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Whether you’ve been a vegan for years or have recently switched to a plant-based lifestyle, finding out you’re expecting may cause you to question your choice. Some vegan moms-to-be feel pressured to start eating meat or take standard pregnancy supplements.
However, despite what the nay-sayers claim, a vegan diet is healthy and safe for moms and babies…provided you consume enough essential nutrients.
With the best vegan prenatal vitamins, getting enough nutrients is easy to accomplish. Some all natural prenatal vitamins also have the benefit of providing nutrients in their most bioactive forms, meaning it’s easy for the body to use them.
Because of the nutritional profile of the vegan diet, there are some special things to consider when researching the best pregnancy supplements for you. In this article, we’ll give you a guide to what you should look for.
Then, we’ll provide reviews of the best over the counter prenatal vitamins that are vegan-friendly, which will help keep both your baby and your ethics safe.
What vitamins are needed during pregnancy?
In order to meet the demands of growing a baby, doctors recommend the following vitamins for pregnant women:
- 400 mcg folic acid/folate
- 400 IU vitamin D
- 200 to 300 mg calcium
- 70 mg vitamin C
- 3 mg thiamine
- 2 mg riboflavin
- 20 mg niacin
- 6 mcg vitamin B12
- 10 mg vitamin E
- 15 mg zinc
- 17 mg iron
- 150 mcg iodine
All of these nutrients directly contribute to a baby’s growth while also keeping the mother healthy. For instance, iodine will ensure that your thyroid functions properly while also playing a role in the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system.
Some nutrients are so essential that doctors recommend taking a prenatal vitamin before you get pregnant. For example, folate is vital to neurological development that occurs 28 days or less after conception—before many women even know they’re pregnant!
Bottom line: if you’re trying to conceive, it’s time to start taking those prenatal vitamins.
Do I need anything special in my vegan prenatal vitamins?
Sticking to the recommended list in the section above is a good starting place. However, vegan moms will want to pay special attention to the content of B12, calcium, and iron as some of these essential nutrients can be more scarce in a plant-based diet.
B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that can be safely taken in large quantities (i.e., no upward tolerated limit has been established). Six micrograms of B12 is likely enough for the average omnivore, but vegans may need to supplement more B12 if it isn’t present in their diet. Talk to your doctor if you’re not sure what your needs are.
However, when it comes to calcium and iron, more isn’t necessarily better. Unless you’re told otherwise by your doctor, 1,200-1,400 mg of calcium daily in your food and supplements should be plenty during pregnancy. Taking any more may prevent your body from absorbing other minerals that you also need. (1)
Iron carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. During pregnancy, the amount of blood in your body increases, so your need for iron may increase as well. The general recommendation for pregnant women is to consume between 17 and 30 mg of iron daily.
It is possible to overdose on iron, and for most people levels over 45 mg daily can be toxic. Even if you take less, iron supplements may wreak havoc on your digestive system. If you find you cannot tolerate them, talk to your doctor and ask for vegan prenatal vitamins without iron. (2)
This goes without saying, but if you already have little ones in the house, you should keep your iron supplements out of reach in child-proof containers. Sadly, iron overdose is the leading cause of poisoning in children under the age of 5, so keep them safely stowed away.
What’s the difference between folic acid and folate?
As you research the best pregnancy supplements for you, you’ll likely run across the folate vs. folic acid debate. So what’s the deal?
Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9. Folic acid is the synthetic, oxygenated counterpart of folate. Though the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, some studies suggest that folic acid may be harder to absorb and might even be carcinogenic in some people.
Based on the scientific evidence, it seems that the best prenatal vitamins contain folate, not folic acid. At any rate, we recommend getting the natural form of a vitamin whenever it’s safe and shown to be just as effective as the artificial version.
What’s the deal with DHA?
In addition to the supplements listed above, you should be getting enough Omega-3 DHA fatty acids to support baby’s nervous system. In particular, DHA Omega-3’s are beneficial to brain and eye development. Maternal DHA consumption is also associated with higher birth weight and lower risk of delivering pre-term. (3)
Our body doesn’t produce DHA, so we have to get it from our food. The richest sources of DHA are fish and certain marine plants. If you’re vegan, however, your best bet for getting enough is a DHA supplement in addition to your vegan pregnancy supplements.
Some prenatal vitamins contain DHA, but usually not in full amounts required during pregnancy. Usually, the source of this DHA is from fish, so check the ingredient sources carefully before you buy—or just see our vegan prenatal vitamin recommendations below!
Best vegan prenatal vitamin reviews
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the reviews of vegan prenatal vitamins. There are a lot of vitamins for pregnancy out there, but we’ve narrowed down some of the best options for plant-based practitioners.
Remember, these are only guides, and talking to your doctor will help you figure out your specific dosing and needs.
Let’s jump in!
Garden of Life MyKind Organic Whole Food Prenatal Vitamin Supplement
Garden of Life MyKind Organic Whole Food Prenatal Vitamin Supplements seems to be designed with the vegan mom in mind.
These organic prenatal vitamins are non-GMO, gluten-free, and get all their nutrients from whole food, plant sources.
Each day’s dose contains 30 mcg of B12. This is more than the recommended 6 mcg, but a higher dose is likely necessary for moms-to-be who don’t eat animal products. Garden of Life Prenatal Vitamins is also right on the money with 18 mg of iron, which is 100% of your daily value.
These natural prenatal vitamins from Garden of Life also contain 800 mcg folate instead of folic acid. Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9 and may be more effective than folic acid. Many customers picked this supplement specifically because the manufacturers chose folate over synthetic folic acid.
Though these prenatal vitamins include a stomach-soothing blend of organic ginger and peppermint, some women felt their morning sickness increased when they took these supplements.
Others weren’t pleased that they had to take three large pills a day to get the recommended dose on the bottle. We also don’t love that a daily dose only contains 2% recommended calcium.
However, happy customers report that these made them feel more energetic during their pregnancy than when taking other prenatal vitamins. Many gluten-sensitive moms were relieved to find a prenatal supplement they could take.
- Gluten-free and plant-based
- 800 mcg of natural folate
- Lots of B12 for vegans
- May increase morning sickness
- Must take 3 large pills daily
- Only 2% of calcium recommendation
Diet Standards Prenatal DHA – Algae-Based 100% Vegan Pills
Diet Standards Prenatal DHA is a good contender for an add-on supplement to take in addition to your normal prenatal vitamin. Three gel caps contain 825 mg of Omega-3 including 450 from plant-derived DHA.
Though most supplemental DHA is made from fish, Diet Standards Prenatal DHA is derived from algae. Not only is this vegan-approved, algae DHA tends to contain less mercury than similar products made from fish.
The manufacturers describe this DHA prenatal supplement as “very clean.” Customer comments suggest that a lot of people—not just pregnant women—pick this as their daily DHA supplement because of the high-quality, cruelty-free ingredients. Maybe your partner will even join you in taking this supplement in a show of pregnancy solidarity!
Though you will need to take three pills for day, most people found the gel caps easy to swallow and not unpleasant. Some customers seemed to have concerns about the consistency of the product, finding the company’s frequent changes to packaging and quantity frustrating.
Another reoccurring concern was the use of carrageenan in the pill casing. Studies have linked carrageenan to inflammation, cancer, and diabetes. As of 2016, a product that contains carrageenan can longer be labeled “organic.” (4)
Some people chose to forgo this supplement because of the presence of carrageenan. Others got creative: by cutting the tip of the gel caps, they could empty the algae-based DHA into juice or a smoothie. This way, they could get all the goodness without the risks associated with the casing.
- 450 mg of algae-based DHA
- Low mercury content compared to animal DHA
- Easy to swallow vegan-friendly gel caps
- Must take three pills a day
- Some concerns with product consistency
- Contains carrageenan
Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin
All Deva supplements are Vegan Society Certified, and their Vegan Prenatal Multivitamins definitely get the vegan seal of approval. Some highlights of the nutritional label include an abundance of B12 and 200% of your daily dose of Vitamin C. Better yet, you only have to take one per day!
Plenty of expecting moms love Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamins. The pills don’t have any odor or aftertaste. Even though these vitamins had the common side-effect of turning urine and breastmilk bright yellow (not harmful), women pick them over other natural prenatal vitamins.
In terms of ingredients, there are a few concerns. First, Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamins contain 500 mcg of folic acid, not natural folate. The 21 mg of iron is also a little high and a possible cause of the cases of stomach upset reported.
Finally, Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamins contain chamomile, an herb that some doctors recommend limiting during pregnancy. It’s not clear how much chamomile the supplement contains, or if it’s enough to be harmful. If you’re unsure if you should be consuming chamomile while pregnant, talk to your doctor.
- No odor or aftertaste
- 1000 mcg of B12
- Good source of Vitamin C
- Uses synthetic folic acid instead of folate
- May turn urine and breastmilk yellow
- Contains chamomile
Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin
Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin, in addition to all the necessary nutrients, contains probiotics, ginger, and raspberry leaves which support digestion. These vegan pregnancy vitamins provide 225 mcg B12 and 200 mg of calcium.
Rainbow Light Prenatal One supplements contain no wheat, gluten, sugar, yeast, or animal products. There are also no artificial colors, flavors, or other additives. One pill a day gives you everything you need.
Some customers report having higher energy while taking these supplements and an overall feeling of well-being throughout their pregnancy. However, others reported stomach upset or constipation and recommended taking Rainbow Light Prenatal One with a meal.
On the downside, Rainbow Light includes 30 mg of iron which is quite a lot and definitely has the potential to cause gastrointestinal side effects. The formula also contains folic acid, not folate. Some women also found the pills had a bad taste or were difficult to swallow.
Finally, we couldn’t review this product without at least mentioning some reports over the last few years of Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins being counterfeited. Rainbow Light assures customers that there are no known counterfeits of their product, but they also haven’t explained why some customers receive pills that look, smell, and taste different that previous batches.
All in all, if you’re not bothered by the talk of counterfeiting, Rainbow Light Prenatal One Multivitamin is a good option, particularly if your doctor says that you need a lot of iron or calcium.
- Decent calcium content
- Probiotics and ginger for digestion
- Only need one pill daily
- 30 mg of iron is well above recommendation
- Possible bad odor and taste
- Does not contain folate
NATURELO Prenatal Whole Food Multivitamin
Naturelo Prenatal Whole Food Multivitamin is another food-based supplement that delivers just enough of what vegan moms-to-be need. Each day’s dose provides 18 mg of iron, 10 mcg of B12, and 800 mg of natural, bioavailable folate.
In addition, Naturelo prenatal supplements contain 35% of your daily dose of calcium, which is perfect for vegans who may not get as much calcium in their diet. Besides the vitamin powders, the only other ingredient in these supplements is natural vegetable cellulose capsules.
Many customers love that this vitamin keeps the vitamin doses reasonable: no nutrient is present in excess of 200% the daily recommended dose. The 200%-level vitamins are D3 and folate, both of which vegans may struggle to consume in adequate amounts.
There aren’t any reports of Naturelo Prenatal Whole Food Multivitamins causing or worsening nausea. However, you would need to take three pills daily with a meal to follow the recommendations. This supplement also does not contain any DHA, so you’ll have to take that separately.
With all that said, this a well-rounded vegan prenatal vitamin and the fact that Naturelo haven’t tried to, erroneously, impress with ridiculous volumes is especially welcome. We like this one a lot.
- 800 mg of natural folate
- High dose of calcium
- Rich in vitamin D
- Respectable RDA levels
- Supports fetal brain development
- Three pills daily
- No DHA
So what are the best vegan prenatal vitamins?
Based on reviews from happy moms and moms-to-be, our choice is Naturelo Prenatal Whole Food Multivitamins. This vegan prenatal vitamin earns top points for containing natural folate and plenty of calcium, B12, and vitamin D. Customers also report that this supplement is easy on the stomach, likely due to its conservative iron content.
Naturelo Prenatal Whole Food Multivitamins would work best for expecting mothers who already eat a balanced diet. No one nutrient is provided in excess, so healthy women feel they’re not putting anything unneeded into their bodies. They love the balanced nutritional profile and believe it helps promote their health during pregnancy.
On the other hand, if your doctor says that you’re severely deficient in one particular nutrient, this supplement may not have enough to reverse your condition. Even though you’re taking three pills a day, you will also need to add another supplement for DHA.
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There’s probably no time of a woman’s life where she’s more aware of what she’s eating than during pregnancy. All the choices and advice are enough to overwhelm anyone, particularly if you’re not supported in your plant-based lifestyle.
Just remember to trust your instincts, find a caring doctor, and take those prenatal vitamins! Everything will be just fine.
About The Author:
Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention. She started happyhappyvegan.com back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living.
Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious, and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!
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- Sarah Burns | Are You Getting Enough Calcium During Pregnancy? | https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/nutrition/are-you-getting-enough-calcium-during-pregnancy/
- Abigail Adams | What Happens If Too Much Iron Supplement Is Taken? | https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/happens-much-iron-supplement-taken-6728.html
- Catherine Holecko, Medically Reviewed by Kevin O. Hwang, MD, MPH | DHA in Pregnancy: Should You Supplement? | https://www.everydayhealth.com/pregnancy/101/dha-in-pregnancy.aspx
- The Cornucopia Institute | Carrageenan Report and Buyer’s Guide | https://www.cornucopia.org/research/carrageenan-how-a-natural-food-additive-is-making-us-sick/