I hope you’ll agree with me when I say:
Eating healthy and balanced diet has always been a key during pregnancy.
But even if you're following strictly the food pyramid guidelines to a “tee” every day, it’s highly possible you come up short on key vitamins and nutrients.
Consuming the right vitamin supplements on a daily basis can make this whole endeavor a lot easier for you and at the same time ensure a perfect fetal development.
Use our buying guide to understand why prenatal vitamins are important and how to find the best over the counter prenatal vitamins for you and your baby.
What’re the Over the Counter Prenatal Vitamins?
Over-the-counter prenatal vitamins are widely available and can be found in any pharmacy. These are special formulations containing a number of minerals and vitamins needed to support the baby, as well as the mother’s health. They are calibrated exactly for the needs of pregnant women.
Through diet alone it is often too difficult to obtain all the needed nutrients these days. Folic acid and Iron are never missing from the said products, as these are required in larger quantities by pregnant women.
OTC formulations are usually safe for anyone. Unlike their prescription counterparts, these have smaller doses or concentrations per micronutrient. This aspect does not make them inefficient, however.
What separates the OTC range from the rest is also the addition of herbal ingredients. If you are unsure of what effect a certain herb will have on you, or are intolerant to it, you could be better off with a prescription version.
Countless manufacturers produce prenatal vitamins to be sold over the counter. These are not as closely regulated as the less easily available ones. It could be an issue unless you learn how to make a thorough selection and pick a trustworthy brand.
Once you do, you will enjoy the benefits, including a price you can afford. The even better news is that anyone can purchase such vitamins, whether they have an insurance or not.
Apart from the many brand on the market and the different recipes, prenatal vitamins also come in varied forms: capsules, pills, syrup, gummies, tablets. One can choose whatever feels best for them for daily consumption.
5 Best Over the Counter Prenatal Vitamins Reviews 2018
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Prenatal, 180 Capsules is the perfect choice for those who are looking for the top-rated prenatal vitamin. As a pregnant woman, you want nothing but the best for your unborn child and so does Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal.
This prenatal drug is designed to meet every pregnant woman needs not only during pre-conception, but also during pregnancy and lactation. Most importantly, the Garden of Life Vitamin Code Prenatal, 180 Capsules is raw, dairy free and gluten free.
There are many benefits that come with features of this drug. But the main aim of this formula is to provide immune system for both the baby and the mother, during pregnancy and also after birth.
The Garden of Life Vitamin Code, 180 Capsules supports the elimination and healthy digestion with Ginger, Probiotics, Vitamin D as well as Zinc.
The vitamins also support blood and heart health with iron, Vitamin E, C, and B complex as well as foliate. In addition, it promotes healthy neural tube development using 800mcg of foliate.
It also ensures that the skin of both the mother and the unborn baby are health. It comes with both Vitamin C and A, Iron and also Copper.
The vitamin has no side effects. However, if it is accidental overdosed, it can cause damage to children under the age of 6. Keep away from children.
Things We Liked
- More natural than other vitamins.
- No Artificial Ingredients or Fillers.
- Easy on the stomach.
- Great customer service.
Things We Didn't Like
- Requires you take 3 capsules daily.
This is certainly the best organic prenatal multivitamin on the market. The multi vitamin is made with herbs and organic vegetables.
New Chapter Prenatal Vitamin Fermented is more than a food supplement, as it is cultured with beneficial live probiotics.
This product ensures that the mother has a healthy pregnancy and also supports fetal development. Both the cultured whole foods and organic herbs work together to ensure that your baby doesn’t lack the essential nutrients needed for growth.
Furthermore, it doesn’t address nutrients alone but comes with a bunch of other health benefits.
In addition, it also includes targeted levels of whole food foliate which is designed to nourish both the baby and the mother. It also features a prenatal herbal blend which is extremely safe for pregnancy.
The herbal blend is a perfect combination of class 1 herbs and whole foods. The class 1 herbs are made of live probiotics that help to support pregnancy.
It also supports a pregnant woman’s breasts and hormones. It contains a blend of organic kale, broccoli as well as other organic cruciferous sprouts to ensure the estrogen metabolism is healthy and the breasts are healthy as well.
Before using this product, make sure you talk to your physician for proper guidance.
Things We Liked
- Natural and organic ingredients.
- Contain probiotic's.
- No nausea.
- Easy to swallow.
Things We Didn't Like
- More expensive than other vitamins.
- Have to take them three times a day.
The Nested Naturals Prenatal Multivitamin gives you potent minerals and vitamins in a base of food extracts that support mother’s nutrition and energy, and the unborn baby’s healthy development, with a single tablet per day.
Probiotics, ginger juice as well as plant-source enzymes support absorption and digestion and prevent stomach upset.
In addition, the Nested Naturals Prenatal Multivitamin is 100 percent vegetarian, vegan and natural, and doesn’t contain animal ingredients in any stage of the production process.
This prenatal multivitamin is also gluten free, and doesn’t contain ingredients such as shellfish or fish, nuts, eggs, yeas, milk or soy. It also does not contain lactose or any artificial color, sweeteners or flavors, additives or preservatives.
This vitamin contains vital nutrients in quantities that deliver maximum nourishment and protection for the mother and the baby, during pregnancy and after birth.
It contains vitamin D2 which has the 400 IU which helps to promote healthy teeth and bones plus 4000 IU of vitamin A and 100mg of vitamin C to support eye, skin and immune health. It also features 800mcg of folic acid. Folic acid is critical preventing neural tube defects.
Other ingredients in the multivitamin include vegetable source or natural mineral, cellulose, microcrystalline, stearic acid, silica, modified cellulose and vegetable food glaze.
So far there have been no cases on the negative effects of this multivitamin. So if you are looking for top rated prenatal vitamin formula, consider purchasing this one.
Things We Liked
- Organic ingredients and probiotics.
- Requires you take one pill daily.
- Easy to digest, no stomach issues.
- No side effects.
Things We Didn't Like
- A bit bigger than most.
- Distinct smell.
Are you looking for best prenatal vitamin with dha to meet your nutrient needs during pregnancy and after birth? Then Nature Made PrenatalMulti + DHA 200 Mg Softgels, Value Size is the safest vitamin you could get on the market.
The manufacturers of this vitamin know the importance of a healthy pregnancy as well as a safe baby’s development.
It gives you and your unborn angel important minerals and vitamins for nutritional support during your pregnancy such as iron and folic, not forgetting 200 grams of dha omega 3 fatty acid in a single softgels.
Nature Made PrenatalMulti + is medically proven to ensure absorption of vital nutrients. It is made from essential ingredients under strict supervision during the manufacturing processes.
The DHA component in the softgels helps support fetal eye and brain development. The folic acid reduces pregnant woman’s risk of giving birth to a baby with a neural tube defect. Iron is required in the formation of red blood cells. It is also an important part of hemoglobin.
Hemoglobin is a protein compound that helps the blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
The softgels also features Vitamin D3 and Calcium which help to build and support bones.
Studies have shown that the ingestion of more than three grams of omega 3 on a daily basis has antithrombotic effect as well as increased bleeding time. Patients on anticoagulants should not use this product.
Things We Liked
- They contain DHA and iron, so you only have to take one pill.
- Requires you take one pill daily.
- Easy to digest.
- No aftertaste or sick feeling after taking these.
Things We Didn't Like
- Fishy smell.
- They can contribute to your nausea like all vitamins.
The Natrogix 180 Tablets Prenatal Daily Multivitamins has all the nutrients that are important for the health of the expectant mother and also the health of the unborn baby.
What makes this product the best organic prenatal multivitamin is that, it gives the best possible protection for your baby at the start of his or her life.
This organic multivitamin prevents and inhibits birth defects. It features 800mcg of folic acid.
The Folic acid is crucial as it prevents neural tube defects such as spina bifida, which affects the spine, ancephalocele-which affects the skulls and anencephaly- a condition that affects the brain, and finally anencephaly, which is a condition that damages the neck.
Every year, more than 30000 births are affected by the neural tube defects, so it is crucial to give your baby the best protection available.
You will love this multivitamin because it is purely organic and 100 percent natural. This product is effective and safe to use as it contains no sugar, artificial preservatives, gluten or any other additives that might cause allergic reactions or negative side effects on you and your baby.
Natrogix 180 Tablets Prenatal Daily Multivitamins is 100 percent safe. It contains organic, natural and effective combination of reliable natural ingredients that are professionally process and manufactured in a GMP and FDA approved lab.
So, you don’t have to worry about any side effects on you or your baby. You search for the best organic prenatal multivitamin is finally over.
Things We Liked
- 100% Natural and Organic.
- Smaller than average pill.
- No noticeable aftertaste.
- Good price for quantity.
Things We Didn't Like
- Hard to swallow for some.
Why Take a Prenatal Vitamin?
Preparing for a pregnancy means getting your body ready to face the upcoming changes, the new processes and the extra effort of conceiving and carrying a baby. You will need to double your strength.
First and foremost, a woman needs to help herself become truly fertile, as infertility is a widespread issue nowadays. This is the first stage to be achieved through medical (hormonal) treatments, a healthy lifestyle and vitamin supplementation.
Then, you will have to make sure your body has that little extra of everything it needs to support a new life forming within. The problem is, people rarely have enough nutrients for themselves. It’s not about calories, as some wrongly assume, but about electrolytes and other precious elements that make up our organs and all the tissues.
You’ll be going through numerous changes while expecting a child. The hormonal makeup will be vastly different and this involves countless elements you may not be getting from your diet.
Ideally, the best form of nutrition comes from the food you ingest. It is up to your doctor and to yourself to figure out if your diet is healthy/unhealthy, balanced or unbalanced.
The more junk or processed foods you eat, the harder it will be for your body to get good quality nutrients like minerals and vitamins, along with healthy fats. Now would be the right time to switch towards a more natural diet.
Even if you are already committed to a healthy diet, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a deficiency. This occurs because it is often difficult to have a diet so varied that no key nutrient is missing.
You may be stocking on fresh organic produce, but variety is essential and it’s impossible to guarantee that you’re getting everything you need. Therefore, supplementation is a must.
How to Choose the Best Over the Counter Prenatal Vitamins?
- What are you missing?
First and foremost, you should focus on the nutrients missing in your diet. Then, look for the most appropriate formulation.
Your best bet is to purchase natural prenatal vitamins, since these are extracted from natural, organic sources and provide nutrients in forms that are easy to absorb. Be honest to your doctor if you wish to get the best advice on supplementing.
Never conceal your diet habits. Let them know if you are vegetarian or vegan.
- Must-have nutrients
There are certain elements that cannot be missing when you are hoping to get pregnant. The high-quality prenatal vitamins are the ones containing Calcium, Iron and Folic acid (Vitamin B9), since these are always calling for supplementation. The latter must be in a concentration of at least 600 mcg to prevent neural tube flaws during the baby's development.
For Calcium, a dose of 150 mg is seen as ideal. It will help your baby's bones grow and keep yours in good shape. To avoid anemia, get about 27 mg of Iron. Copper is important too for women, as well as the usual vitamins your body needs – A, C, D and E.
Also, because of stress, poor diet and pregnancy, there may be a Zinc deficiency. Make sure you have this element in the mix, as it's got a role in many bodily functions and will also prevent your hair from thinning and falling.
- Iodine – yes or no?
Iodine represents a controversial topic. In many countries there is no chance of a deficiency, due to iodine being added to salt. When this isn't the case, it's essential to supplement via one of these vitamin formulations.
Americans tend to be iodine deficient. A supplement should then provide you with 150 mcg. If you can't find any such product or it is not right for you, then you can buy iodized salt.
- Omega-3 supplementation and ingredient purity
Essential fatty acids are vital to fetus brain development. Unless you're eating plenty of fatty oceanic fish, you could have a deficiency. Therefore, you may or may not need these. Omega-3 fatty acids have a main role in fetal brain development.
There are more types of such acids, but two are of top importance. DHA is one of these and it comes from fish oil. The best prenatal vitamins with DHA and EPA (from Omega-3 as well) are made with high purity ingredients.
Various tests were carried out to evaluate ingredient purity and the results can be found on the Internet. The higher the purity, the more efficient the product is.
- Does the brand matter?
It goes without saying, you should pick a brand with a history behind it, as well as genuine success stories from consumers. The brand's products must be well tested by competent authorities.
Still, you have plenty of such trustworthy brand around, how are you going to pick one? The solution is simple: don't try to choose a brand, but a formulation.
Consult your doctor and see which ingredients your system is craving for, then find out the appropriate concentration. Choose your multivitamin supplement based on this.
You might need a smaller or a higher dose of a certain nutrient. Supplements you can trust will have the seal of approval of independent groups like: NSF International, Consumer Lab or the United States Pharmacopeia.
- Which one is more palatable?
You'll have to figure out in which form you want to have your vitamins. Besides the regular pills and capsules of different sizes, there are chewable ones, too.
Go for the gummy type if you like that. Many women develop a preference for the liquid supplements, which are the easiest to deal with as long as the taste is pleasant.
- The truth about high numbers
Certain supplements show high doses of certain mineral or vitamins. This isn't always beneficial. In most cases, we are dealing with a synthetic form of a vitamin. Too much of it can be toxic. Such is the case with Vitamin A.
In other cases, the synthetic form is simply inefficient so it's not doing much to you. However, not all vitamins in excess are harmful. E, B6 (Health Risks from Excessive Vitamin B6) and B12 do not harm when in excess.
What Are the Common Side Effects?
The most common complaint is nausea. It occurs especially when the vitamin are taken on an empty stomach. When the product contains too much iron, the result is constipation or stomach upset.
A healthcare provider will either change the supplement brand or advise on methods to counteract these effects. Also, a darkened stool is a sign of iron presence and is considered normal.
Most troubles tend to arise because of overdosing. This is why it’s important to maintain the recommended dosage.
Also, interactions are possible, in case you are taking other supplements, no matter how natural or harmless. For more info on how to prevent your vitamins from making you feel sick, read below.
Severe side effects only occur in rare cases.
Should you be vomiting, dealing with any rash or hives, or experience any other allergy symptoms, you must seek medical help as soon as you can. One should take into account the possible interactions. In addition, taking vitamins is no substitute to a healthy lifestyle.
When Should I Start Taking Prenatal Vitamins?
As mentioned in the beginning of this guide, a pregnancy can go unnoticed in its first month. There are hardly any signs of it.
This represents a critical time for the baby, though. It is when the neurotube is formed, which will grow to be the baby’s brain and spine. You wouldn’t want to risk malformations or other issues concerning those.
This is why it is important to begin supplementing right as you plan on getting pregnant. It will help you become more fertile as well. Women who take vitamins before conception have an easy pregnancy and give birth to healthy babies.
There is no fixed period ahead of conception; it’s best to consult your doctor and decide together, take blood tests and see which gaps need to be filled.
This approach ensures that your body is ready for the pregnancy and all the changes it brings with it. When fecundation occurs, the body needs to be able to keep the fertilized egg and support the pregnancy.
Benefits of Taking Over the Counter Prenatal Vitamins
The fact that prenatal vitamin formulations exist is no marketing trick. Nowadays we do have numerous innovations we don’t really need, but this isn’t one of them. The benefits are real in this case.
A prenatal formula has its own, unique features and it’s better to take advantage than to go without it; you would risk too much. See the main list of benefits here:
- You get a formula that is meant specifically for pregnancy.
- All the specific nutrient deficiencies are being covered (Iron, Calcium, Folic acid etc.).
- You take the optimal dosage.
- The side effects are rare.
- You can buy them over the counter.
- You may choose between countless brands and pay an affordable price.
- You get to balance a faulty diet.
- Nausea is eliminated or reduced.
- Birth defects risks are reduced.
- Fertility is increased, as the body's ability to keep a pregnancy.
- Your body won't have to extract calcium for the baby from your own bones and teeth.
- You feel better overall.
Are All Prenatal Vitamins the Same?
The short answer is no.
To develop on this, it can be said that prenatal vitamins have various formulations and one needs to pick the one that contains that which is lacking in their diet.
For example, if you tend to eat plenty of oceanic fish, you won’t need to supplement with Omega-3 fatty acids. If you have anemia, you will require more folic acid or iron. If you don’t usually eat fresh fruit and greens, you may need some extra Vitamin C.
Also, keep in mind to check the ingredient sources carefully (natural or synthetic) and concentration for each of these. Depending on the brand, some may have more of a certain nutrient, while others deliver less.
All these numbers matter.
Apart from the basics, the other ingredients tend to vary considerably if you observe a large batch of different products in this range. Some brands enrich their products with herbal extracts but many of these can be incompatible with your body.
Each person is different so you will never know. The best approach would be to opt for a trustworthy brand, once you know your exact requirements.
Be aware of what you can tolerate or not.
Does Your Prenatal Vitamin Make You Nauseous?
Prenatal vitamins should make the typical pregnancy nausea go away.
However, drug interactions or overdosing may lead to nausea on their own, or the simple presence of folic acid and iron. The same happens when you take them on an empty stomach.
When the iron content is the cause, switch to a lower dose, since iron tends to be hard on the stomach. Or, you may want a formula without it and rely solely on food sources.
Remember to drink enough water with each dose, as well as throughout the day. Avoid taking the pills in the morning if you feel they’re making you ill.
Always consume your vitamins with some food.
To certain women, it helps when they postpone vitamin time until the evening. Thus, the dinner acts as a good buffer and daytime activities are no longer disturbed by nausea.
Do Prenatal Vitamins Help You Get Pregnant?
Prenatal vitamins are an advanced form of adequate nutrition for the pregnancy stage. It makes your body able to support new life and ensure the proper development of the unborn baby.
This ‘diet improvement‘ can surely have extra benefits as well. Overall, it will make your body healthier and manage its processes better.
This can regulate many of its functions, including the hormonal ones. In consequence, certain infertility factors may be addressed successfully.
Infertility is the result of a whole series of factors, from stress to pollution and to a flawed diet. Ovary cysts and other ailments may cause infertility, too.
The causes are complex. As you get to balance your bodily functions through a smarter diet and supplementation, it is empowered to correct its ailments.
This may result in a newly gained or improved fertility. If you start taking vitamins, you might just find it a lot easier to conceive, not to mention that the baby will not be missing on any of the vital nutrients.
Can They Make You Sick?
A good mineral and vitamin formula won’t make you sick per se, but can trigger unpleasant symptoms. This happens when you’re not taking the correct dosage or when certain elements are clashing and should not be taken together.
As previously mentioned, vitamin and mineral products containing folic acid (B6) and iron frequently happen to cause stomach upset and nausea. This is a common reaction but cannot be defined as sickness. Adjusting the dose and taking the pills with food usually help eliminate the symptoms.
If your stomach is simply too sensitive to iron, then you may change your supplement with one that is iron-free. To ensure you’re still getting this important element, then opt for an additional product which is adequately coated, so that the iron content is absorbed in the intestines instead of the stomach.
Never go beyond the recommended amount. No matter how healthy the concoction may be or how deficient you are, a too large quantity can prove to be toxic; do not jeopardize your health by over indulging or trying to compensate for a deficiency.
Even a highly beneficial compound like Vitamin A is no good when overdosed. The body cannot always manage the excess in a proper manner.
Can You Take Them if You’re not Pregnant?
Many women hear of the proven benefits of prenatal vitamins and consider it’s a good idea to consume these even when not pregnant – what could go wrong, after all?
However, this approach is ignoring a most important fact about these products: that the mixes and quantities are especially made for pregnancy and its particular requirements. The nutrients are used by both the mother’s body and by the new one being formed inside the womb.
This is not the case with females who aren’t carrying a baby. Sure, vitamins can be taken before a pregnancy, but it is assumed that there will eventually be one, soon enough. It’s like a preparation for the upcoming effort.
What can be the harm, though? you may ask. It’s in the aforementioned quantities. If you ingest more than your body needs (of a certain substance), then it may be toxic or make you feel sick.
You will get to experience side effects and won’t know where these have come from. It is only logical: you’re “eating for two” when you’re pregnant, but you shouldn’t do that when you’re not, unless you want to gain a lot of extra weight.
Then why would anyone take more vitamins than needed? Most of these are either flushed out or create toxicity within.
There are real benefits to taking prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements. Although it may seem difficult to make a choice, a correct assessment of your health and nutritional needs will eventually point out to the most appropriate formulation. Prenatal products have a well defined role: to ensure the much needed optimal nutrition to a body that needs to provide for two.
Because of the present-day poor quality foods, an expecting mother may not have enough vital nutrients for the fetus to develop properly. Supplementing helps avoid birth defects and also makes the mother healthier, more energetic and able to cope with the changes in her life.
Shopping knowledge, as well as medical tests are absolutely essential when selecting a vitamin product. Use as much information as you can in making your decision, or simply let your physician decide, after a thorough assessment.
Once you start taking your supplement regularly, your body becomes more able to cope and to ensure the necessary nutrition for two beings. To do the best you can, start before conception.