much higher or lower the vitamin needs of pregnant or lactating women are, compared to when they are not pregnant.

Table 2: RDIs for Pregnant and Lactating Women
Nutrient Unit Not Pregnant Pregnant Difference Lactating Difference
Vitamin A IU 2333 2567 10% 4333 86%
Vitamin C mg 75 85 13% 120 60%
Vitamin D IU 600 600 0% 600 0%
Vitamin E IU 22 22 0% 28 27%
Vitamin K mcg 90 90 0% 90 0%
Thiamin mg 1.1 1.4 27% 1.4 27%
Riboflavin mg 1.1 1.4 27% 1.6 45%
Niacin mg 14 18 29% 17 21%
Vitamin B6 mg 1.3 1.9 46% 2 54%
Folate mcg 400 600 50% 500 25%
Vitamin B12 mcg 2.4 2.6 8% 2.8 17%
Panto. Acid mg 5 6 20% 7 40%
Biotin mcg 30 30 0% 35 17%
Calcium mg 1000 1000 0% 1000 0%
Chromium mcg 25 30 20% 45 80%
Copper mcg 900 1000 11% 1300 44%
Iodine mcg 150 220 47% 290 93%
Iron mg 18 27 50% 9 -50%
Magnesium mg 320 350 9% 310 -3%
Manganese mg 1.8 2 11% 2.6 44%
Molybdenum mcg 45 50 11% 50 11%
Selenium mcg 55 60 9% 70 27%
Zinc mg 8 11 38% 12 50%
Potassium g 4.7 4.7 0% 5.1 9%

Choosing a supplement

Given the importance of sound nutrition for both pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, it is essential that you select a high quality supplement. Table1 presented above provides a good summary of the best prenatal vitamin supplements available on the market today.

References

1 The U.S. National Library of Medicine Eating right during pregnancy
2 The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Use of dietary supplements by pregnant and lactating women
3 Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Needs During Pregnancy and Lactation
4 United States Department of Agriculture Why take a prenatal supplement?
5 The Mayo Clinic Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients
6 Vitamin D Council Vitamin D during pregnancy and breastfeeding
7 Linus Pauling Institute Essential Fatty Acids: Intake Recommendations
8 Reviews in Obstetrics and Gynecology Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation During Pregnancy
9 American College of Nurse-Midwives Omega-3 Fatty Acids During Pregnancy
10 Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Needs During Pregnancy and Lactation
11 US National Library of Medicine Iodine nutrition and breast feeding
12 Science Daily Critical need for iodine supplements during pregnancy and while nursing
13 Pacific Health Dialog Vitamin A in Breast Milk
14 Rehydration Project Breastmilk: A Critical Source of Vitamin A for Infants and Young Children

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