Best Over The Counter Prenatal Vitamins Of 2017

It doesn't matter if it is your first pregnancy or fifth; instinctively you only want the best for your child, especially where their health is concerned.

Taking over-the-counter prenatal vitamins is only the beginning of an infinite number of things you will do over the next fifty or so years to protect your child and make sure he or she is healthy and safe.

Prenatal vitamins are your way of making sure your unborn child is getting all the nutrients he or she needs to grow strong and healthy.

Eating a well-balanced diet will usually provide a lot of the key nutrients you need but let's face it most of us do not eat well-balanced diets very regularly.

While pregnant you must remember that whatever you put into your body not only affects you, but it directly affects your child.

While it is important to eat healthy, most obstetricians will recommend that their patients take prenatal vitamins too to make sure that both mom and baby get everything they need.

You wouldn't want to take unnecessary chances where your health is concerned. Having said that, how do you know which over-the-counter prenatal vitamin will contain everything you and your baby may need?

Do you just assume every over-the-counter prenatal vitamin on the market is the same? Do they all contain the same ingredients? What ingredients make it a "prenatal" versus a regular "multi-vitamin?"

Must Haves

Research has shown that while it is true most over-the-counter, multivitamins contain a lot of the nutritional supplements expectant mothers need.

However most health care providers agree that in addition to the ingredients contained in daily multi-vitamin supplements, an expectant mother's body is changing dramatically and will need supplements as well.

According to Pregnancy Magazine, these the below five ingredients should be included in any over-the-counter prenatal vitamin you choose.

Folic Acid - Folic Acid is an important part of cell division. Every cell in your body uses folic acid. Given that your cells are dividing and creating a new human being, it goes without saying that you will need a lot of extra folic acid.

Vitamin D - This too is a must-have! Did you know that vitamin D deficiency is common globally? Inadequate intake of vitamin D can lead to abnormal bone growth or soft bones for a newborn.

Calcium - Since calcium is necessary for strong teeth and bones, if you are pregnant, your prenatal vitamin must contain the full recommended dosage.

Iron - Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency during pregnancy. Iron helps your body make extra blood. When you become pregnant, your body will require a lot more blood to provide the baby with what it needs. If you feel extremely tired, you are probably not getting enough iron in your diet.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids - Omega-3 fatty acids are critical for fetal neuro-development. Since the main source of Omega-3 fatty acids come from seafood, and since pregnant women are advised to limit their diet to 2 servings of seafood per week, it is safe to assume that most pregnant women are deficient in this nutrient as well.

Choosing The Right Over-The-Counter Prenatal Vitamin For You

Before you buy any over-the-counter prenatal vitamin, we recommend you FIRST check with you obstetrician.

Your obstetrician needs to be aware of anything you are taking, prescription or non-prescription. Some pregnant women develop conditions when they are pregnant that could be affected by ingredients in some over-the-counter prenatal vitamins.

One example of this is gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that is only present during pregnancy. Diabetes is when your body is not able to regulate the amount of insulin it makes and uses.

There are a large number of women who have an onset of gestational diabetes during pregnancy. Thus, if you have been diagnosed with this condition the over-the-counter prenatal vitamin you choose may contain ingredients that could directly affect your health. 

Side Effects & Interactions

When taken as directed, most prenatal vitamins should not cause any serious side effects.

It seems that the most common complaints reported by women are constipation (caused by the iron included in the vitamin) and upset stomach or nausea. Some women find it helpful to take their vitamins before bed to try and combat the feelings of nausea.

Similarly, prenatal vitamins have been known to interact with other medications, such as heart and blood pressure medications as well as some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and others.

Top Over The Counter Prenatal Vitamins

Since ingredients are the most important factor in choosing any vitamin, for our review that's where we will begin. How do over-the-counter prenatal vitamins compare to one another where the key five ingredients are concerned?


Nature Made Prenatal Multi-Vitamin

The Nature Made brand has been around for a long time. Nature Made has been making vitamins and supplements for over 40 years, and they produce more than 150 different kinds of vitamins.

A good thing about this selection is that Nature Made is reputable vitamin manufacturer and guarantees their products for purity and potency standards!

Nature Made Prenatal Multi-Vitamins come in three different forms: tablet, gel or gummies so if you have a hard time with gel caps or just prefer gummies, you have a variety to choose from.

The recommended daily serving is one tablet. However, this vitamin does contain fillers such as cellulose gel, cornstarch, soybean oil, maltodextrin, and a few others. 

What We Liked

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    Relatively small and easy to swallow
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    Daily dose is only one pill per day
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    Contains 100% or more of the RDA for pregnant women for Folic Acid, Vitamin D, and Iron

What We Didn't Like

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    Contains no Omega 3 fatty acids
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    Only Contains 19% of the RDA of calcium for pregnant women 
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    Contains added fillers and sugar substitutes

One-A-Day Women's Prenatal Gummies

One-A-Day Women's Prenatal Gummies is manufactured by the Bayer Pharmaceutical Company. A well-known company that has been around for about 150 years.

The prenatal gummies are small and chewy. However, the flavor and texture are a let-down. They also tend to be extra sticky. This vitamin contains fillers such as glucose syrup, gelatin, and sugar.

If you have gestational diabetes or other conditions where an added sugar in your diet is discouraged, this might not be a good choice for you.

However, they are easy to take and not as hard on your stomach. The come 60 chews per package and the recommended daily serving is two gummies.

What We Liked

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    Packed with folic acid, vitamin D, Calcium, Iron and Omega 3's
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    Come in variety of fruity flavors 
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    Easy on your stomach

What We Didn't Like

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    High sugar content
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    Contains fillers in addition to added sugar
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    Tend to clump together in the bottle

New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multi-Vitamin

New Chapter Perfect Prenatal Multi-Vitamins are put out by The Vitamin Shoppe, a company that has been around since 1977.

These prenatal vitamins are created by extracting whole food cultured vitamins and minerals to create the "perfect" prenatal multi-vitamin.

There is also a probiotic culture added to the vitamin to help with digestion. They do not contain any added sugars or sugar substitutes, are gluten-free and contain no GMOs. 

What We Liked

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    Made from all natural ingredients
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    Includes a probiotic
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    Does not hurt stomach or make you queasy 

What We Didn't Like

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    A little higher than other over-the-counter prenatal vitamins
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    Does not contain Omega-3 fatty acids

Vitamin Code Garden of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins

Vitamin Code Garden of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins is put out by Vitacost.com, an online vitamin store based out of Las Vegas, Nevada.

These over-the-counter prenatal vitamins are supposed to be completely natural and made from 23 organically grown fruits and vegetables with antioxidants to boot.

The nutrients in the Vitamin Code prenatal vitamins are extracted from raw vegetables so if you are looking for vitamins with no synthetic additives; these could be a good choice for you. They are sold 90 pills per bottle, and the recommended daily dose is 3 per day.

What We Liked

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    100% all natural ingredients plus antioxidants to boot
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    Increases in your energy levels
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    Folic acid is derived from natural sources so better for absorption
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    Gluten-free/no binders or fillers

What We Didn't Like

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    Must take additional supplement to get Omega-3's
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    Not very tasty and serving size is three pills per day

Vitafusion Prenatal Gummy Vitamins+

The Vitafusion Prenatal Gummy Vitamins are made by Vitafusion a company owned by Avid Health, Inc. Vitafusion is in the business of "making nutrition taste good."

These prenatal gummies come in lemon and raspberry flavored chews that taste good. While these supplements do contain Omega-3 fish oils, they do not contain any iron or calcium.

Since they taste good and are easy on your stomach, you are more likely to take them as recommended and not be tempted to skip any doses. They are packaged and sold 90 chews per bottle, and the recommended daily serving size is two chews.

What We Liked

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    Really good flavor
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    Easy on stomach
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    Contains Omega-3 fish oils

What We Didn't Like

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    Does not contain iron or calcium
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    Contains glucose syrup, sucrose, and other additives
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    Can cause diarrhea 

Other Considerations

As you can see, reading the labels are very important when selecting your over-the-counter prenatal vitamin. Recently, however, the Federal Drug Administration changed the requirements for the nutrition labeling process.

The new labels reflecting these changes are not required until July 2018. If you would like more information, you can go to www.fda.gov and download their Question and Answers on the changes to Nutrition and Supplement Facts Label sheet which contains all the information about the required changes.

From a cursory review of the sheet, it seems a lot of the changes revolve around the way labels reports added sugars and sugar alternatives.

Another thing to consider is the fact that the FDA does not regulate over-the-counter prenatal vitamins because they shall not be regarded medicine, but rather food products.

However, most reputable companies do provide labeling with the required information and appear to abide by the same restrictions and guidelines.

Conclusion

The sole purpose of over-the-counter prenatal vitamins is to fill in the nutritional gaps for an expectant mother.

Based on our review of labels and product information I tend to lean more toward the Vitamin Code Garden of Life Vegetarian Prenatal Vitamins. These over-the-counter prenatal vitamins are 100% all natural, no artificial sweeteners, no fillers and no synthetic products.

This brand does not contain any Omega-3 fatty acids and, if you are on a budget, they are slightly more costly than some of the others.

As far as over-the-counter prenatal vitamins are concerned, they appear to contain more than the FDA recommended daily allowance for pregnant women for folic acid, vitamin D, and Iron.

With that in mind, it appeared that all of the products we choose to review seemed to be low on the recommended daily allowance of calcium and the overwhelming majority did not contain any Omega-3 fatty acids at all.

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