The Best Plant-Based Prenatal Vitamins

A healthy and balanced vegan diet is full of nutrients and it’s a choice that you can feel good about whatever your reasons are for being vegan.

But one of the times when doubt starts creeping in and depending on how open-minded your friends or family are, you may get judged or put under pressure to start eating at very least a vegetarian diet if you aren’t going to eat meat or fish, is when you're pregnant.

But science has shown time and time again that vegan moms and babies are perfectly healthy provided that moms follow a balanced diet.

The problem comes in when morning sickness plagues you. It’s a common misconception that morning sickness only occurs in the mornings. It can happen day or night or unfortunately, all day long.

When you can’t keep your food down, it’s difficult for your body to absorb nutrients from it. Some nutrients are also a little harder to get on a vegan diet. This is where a prenatal vitamin comes in. Most of them do contain animal products, for example, gelatin, which is neither vegan or vegetarian.

But not all of them. Check out our list of the best vegan prenatal vitamins.

1. Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin

Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin

Our Verdict: Best Budget Buy

The Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin not only contains vitamins and minerals but probiotics and digestive enzymes. It also contains helpful herbs and spices that support pregnancy and helps to reduce nausea.

Iron is a little high at the full RDA of 27mg since the food that you eat will also be providing you with iron. It contains folic acid instead of folate and the tablets are quite large and they do have a slight smell which can make them difficult to take. There is also no DHA.

Depending on whether you get the older or newer formulations may contain raspberry leaf which is not recommended before the second trimester. The quantities of the nutrients also differ between formulations.

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Pros:

  • You only need to take one a day
  • Contains probiotics, digestive enzymes, and ginger to help with nausea and digestion
  • 100% RDA of iron and vitamin A are good if you can't keep food down
  • Available in 30, 90, or 150 tablets

Cons:

  • Uses folic acid instead of folate
  • Iron is at 100% RDA
  • Vitamin A is at 100% RDA but is beta-carotene
  • No DHA

2. New Chapter Prenatal Vitamins

New Chapter Prenatal Vitamins

Our Verdict: Best Variety of Superfood Additives

The New Chapter Prenatal Vitamin supplement contains all the crucial nutrients except for DHA. All the ingredients are plant-based and it's easy on the stomach, even an empty stomach.

There's also a mix of helpful herbs to help with nausea such as peppermint and contains berry, herb, and veggie extracts for an extra boost of nutrients.

It contains a mix of folate and folic acid which can help those who struggle to absorb folic acid. Iron is at 100% RDA. To get the full dose you need to take 3 tablets.

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Pros:

  • Contains all the vitamins and minerals needed
  • Has a helpful blend of herbs, spices, veggies, and fruit to support pregnancy
  • Easy on your stomach and can be taken on an empty stomach
  • 100% RDA of iron and vitamin A are good if you can't keep food down
  • Available in 48, 96, 192, or 270 tablets

Cons:

  • Serving is 3 tablets daily
  • Iron is at 100% RDA
  • Vitamin A is at 100% RDA but is beta-carotene
  • No DHA

3. Garden of Life Organic Prenatal Supplement

Garden of Life Organic Prenatal Supplement

Our Verdict: Best Organic Prenatal Supplement

Most of the vitamins and minerals are at 100% RDA for you alone in this Garden of Life supplement which is not bad if you are able to eat healthily as well (and keep your food down) since that would cover your baby. All the nutrients are derived from organically grown plants.

It also contains ginger and lemon to help with nausea. You only need to take one a day which is helpful and it's free from allergens like soy and gluten. There are also no synthetic binders or fillers. If you do struggle to take the one a day tablet you can get it in divided doses which is 3 tablets daily.

It doesn't contain calcium or DHA so both of these will need to be taken separately. It can also trigger allergic reactions due to food additives.

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Pros:

  • ICS organic certified
  • Helps to soothe nausea
  • Contains the best forms of the vitamins and minerals
  • Can be taken once daily or 3 times daily

Cons:

  • No DHA
  • The lowe RDA for some nutrients is problematic if you struggle to keep food down

4. MegaFood Baby & Me 2 Supplement

MegaFood Baby & Me 2 Supplement

Our Verdict: Best for Easing Nausea

The MegaFood Baby & Me 2 supplement contains all the necessary nutrients aside from calcium, magnesium, and DHA which you will need to take separately.

It's easy on the stomach and made from real food. It can help to decrease nausea and all the nutrients are in their most bioavailable (able to be absorbed and used by the body) form.

You do need to take 2 a day of these large and not so great tasting tablets to get the full dose and while the RDA just covers your needs for most of the nutrients, if you are able to eat a healthy diet then this is not a problem. They also contain a few fillers and binders.

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Pros:

  • Easy on the stomach
  • Helps to ease nausea
  • Derived from real foods (plant origin)
  • The nutrients are in bioavailable forms
  • There are 60 servings per bottle

Cons:

  • You need to take 2 tablets per day
  • The tablets are large and pungent
  • If you can't keep food down the RDA's are too low

5. Best Wellness Mama Bird Prenatal Multivitamin

Best Wellness Mama Bird Prenatal Multivitamin

Our Verdict: Best for Sensitive Noses and Tastebuds

The Mama Bird Prenatal Multivitamin has all the nutrients needed aside from DHA. The nutrients are all derived from food and you can choose from the one a day formula, the twice a day formula, or the iron and iodine-free formula.

They are flavored and they smell a bit like vanilla which makes it a little easier on sensitive noses and taste buds. Contains folate not folic acid.

They also contain probiotics, ginger, chamomile, and red raspberry leaf to relieve nausea and support pregnancy. The one a day tablets are quite large so the two a day might be a better option.

Red raspberry leaf is not recommended until the second trimester. For some nutrients, the RDA may be too low if you struggle to keep your food down.

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Pros:

  • Contains a range of nutrients in their most bioavailable forms
  • A range of options to choose from
  • Easy on sensitive noses and tastebuds
  • Ingredients to help with nausea

Cons:

  • No DHA
  • Contains raspberry leaf which is only recommended from the second trimester
  • If you can't keep food down the RDA's for some nutrients are slightly too low

How to Choose a Prenatal Vitamin

All nutrients are important. During pregnancy we need more. You will likely need to supplement with at least these nutrients:

  • Folate, the natural form of folic acid (600mg)
  • Omega 3, including DHA (300mg)
  • Iron (27mg)
  • Calcium (1000mg)
  • Iodine (250mcg-300mcg)
  • Vitamin D (15mcg)

Your prenatal supplement should at least provide 5-50% of these nutrients. Some supplements will provide as much as 70-100% of the nutrient requirements which is helpful if you struggle with morning sickness.

In addition to these, vegans and vegetarians are also commonly deficient in zinc (11mcg). Vitamin B12 is also important, so make sure that your prenatal vitamin contains it or keep supplementing with your current B12 supplement.

Common Animal Ingredients in Prenatal Supplements

  • Gelatin: This is the most common across all kinds of supplements, more so in the soft gel capsule supplements. Look for veggie caps made from vegetable cellulose instead or tablets.
  • Animal-derived D3: Vitamin D3 can be made synthetically, but often its derived from lanolin which is kind of like an oil from sheep's wool.
  • Animal-derived vitamin A: Vitamin A can also be made synthetically or derived from plants as beta-carotene, but sometimes it’s derived from the liver of animals.
  • Fish oil: Most of the time omega 3 or DHA supplements use oil derived from fish instead of seaweed or algae.

The Dangers of Using Bad Supplements

prenatal vitamins on a bottle

Yes, you need nutrients, but some supplements will provide too much. Vitamin A, for example, is one nutrient that you need to watch. This is why acne medication should never be taken while you are pregnant. It can cause birth defects.

Beta-carotene is safer in higher quantities as your body only converts what it needs into vitamin A.

Though rare, some people's bodies may not do this properly so stay away from supplements with 100% RDA if this is a known problem for you.

Too much iron (above 45mg) can cause toxicity, and even at levels that aren’t that high, it can make you struggle with constipation.

If you are struggling to keep food down, the tablets with higher RDA's can be beneficial. If not, then the 100% RDA's particularly can end up with you taking in too much. B-vitamins including folate as well as vitamin C is fine because your body will get rid of the excess.

A Few More Things to Keep in Mind

Calcium

Calcium and even magnesium in large quantities can block iron which is why these nutrients are in small quantities in multivitamins.

You will need to take a separate calcium and magnesium supplement at a different time of day.

Too much calcium, especially in the absence of sufficient vitamin K can cause calcification so speak to your doctor about the right dose for you.

Folate vs Folic Acid

Not everyone will struggle with folic acid, but the problem is that unless you do tests for the MTHFR gene mutations, you won’t know if you are one of them. It can be carcinogenic in people with these gene mutations. Many people also don’t absorb it well.

The natural form (found in leafy greens, legumes, and beetroot) folate is more bioavailable and is better for those with the mutation. L-Methylfolate or methylfolate is the name to look out for.

If you are concerned, chat to your doctor about which is the best form to take and how much of it since some women will need more than others, particularly if you have given birth to a baby with neural tube defects before.

DHA

DHA is a type of omega 3 found in fish oil, algae, and some types of seaweed. ALA, which is in leafy greens, seeds (flax, chia, hemp), walnuts, and some beans like soy is more common in a vegan and vegetarian diet.

ALA is necessary, but the body doesn’t convert it to DHA very well. During pregnancy, aim for at least 300mg of DHA and if possible around 200mg of EPA (another type of omega 3).

What Do All These Nutrients Do?

Each of these nutrients is crucial to help your baby grow in the following ways:

Central Nervous System Growth

Folate, iodine, and omega 3 are both responsible for healthy brain and nerve function. A deficiency in folate can result in neural tube defects. This means that the spine, nerves and brain, and sometimes the skull have defects.

This can happen in the first 28 days of pregnancy which is why you need to take care of your diet and take a prenatal supplement when you’re trying for a baby or at very least as soon as you find out you are pregnant.

Skeletal Structure

Calcium and vitamin D are crucial for this purpose. If you are deficient in calcium or don’t consume enough for you and your baby, your body will start taking it from your bones.

Oxygen

During pregnancy, your blood volume goes up by almost 50%. You need extra iron to be able to carry oxygen around your body as well as to your fetus.

The other vitamins and minerals are important too and play a role in developing things like your baby’s eyes, skin, other organs, hair, and nails.


We all want the best for our children before and after they enter the world. Thankfully there are more and more companies catering to vegans and vegetarians so that we don't need to go back on our ideals while trying to have healthy babies.

Our Top Picks for the Best Prenatal Vitamin for Vegetarians and Vegans

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