The best prenatal vitamins for plant-based diets and sensitive stomachs
I should start off this blog post with a few disclaimers.
First of all, whether you are trying to conceive or are already pregnant, you should talk to your physician about the correct prenatal vitamin for you and your specific health and dietary needs.
Second, I obsessively research everything. It’s a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t this way. I wish I could simply take a look at top reviews, add something to my cart, and move on. But I can’t. So now I have a ton of random knowledge on prenatal vitamins. (Just ask me about breast pumps, bottles and strollers…)
Lastly, I’m a bit of a delicate flower. I have a very sensitive stomach, I can’t swallow large pills, and I eat a plant-based diet, which means I have to fill in the gaps of my diet with my prenatal vitamin — mainly vitamin B12, iron and DHA.
Before I got pregnant, I tried a ton of different vitamins, but once I got pregnant I stuck with the same brand through postpartum because my doctor gave me the OK and they worked well for me. I should also mention I’m a sucker for Instagram ads, hence me trying just about every trendy prenatal vitamin on the market.
Here’s my unbiased review of the most popular prenatal vitamins:
I’m lumping these two together because I feel the same way about both of them: they’re delicious, easy to take and didn’t upset my stomach. I would take them after dinner as my dessert! The only reason I stopped taking either of these gummies is because they don’t have any iron, and I feared that with my vegetarian diet I wouldn’t meet the minimum daily value without it in my vitamins. Both of these gummies contain DHA, which is a win, but it’s a very small amount compared to a standalone DHA supplement. If I had to choose between the two of these, I would probably lean towards the Vitafusion simply because it contains folate instead of folic acid, which I’ve read is easier for your body to absorb. Another popular gummy vitamin I’ve heard good things about is SmartyPants — I didn’t end up trying these due to the lack of iron, but they get rave reviews.
I really liked these vitamins because they are made of whole foods (essentially ground up fruits and vegetables) and the capsules are easy to swallow and vegetarian. The DHA pills are strawberry flavored and were the first fish oil pill I tried that didn’t make me have fishy burps (the worst). The prenatal vitamins also contain probiotics and ginger to help sensitive stomachs. Lastly, this may sound silly, but they come in glass bottles, which gave them a little something extra. I bought them at Whole Foods or on Amazon, but they’re not at your typical drugstore or Target. The only reason I stopped taking these vitamins is because you need to take one capsule three times daily, which I found too inconvenient. I almost always forgot to take them with my lunch at work, and if we were out and about on the weekends, I had to keep a ziplock baggie of them in my purse. Other than that, I thought these were great and they did not upset my stomach.
I took these vitamins most consistently and thought they were the easiest and most convenient to take. I would take two capsules together each morning before I had my breakfast. They have a refreshing lemon flavor and never upset my stomach. What makes these vitamins different is they contain just 12 essential nutrients and leave out everything else because their research shows that most women fulfill the daily requirements of the other vitamins through their regular diets. (Hence why you “pee out” most of a multivitamin.) This is a subscription and a little pricey at $35/month – although it contains DHA so it’s kind of a 2-for-1 deal. So why did I stop taking them? I couldn’t justify the cost before I got pregnant, and then once I did, I feared I wouldn’t be able to keep up with a balanced diet during the first trimester (and boy was I right!). But if you’re one of those people who can stick with your daily green smoothies and salads throughout pregnancy and don’t experience nausea or food aversions, I think these are a great option. Me, on the other hand, I survived on PB&J sandwiches and goldfish crackers. I vividly remember one night when I forced myself to eat a dry piece of toast in bed because I had just thrown up my entire dinner— not a nutrient dense day for sure.
I picked up this Daily Duo pack on a whim at Target after I canceled my Ritual subscription and ended up taking them during the first month of my pregnancy. In this pack, you get a prenatal vitamin and DHA Omega-3 for around $25/month – compared to $35/month for the Ritual vitamins. Like the Garden of Life vitamins, these include a rainbow blend of fruits, veggies and superfoods. They also contain organic spirulina, ginger and probiotics for nausea and gut health. When I first started experiencing nausea during pregnancy, I instantly felt better after I took my vitamins in the morning.
However, around week 8 I became so ill I couldn’t even keep down water and crackers! Around this time, I ended up switching to the Rainbow Light Prenatal Petite Mini-Tab because I had a hard time swallowing the bigger pills. The petite mini-tab vitamins require you to take three pills/day, but you can take them at the same time so I never missed a dose. I purchased the Rainbow Light Prenatal DHA Smart Essentials separately and took them all in the evening before bed.
For me, these vitamins were the winning combo because they covered EVERYTHING I needed, are affordable and easy to get (available in most drugstores and Target, plus on Amazon), and they’re Non-GMO Project Verified, certified raw and clean, so I felt good about taking them. To me, the probiotics and “gentle on the stomach iron” made a big difference as I had no digestive issues once I got past the nausea in the first trimester. The one negative? They taste nasty, so I always took them with flavored seltzer.
Does a perfect prenatal vitamin exist?
Probably not, but hopefully my obsessive research helps you make a decision about which one is best for you. Let me know if you have a favorite prenatal vitamin in the comments below.