THE BEST Over the Counter Prenatal Vitamin – A Comparison of 11 Pills

Babies are in my future (no, I’m not pregnant…yet) and everyone knows once you start popping those suckers out, you lose the ability to be quite so selfish with your time and money. For just that reason, Ryan decided that 2018 would be the year we go nuts traveling and skiing our faces off. And holy moly, have we done just that this winter!

But – this post isn’t about skiing.

Or traveling.

It’s about Prenatal Vitamins.

What?

Yes – I said it. Prenatal Vitamins.

When I get an idea in my head, I like to do A LOT of research. Even if the research (in this case, having babies) doesn’t apply directly to me at this point in my life (and probably won’t for several months to come). I want to be educated (right now!) on things that could potentially affect me down the line. The idea is that I gather all relevant data (as well as create a cost analysis spreadsheet…obviously) to have at the ready for when we decide it’s time to pull the trigger.

So, I compared 11 of the TOP Prenatals on the market today. Keep reading to find out which Prenatal is my personal TOP CHOICE for baby mommas everywhere.

best prenatal vitamin, carrie tyler

Practicing my parental skills with Baby Elodie

Where to Start: Personal Preference

I made a little checklist to narrow down a list of possibilities for my prenatal vitamin. Everyone is different, but I think it is important to note my determinations so you can understand why I chose various brands:

  • Ingredients: Make sure it has the recommended daily amount (RDA) of all nutrients (see below).
  • Do I care about artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives? Not really (sorry, health nuts).
  • Do I have allergies? Yes, sensitivity to wheat and dairy. I’m going to go gluten free and dairy free on the vitamin to be safe.
  • How many times a day will I remember to take it? Some prenatals need to be taken 3x/daily. One time, let’s be real.
  • Do I want a pill or a gummy? Pill, definitely. Gummies often have added sugars.
  • Is a horse pill okay for me, or do I need easy-to-swallow sized pills? Gimme the biggest pill they got! I don’t have issues here.
  • Review the side effects (constipation, nausea?): I get nauseous if I take pills without food. If I experience negative side effects even with food, trial and error, people!
  • Does price matter? To some extent, yes. I am willing to pay a small premium for a pill that has what I’m looking for – but not to extravagance.

The Difference: Prenatal vs. Regular Vitamins

The main difference between prenatals and regular vitamins is that regular vitamins meet your daily needs as your regular self, whereas prenatal vitamins help meet your superhero needs as a baby momma.  Prenatals give your body some extra nutrients (according to a recommended daily amount (aka RDA)) to help boost your baby’s growth.

best prenatal vitamin, carrie tyler

It takes a village (Pictured with Baby Caylee)

But — while most contain the RDA, not all prenatals are created equal. Some contain different dosages of ingredients, others contain animal products, some are gluten-free, some are raw… the list goes on. Seriously, INFORMATION OVERLOAD.

Most Important Prenatal Vitamin Ingredients

Don’t freak out – I’ll help break down the most important things you need to be getting from your prenatal of choice. Some of the most important key ingredients are below:

Folic Acid / Folate [and the difference between the two]

400 micrograms (mcg)

A huge difference between a normal daily multivitamin and your prenatal is going to be the level of folic acid/folate (AKA vitamin B-9). Folic acid/folate reduces the risk of your baby developing neural tube and spinal cord defects.

Some prenatals highlight the difference between FOLIC ACID and FOLATE.

  • FOLATE is the naturally occurring form of vitamin B-9.
  • FOLIC ACID is the synthetic version of vitamin B-9.

Prenatals with folate seem to be better for your health and easier to digest. There is some research that’s found un-metabolized folic acid (often added as a supplement to processed foods) in the human body even after fasting. This is bad because un-metabolized folic acid has been linked to bad things like cancer. No, thank you. 

Either way, this is all very confusing because places like Whole Foods (which I love and trust) suggest the Rainbow Light Prenatal One Vitamin which contains folic acid. My figuring is this: Coffee, butter and wine have all gone through the wringer. One day it’s good for us, another day it causes internal alien mutations. So pick your poison.

is wine good or bad for you, carrie tyler

Conflicting studies on whether red wine is good for us lead me to believe it has to be, because it is so yummy.

Iron

17-27 milligrams (mg)

You’re creating a little person inside of you and that baby has blood. Iron is necessary for making hemoglobin for blood, and it also helps in the process of forming red blood cells/preventing anemia.

Calcium

200 to 300 milligrams (mg) 

The little person inside of you will also have bones which require calcium to grow strong.

Iodine

150 micrograms (mcg)

If you want your baby to be the smartest on the block, remember to take your iodine. Iodine helps with brain and nervous system development. It also helps manage your own nervous system as well as your hormones and thyroid.

DHA (Omega 3)

300-400 mg 

Often, DHA (AKA fish oil) is found in a separate pill from your prenatal vitamin. It is s impossible to get enough DHA from your diet alone and is very important for several reasons. DHA may reduce postpartum risk, may prevent allergies and also potentially decrease the odds of a premature delivery.

Most sites suggest Nordic Naturals DHA as the most safe and pure form of this nutrient. Nordic has a few forms of the pill: a basic DHA as well as Prenatal DHA. The Prenatal DHA contains Vitamin D3 while the basic DHA contains rosemary. My initial thought is that our prenatal vitamin of choice will likely already have enough Vitamin D, so why choose the prenatal version over standard DHA? Rosemary. Women should be careful when consuming rosemary, because it is considered possibly unsafe when used orally in medicinal amounts during pregnancy.

 

best prenatal vitamin, carrie tyler

Ryan practicing with Baby Sloane

WHEN to Start Poppin’ Prenatals

Now that we’ve gone over the billion vitamins and nutrients you need to remember to take when pregnant, it’s time to talk about WHEN to start taking them.

I emailed my OBGYN and told her about Ryan and my multiple planned trips to Mexico this year (Zika is no joke) and wanted to know how long we should wait post-vacation before “trying”… as well as when to get on the Prenatal vitamins train. My OBGYN responded:

Eight weeks [upon returning from Mexico] should be perfect in terms of timing. Try to conceive for 6 months. Eat normal, exercise normal. Start prenatal vitamins as you are trying.

My online research suggests that you should actually start poppin’ the prenatals 3 MONTHS BEFORE you begin trying. Why? Apparently, a little baby egg can start to mature about 3 months before it’s released and the prenatal nutrients are very important in those early stages.

Sounds about right. So, I’m going with that logic. 3 months prior to baby-making, it is! Thanks OBGYN, but I’d rather be overzealous on this nutrient thing than not.

Comparing 11 Different Prenatal Vitamins

11 Prenatal Vitamin Comparison

What I didn’t find online was a clear comparison of the most popular prenatals and how they are different. So, I assessed what I consider to be the important factors when choosing my pill. Note: I did not include gummy vitamins.

See below for a clear comparison of 11 of the top Prenatal Vitamins on the market as of 2018:

(scroll right for full chart)

BrandMeets RDA for Nutrients?Folate/Folic Acid?DHA?Organic?Vegetarian?Vegan?Gluten Free?Dairy Free?AllergensBottle CountPill/DayTotal Amazon $$/day
Deva Vegan PrenatalLow Calcium, could have more ironFolic AcidunclearNoYesYesYesYes901$11.50$0.13
Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw PrenatalLow Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, ZincFolateNoYesYesYesYesYesSoy (fermented)1803 $46.19$0.77
MegaFood Baby & Me Pre & Post Natal Dietary SupplementsLow IronFolateNoYesYesNoYesYes1204$33.23$1.11
Nature Made Prenatal Multi + DHA Liquid SoftgelsLow CalciumFolic AcidYesNoNoNoYesNoSoy1501 $42.99$0.29
New Chapter Perfect Prenatal MultivitaminLow vitamin C, Calcium, ironFolateNoYesYesYesYesYesSoy&Wheat (fermented)1923$58.62$0.95
One a Day Women's Prenatal 1 with DHA & Folic AcidLow Vitamin C, Not enough DHA (200)Folic AcidYesNoNoNoYesYes602$17.00$0.28
Pranin Organic Mom’s PureFood A to Z VitaminsLow almost all RDAFolateNoYesYesYesYesYes30Powder$90.00$3.00
Rainbow Light Prenatal One Food-Based MultivitaminLow CalciumFolic AcidNoNoYesYesYesYes1501$41.91$0.28
Similac Prenatal VitaminYesFolic AcidYesNoNoNoNoNoSoy1802$35.00$0.39
Spring Valley Prenatal Multivitamin/Multimineral with Folic AcidNo IodineFolic AcidNoNoNoNoYesYesSoy1001$8.97$0.09
The Honest Company Whole-Food Based PrenatalLow Vitamin CFolateNoNoNoNoYesYes903$31.90$1.06

Immediately, I can remove a few of these from my personal preference list:

  • Similac contains gluten, and I have a gluten sensitivity, so that’s gone.
  • Baby & Me, Garden of Life, New Chapter, The Honest Company and Pranin Brands are over $0.75/day which seems excessive based on the high quality of the other less expensive choices.
  • I prefer not to have excess soy in my diet (unsure of the studies suggesting connections to cancer), which eliminates Spring Valley and Nature Made.
  • One a Day Women’s Prenatal contains DHA which is a positive, but not nearly the recommended amount of DHA needed for pregnant women. I’d need to take a separate DHA pill to ensure I get enough,  so I’m going to eliminate this option.

We’re down to 2 choices… and this is where it gets difficult. I chose a few nutrients to compare in the 2 remaining pills. At the surface, both meet most of the same requirements for a prenatal, but in digging a little deeper, there are some slight variations.

Brand/NutrientA (mcg)C (mg)Folic Acid/Folate (mcg)B12 (mcg)Biotin (mcg)Calcium (mg)Iron (mg)Iodine (mcg)Zinc (mg)
Recommended Amount (RDA)<150085400335200-3002722013
Deva Vegan Prenatal37501205501001501202115015
Rainbow Light Prenatal One Food-Based Multivitamin130565600935502729013

The remaining 2 remaining pills contain folic acid instead of folate. Unless I have the MTHFR defect, a defect which makes it harder for your body to covert folic acid, I’m not sure I need to be too worried about this. Nevertheless, it bugs me and I will be verifying with my OBGYN to ensure I’m good to go on the folic acid front.

I found that Deva is extremely high (maybe too high) in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B12 and Biotin. What worries me most is the high dosage of Vitamin A. The Linus Pauling Institute states that high doses of vitamin A during early pregnancy can cause birth defects and that pregnant women should avoid prenatal supplements containing more than 1,500 mcg of vitamin A. Deva contains a whopping 3,750 mcg! That’s off the list – not worth the risk.

Regarding Rainbow Light, it seems I may need additional calcium. I am fine taking a supplement, or adding calcium to my diet, rather than risking an overdose on potentially harmful nutrients as with Deva.

OVERALL TOP PRENATAL VITAMIN:

Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin

best prenatal vitamin, rainbow light, carrie tyler

And then there was one… My top choice Prenatal Vitamin: Rainbow Light Prenatal One

The Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin has proven itself to be the best over the counter prenatal vitamin overall. It meets the RDA for all nutrients required during pregnancy. Calcium could be higher, but I plan to follow a healthy diet and/or take another supplement. The vitamin is vegan and gluten-free and made with natural ingredients. Whole Foods trusts the brand and maintains that Rainbow Light is their favorite prenatal of the brands sold in store. Oh, and the price is right at $.028/day, which is the 4th lowest price of the compared vitamins.

You can buy this prenatal multivitamin at several stores. See below for current pricing:

Amazon for $41.91

Thrive Market for $41.99

RainbowLight.com for $60.00

I hope my research helps with your own hunt for the right prenatal for your body! If you have any personal experiences with the prenatals and DHA pills mentioned in this post, please feel free to comment and share! New messages make me smile!

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7 Comments

  1. Marganne
    April 10, 2018 / 11:05 am

    So informative!! Definitely book marking this for when baby making time comes for me! thanks for doing the research for me 🙂

    • Carrie Tyler
      Author
      April 10, 2018 / 12:43 pm

      Amen sister! It was so interesting looking this up. And selfishly, I wanted to write down the research so I could refer to it later, too! hehe…

  2. Karin
    April 10, 2018 / 12:36 pm

    From your mother: Hmmmm!!??!@&:?!!???????

    • Carrie Tyler
      Author
      April 10, 2018 / 12:41 pm

      Haha, hello mother… no, not yet…

  3. Breezy Musick
    April 27, 2018 / 1:40 pm

    hahahaha i love that your mom responded above.

    LOVE this post. Glad I chose the same as you! thank you for all of the research!

    • Carrie Tyler
      Author
      April 27, 2018 / 1:48 pm

      Hahaha right?! She’s waiting patiently…

  4. November 15, 2019 / 1:54 pm

    Great research Carrie. Wondering if you have a list of Nutrients for all 11-Prenatal listed above? I am a bit confused about the correlation between the table 1 to table 2? I understand your rationale for Gluten etc. driving your decision. However, I thought to ask if you compared nutrients in all as well?
    Isabelle recently posted…Introducing myGluxus® Health AppMy Profile

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