The World of Pregnancy

Best Over the Counter Prenatal Vitamin

You just found out that you are pregnant, so you are asking yourself which is the best over the counter prenatal vitamin.

A healthy diet is the best source of vitamins and minerals. However, even if you eat what you need, there`s still a possibility of imbalances of essential nutrients. If you are pregnant or planning to remain pregnant, prenatal vitamins will cover these gaps.Best Over the Counter Prenatal Vitamins

Over the Counter Prenatal Vitamins vs. Prescription Vitamins

The main difference between OTC vitamins and prescription ones is usually the amount of folic acid. Over the counter vitamins contain 400 – 600 mcg, while the prescription ones often contain up to 1.000 mcg.

What Makes Prenatal Vitamins Different from Other Vitamins?

Prenatals contain more folic acid and iron compared with other multivitamins for adults:

  • Folic acid helps in preventing neural tube defects, which are some serious abnormalities in the brain and spinal cord.
  • Iron helps in the development and growth of the baby. Moreover, iron prevents anemia, a medical condition in which red blood cells don`t develop properly.

Also, studies have shown that prenatal supplements decrease the risk of low weight birth.

Are Other Nutrients Necessary?

Prenatal vitamins don`t include Omega-3 fatty acids, which have an important role in the brain development of a child. If you cannot consume fish or other foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, the doctor will recommend supplements that will contain those substances, in addition to prenatal supplements.

Calcium and vitamin D are also important, especially during the third trimester of pregnancy when the rapid growth and bone strengthening of the child take place. That`s why is recommended for you to consume fortified milk with vitamin D or foods rich in calcium that also contain vitamin D. If you cannot drink milk or eat foods rich in calcium, your doctor will advise you to take supplements with calcium and vitamin D. – Check this out!

What OTC Prenatal Vitamins Do Doctors Recommend?

Over the counter prenatal multivitamins can be bought without prescription from any pharmacy. Your doctor may advise a specific brand or let you decide from a list of recommended ones. – More info!

In general, look for prenatal multivitamins that will include:

  • Folic acid – 400-600 mcg.
  • Calcium – 250 mg.
  • Iron – 30 mg.
  • Vitamin C – 50 mg.
  • Zinc – 15 mg.
  • Copper – 2 mg.
  • Vitamin B6 – 2 mg.
  • Vitamin D – 400 UI.

Keep in mind that prenatal supplements are a supplement for healthy food and not a substitute. They don`t contain 100% of the daily content of vitamins and minerals. Moreover, depending on the needs, the doctor may recommend additional doses of specific nutrients. For example, if you already gave birth to a child with a neural tube defect, he may recommend another supplement that would contain an additional dose of folic acid – 4 mg, before and during future pregnancies.

When Should OTC Prenatal Supplements Be Taken?

Ideally, you should start taking them immediately after conception. The baby`s neural tube, which will become his brain and spinal cord, is developing in the first month of pregnancy, frequently before even knowing that you are pregnant.

How Much Time They Need to Be Taken?

It would be recommended for them to be administered during the entire pregnancy. Sometimes, the doctor may recommend continuing to take them after birth, especially if you are breastfeeding. – Read this!

What Is the Use of OTC Prenatal Vitamins?

Not all experts have the same opinion regarding the generalization of prenatal supplements for pregnant women.

For example, some doctors claim that a well balanced diet can offer all the vitamins a woman needs during pregnancy. Still, most doctors claim that a woman who wants to have a child needs prenatal multivitamins both before conceiving and during pregnancy.

During the first few weeks of pregnancy, folic acid can help in the development of the baby by preventing abnormalities of the neural tube, which later becomes the brain and spinal cord. Any pregnant woman also needs to include folic acid in her supplements for supporting rapid cell production. Most prescriptions of prenatals contain 1,000 mcg of folic acid.

Why Do You Need these Vitamins during Pregnancy?

According to most doctors, it`s almost impossible to ensure your body all the necessary nutrients during pregnancy, only based on normal diet.

Your body produces so much extra blood during pregnancy that you need 30 – 50 mg of iron and up to 700 mcg folic acid on a daily basis.

Lack of Vitamin B12 May Leads to Miscarriage

Although lack of vitamin B12 is rare, women that confront with this situation often experience miscarriages and suffer of infertility, according to a study published in Journal of Reproductive Medicine. Still, this problem can easily be corrected through the administration of this vitamin orally, which will help in maintaining the nervous system and red blood cells healthy.

What Can You Do If Vitamin B12?

As already mentioned above, this situation is very rare, but the risk is more increased in vegetarians, because the most important sources of vitamin B12 are beef, fish (salmon, tuna, etc), cereals, eggs, milk, cheese and yogurt.

Signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, dizziness, weakness, constipation, weight loss, gas or loss of appetite.

Michael Bennett, director of the Hematology Medical Center in Afula Ha’Emek, Israel advises all doctors to test their patients in detecting a lack of vitamin B12, especially those who were diagnosed with infertility or have had repeated miscarriages. The problem is sometimes more complicated, because a sufficient amount of folic acid might actually mask a lack of vitamin B12. – Read more!

Studies about Prenatal Vitamins

Michael Bennett has studied 14 women who had lack of vitamin B12 and had suffered miscarriages or had infertility problems. Most of them already had at least a child, but they tried to become pregnant again after at least 8 months from the birth of the last child. One of these women already had 7 miscarriages, but after starting a treatment of prenatal multivitamins managed to remain pregnant and had 3 more children.

Nine of these women remained pregnant after starting the same treatment. The remaining women chose not to remain pregnant again, as they were over 40 years old.

Therefore, Bennett concluded that women who had lack of vitamin B12 are prone to an increased risk of suffering thrombosis, a disease who can lead to miscarriage, infertility, inhibition of ovulation or implantation. Supplements of B12 help blood to circulate normally, increasing changes for women to remain pregnant.

Everything about Folic Acid, Before and After Birth

Folic acid, or folate, is a vitamin from the B group. It`s also known as vitamin M, vitamin B9, vitamin Bc or folacin.

Folic acid helps in the development and regeneration of normal cells, being especially important during the first few weeks of pregnancy for the baby`s development. It also helps in the proper development of the baby`s brain and spinal cord, without which there`s an increased risk of miscarriage, respectively 1 in 1,000 for the baby to suffer a neural tube defect. These abnormalities manifest under the form of several diseases at birth, among which there are spina bifida and anencephaly. The first one, which actually means open spinal cord, may lead in the worst cases to leg paralysis and bladder control problems.

What Are the Best OTC Prenatal Vitamins to Take?

We recommend these top 10 prenatal supplements. All the data related to them are taken from Labdoor.

1. MegaFood Baby and Me Prenatal Multivitamin

  • Rating: 86.3 out of 100 (Labdoor score).
  • Quality Rank: 1 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • Value Rank: 11 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • The product met all purity standards.
  • The product saw 5 key nutrients record label claim variances in excess of 10%.
  • Folic acid stood out as the worst offense (measured 61.25% off its label claim).
  • Label Accuracy: 78%.
  • Product Purity: 90%.
  • Nutritional Value: 89%.
  • Ingredient Safety: 100%.
  • Projected Efficacy: 73%.
  • Analytical Tests:
  • Serving Size: 4 Tablets.
  • Price/Serving: $1.23.
  • Vitamin A/Serving: 7140 IU (as mixed carotenoids).
  • Folate/Serving: 1290 mcg.
  • Iron/Serving: 20.7 mg.
  • Zinc/Serving: 16.2 mg.
  • Watchlist Ingredients: N/A.
  • Purity Tests: Pass (heavy metal content below 1 PPM).

2. Garden Of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal Multivitamin

  • Rating: 85 out of 100 (Labdoor score).
  • Quality Rank: 2 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • Value Rank: 7 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • The product met all purity standards.
  • The product saw 4 key nutrients record label claim variances in excess of 10%.
  • Folic acid stood out as the worst offense (measured 35% off its label claim).
  • Label Accuracy: 81%.
  • Product Purity: 90%.
  • Nutritional Value: 88%.
  • Ingredient Safety: 96%.
  • Projected Efficacy: 73%.
  • Analytical Tests:
  • Serving Size: 3 Capsules.
  • Price/Serving: $0.87.
  • Vitamin A/Serving: 6600 IU (as beta-carotene).
  • Folate/Serving: 1080 mcg.
  • Iron/Serving: 18.5 mg.
  • Zinc/Serving: 8.1 mg.
  • Watchlist Ingredients: N/A.
  • Purity Tests: Pass (heavy metal content below 1 PPM).

3. Zahler Prenatal Vitamin + DHA

  • Rating: 82.6 out of 100 (Labdoor score).
  • Quality Rank: 3 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • Value Rank: 12 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • The product met all purity standards.
  • The product saw 7 key nutrients record label claim variances in excess of 10%.
  • Manganese stood out as the worst offense (measured 60% off its label claim).
  • Label Accuracy: 78%.
  • Product Purity: 90%.
  • Nutritional Value: 92%.
  • Ingredient Safety: 90%.
  • Projected Efficacy: 68%.
  • Analytical Tests:
  • Serving Size: 2 Softgels.
  • Price/Serving: $1.20.
  • Vitamin A/Serving: 5980 IU (as beta-carotene).
  • Folate/Serving: 1000 mcg (as 5-methyltetrahydrofolate).
  • Iron/Serving: 33.4 mg.
  • DHA/Serving: 252 mg.
  • Watchlist Ingredients: N/A.
  • Purity Tests: Pass (heavy metal content below 1 PPM).

4. Thorne Research Basic Prenatal Multivitamin

  • Rating: 81.8 out of 100 (Labdoor score).
  • Quality Rank: 4 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • Value Rank: 9 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • The product met all purity standards.
  • The product saw 6 key nutrients record label claim variances in excess of 10%.
  • Vitamin B6 stood out as the worst offense (measured 99% off its label claim).
  • Label Accuracy: 77%.
  • Product Purity: 90%.
  • Nutritional Value: 88%.
  • Ingredient Safety: 96%.
  • Projected Efficacy: 63%.
  • Analytical Tests:
  • Serving Size: 3 Capsules.
  • Price/Serving: $0.88.
  • Vitamin A/Serving: 4400 IU (as mixed carotenoids, retinyl palmitate).
  • Folate/Serving: 1000 mcg (as calcium folinate, L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate).
  • Iron/Serving: 47.6 mg.
  • Zinc/Serving: 25 mg.
  • Watchlist Ingredients: N/A.
  • Purity Tests: Pass (heavy metal content below 1 PPM).

5. New Chapter Perfect Prenatal

  • Rating: 79.6 out of 100 (Labdoor score).
  • Quality Rank: 5 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • Value Rank: 14 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • The product met all purity standards.
  • The product saw 4 key nutrients record label claim variances in excess of 10%.
  • Folate stood out as the worst offense (measured 60% off its label claim).
  • Label Accuracy: 76%.
  • Product Purity: 90%.
  • Nutritional Value: 87%.
  • Ingredient Safety: 78%.
  • Projected Efficacy: 72%.
  • Analytical Tests:
  • Serving Size: 3 Tablets.
  • Price/Serving: $1.09.
  • Vitamin A/Serving: 5200 IU (as beta-carotene).
  • Folate/Serving: 960 mcg.
  • Iron/Serving: 22 mg.
  • Zinc/Serving: 7.5 mg.
  • Watchlist Ingredients: N/A.
  • Purity Tests: Pass (heavy metal content below 1 PPM).

6. Rainbow Light Prenatal Petite Mini

  • Rating: 75.2 out of 100 (Labdoor score).
  • Quality Rank: 6 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • Value Rank: 6 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • The product met all purity standards.
  • The product saw 5 key nutrients record label claim variances in excess of 10%.
  • Vitamin A stood out as the worst offense (measured 32.25% off its label claim).
  • Label Accuracy: 79%.
  • Product Purity: 90%.
  • Nutritional Value: 91%.
  • Ingredient Safety: 78%.
  • Projected Efficacy: 56%.
  • Analytical Tests:
  • Serving Size: 3 Tablets.
  • Price/Serving: $0.33.
  • Vitamin A/Serving: 2710 IU (as beta-carotene, retinyl palmitate).
  • Folate/Serving: 960 mcg (as folic acid).
  • Iron/Serving: 32.1 mg.
  • Zinc/Serving: 16.4 mg.
  • Watchlist Ingredients: N/A.
  • Purity Tests: Pass (heavy metal content below 1 PPM).

7. Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin

  • Rating: 75.1 out of 100 (Labdoor score).
  • Quality Rank: 7 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • Value Rank: 1 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • The product met all purity standards.
  • The product saw 5 key nutrients record label claim variances in excess of 10%.
  • Vitamin D stood out as the worst offense (measured 85% off its label claim).
  • Label Accuracy: 70%.
  • Product Purity: 90%.
  • Nutritional Value: 89%.
  • Ingredient Safety: 90%.
  • Projected Efficacy: 49%.
  • Analytical Tests:
  • Serving Size: 1 Tablet.
  • Price/Serving: $0.13.
  • Vitamin A/Serving: 6290 IU (as beta-carotene).
  • Folate/Serving: 563.3 mcg (as folic acid).
  • Iron/Serving: 20.7 mg.
  • Zinc/Serving: 15.7 mg.
  • Watchlist Ingredients: N/A.
  • Purity Tests: Pass (heavy metal content below 1 PPM).

8. Nordic Naturals Prenatal DHA

  • Rating: 74.5 out of 100 (Labdoor score).
  • Quality Rank: 8 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • Value Rank: 13 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • The product met all purity standards.
  • The product saw 5 key nutrients record label claim variances in excess of 10%.
  • EPA stood out as the worst offense (measured 87.78% off its label claim).
  • Label Accuracy: 64%.
  • Product Purity: 90%.
  • Nutritional Value: 80%.
  • Ingredient Safety: 98%.
  • Projected Efficacy: 47%.
  • Analytical Tests:
  • Serving Size: 2 Softagels.
  • Price/Serving: $0.47.
  • Omega-3/Serving: 580 mg.
  • EPA/Serving: 169 mg.
  • DHA/Serving: 411 mg.
  • Watchlist Ingredients: N/A.
  • Purity Tests: Pass (heavy metal content below 1 PPM).

9. Rainbow Light Prenatal One

  • Rating: 74.2 out of 100 (Labdoor score).
  • Quality Rank: 9 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • Value Rank: 2 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • The product met all purity standards.
  • The product saw 7 key nutrients record label claim variances in excess of 10%.
  • Vitamin A stood out as the worst offense (measured 37.23% off its label claim).
  • Label Accuracy: 64%.
  • Product Purity: 90%.
  • Nutritional Value: 90%.
  • Ingredient Safety: 82%.
  • Projected Efficacy: 53%.
  • Analytical Tests:
  • Serving Size: 1 Tablet.
  • Price/Serving: $0.16.
  • Vitamin A/Serving: 2511 IU (as beta-carotene, retinyl palmitate).
  • Folate/Serving: 880 mcg (as folic acid).
  • Iron/Serving: 29.9 mg.
  • Zinc/Serving: 14.2 mg.
  • Watchlist Ingredients: N/A.
  • Purity Tests: Pass (heavy metal content below 1 PPM).

10. Twinlab Prenatal Care

  • Rating: 72.6 out of 100 (Labdoor score).
  • Quality Rank: 10 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • Value Rank: 3 of 25 (Labdoor score).
  • The product met all purity standards.
  • The product saw 5 key nutrients record label claim variances in excess of 10%.
  • Vitamin C stood out as the worst offense (measured 49.17% off its label claim).
  • Label Accuracy: 79%.
  • Product Purity: 90%.
  • Nutritional Value: 89%.
  • Ingredient Safety: 78%.
  • Projected Efficacy: 49%.
  • Analytical Tests:
  • Serving Size: 2 Capsules.
  • Price/Serving: $0.20.
  • Vitamin A/Serving: 8030 IU (as beta-carotene, retinyl palmitate).
  • Folate/Serving: 1070 mcg (as folic acid).
  • Iron/Serving: 20.3 mg.
  • Zinc/Serving: 15.3 mg.
  • Watchlist Ingredients: N/A.
  • Purity Tests: Pass (heavy metal content below 1 PPM).

What Is DHA in Prenatal Vitamins?

Most prenatals contain the Omega-3 fatty acid (DHA). The Omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid is required during pregnancy for the baby`s vision and brain development. A lot of fish are great sources of this acid, but you also need to avoid the risk of mercury toxicity, so it`s best if you`ll contact a doctor about what fish you are allowed to eat during pregnancy. – Check this!

Do Prenatal Vitamins Have Side Effects?

  • Can Prenatal Vitamins Make You Have Diarrhea? This type of vitamins might make you have diarrhea, and this is mostly due to the fact that iron may lead to irritation of the digestive tract. Moreover, iron may also lead to constipation, so some vitamins include a stool softener, a substance that can obviously trigger diarrhea.
  • Do Prenatal Vitamins Change the Color of your Urine? Some vitamins included in prenatal multivitamins, especially vitamin B, may lead to a change of color of your urine (greenish or birth yellow). This sort of side effect is no sign of medical problem, but it`s still recommended to talk to a doctor if you feel any concerns. You might also feel a metallic taste in the mouth after taking this type of vitamins.
  • Additional Side Effects Caused by Prenatals. The most frequent side effects that a woman may feel after taking this kind of vitamins are loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, dark stools, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea or nausea.
  • Can You Overdose on Vitamins in Pregnancy? An overdose of vitamins A, D, E or K might cause serious side effects, even life-threatening for you and your unborn child. Specific minerals that are included in prenatals might cause severe overdose signs as well.
  • Can Taking Prenatal Vitamins Cause Acne? This is nothing more than a correlation and acne are not usually due to this type of vitamins. Most of the time, prenatal multivitamins are taken by women who are pregnant, and most of these women experience hormones, which in turn may lead to acne.
  • Can Prenatal Vitamins Make You Constipated? If it may happen for your prenatal multivitamins not to cause you constipation, you may want to get in touch to your doctor and talk to him about changing to vitamins that contain DHA (a substance which helps the brain development of the baby), and is a stool softener as well. But because constipation is most of the times common during pregnancy, it`s usually caused by a series of factors additionally to these prenatals.
  • Do Prenatal Vitamins Make your Hair Grow Faster? There`s no scientific research that supports this idea. This myth came to life due to the fact that pregnant women, who usually take this type of vitamins, have fast-growing hair because of the hormonal imbalance.

If you are still not sure about the above recommendations, talk to your gynecologist about other options. He may be able to recommend you either another type of prenatal multivitamins, either additional supplements of folic acid, calcium with vitamin D and iron.

How Much Does It Cost for Prenatal Vitamins?

Prenatal supplements averagely cost around $0.30/day. Many of them are sold in small bottles that range from 90 pills to 300. A cheaper way to get these vitamins is to buy them in bulk. For instance, a bottle of 300 pills of Nature Made Multi Prenatal vitamins bought from Costco can cost around $12.49, while a bottle of 90 tablets bought from Drugstore.com will cost you $11.99.

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