There is no argument among experts about the importance of taking a daily multivitamin if you are pregnant. At this time, you have increased needs for folic acid, calcium and iron. What's more, the additional nutrients may help make up for any nutritional deficiencies due to nausea and the "off" taste some pregnant women experience that make them unable to tolerate some foods. If you are not pregnant, or are not planning to become pregnant, but are of childbearing age, you still need a daily multivitamin, experts say, since there is always a chance of unintended pregnancy. We cover those choices in our discussion of Multivitamins for Women. Many women over age 50 take a prenatal vitamin in the belief it will help nail growth or hair thickness; however, you may be getting too much iron which can be harmful in the long run. If you are older than 50, you need to avoid these iron-containing supplements. Instead, see our section on Multivitamins for Adults over 50 for a more suitable nutrient combination.
There also is a fairly new development in the world of prenatal vitamins. In May of 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that women who are breast-feeding should take a prenatal vitamin containing iodine due to concerns about iodine deficiencies in both mothers-to-be and infants. If you are leery of taking iodine, as some are, be sure to check with your doctor and get specific recommendations for you and your baby.
Digestive issues are often a problem in pregnancy, especially in the early months, but women who have weighed in at review sites say they suffer less with Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal (Est. $40 for 180 tablets). This prenatal vitamin includes ginger, which is thought to have a natural effect on easing morning sickness, as well as a probiotic, which may help mitigate other digestive issues. While these claims have not been verified by the FDA, quite a few women say these are the only probiotics that they can take without experiencing nausea or stomach upset. However, others say they still have a tough time with these, and either are nauseated by the smell or still experience general nausea after taking them.
One of most popular aspects of Garden of Life Vitamin Code RAW Prenatal is it's made from raw, whole foods ingredients. These prenatals have passed professional tests for accuracy in labeling, nutritional value, ingredient safety, efficacy, and product purity. The formulation was recently updated due to the new iodine guidelines and contains 150 mcg. The two most common complaints we see about Garden of Life Vitamin Code prenatals are linked: you have to take three pills a day, and they are pricier than other prenatal vitamins. However, you don't have to take all three pills at once, many women take one at each meal. This, along with the natural ingredients, does make this a more expensive option than others, but most say it's worth it for the whole foods ingredients and the addition of the anti-nausea ingredients. Vitamin Code Raw is appropriate for vegetarians, but not vegans.
The biggest complaints we see about almost all prenatal vitamins is that they're big, hard to swallow, and leave an unpleasant aftertaste -- one that can manifest itself for hours in unpleasant "burps," many women say. Spring Valley Prenatal Multivitamin (Est. $15 for 240 tablets) is an exception. We found almost no complaints about the vitamins being hard to swallow or having an unpleasant aftertaste or smell. It passes professional tests for accuracy in ingredients and labeling, as well as purity, and is one of the lowest cost prenatal vitamin with verified ingredients. This prenatal vitamin has fewer overall ingredients than any other multivitamin in the prenatal category, however, it also does not contain iodine. That may make it a good choice if you're sensitive to iodine, but be sure to check with your doctor to see if Spring Valley's formulation is appropriate for you.
Spring Valley Prenatal Multivitamin contains 800 mcg of folic acid, which is higher than the RDA's of 400 mcg for females from age 14 to menopause, 600 mcg for pregnant women, and 500 mcg for breastfeeding women, but it's well within safe upper limits. It also contains 400 IU of vitamin D and 200 mg of calcium, which is the current RDA. It is gluten and yeast free, but not vegetarian and the serving size is one pill per day, which may be easier to take for those suffering from significant nausea.
Megafood Baby & Me (Est. $35 for 120 tablets) is another very well-regarded prenatal multivitamin that has passed tests for accuracy in labeling and verified ingredients and purity. It contains 800 mcg of folate, 600 IU of vitamin D and 18 mg of iron. It also contains 150 mcg of iodine. This prenatal multi gets raves from hundreds of users, who say they like the natural ingredients, and that they can take it without stomach upset. A few say the pills are far too large to swallow.
It's difficult to find vegan options in prenatal vitamins, but if that's an important feature to you, you may want to ask your physician about Deva Vegan Vitamins Prenatal Multivitamins (Est. $8 for 90 tablets). It has been tested for label accuracy, product purity, nutritional value, ingredient safety and projected efficacy. This prenatal multivitamin also gets high ratings from users. It contains 550 mcg of folic acid, 400 IU of vitamin D2, 100 mg of calcium and 150 mcg of iodine.
Most women say Deva Vegan multivitamin does not have an unpleasant taste or smell, but some say it makes them feel dizzy or nauseated -- something we see with all multivitamins, especially in early pregnancy when sensitivities to smell and taste are quite common. On the plus side, they say, is that the dosage is just one pill per day.