That famous saying about eating for two when pregnant may not be entirely true when we’re talking about calories, but it’s certainly true when we’re talking about nutritional needs during pregnancy, which drastically increases as you grow and support another life. And although you should always aim for a varied, healthy diet, it can sometimes be hard to reach your recommended daily intake of all your essential vitamins and minerals. This is especially true in the early months when morning sickness can really take its toll on your appetite, not to mention keeping it down.
Prenatal vitamins are dietary supplements made specifically for pregnant women to help you consume and absorb enough vitamins and minerals for you and your baby to thrive. Taking a good prenatal vitamin conveniently helps to fill any nutritional gaps your diet may have, and is associated with a reduced risk of certain pregnancy complications and birth defects.
Even if you’re not yet pregnant but are thinking about coming off your contraception or are trying to conceive, prenatal vitamins will help to prepare your body for pregnancy. Considering that you probably won’t know you’re expecting until you’re at least four or five weeks pregnant, they will also ensure your baby gets all the nutrients he needs right from the moment of conception and throughout the very early weeks, which is a crucial time for the development of the nervous system. For the best results, prenatal vitamins should be started at least one month before conception.
Breastfeeding mums, we haven’t forgotten about you! Although named “prenatal”, there are still benefits to continue taking your vitamins after the birth of your baby. The extra nutrients will reach your baby through your breastmilk for the very best start in life and will protect both you and your baby against nutrient depletion and unnecessary exhaustion.
Following are our top ten best prenatal vitamins that are available in Australia now. We have taken care to only choose high quality, rigorously tested products that are completely safe for you and your baby and that contain large enough amounts of essential nutrients to cover any gaps in your diet. Our range also includes several products suitable for those with dietary requirements such as allergies, intolerances and veganism so there’s something for every mum.
1. Elevit Healthy Baby Healthy Mum
Gold standard pregnancy supplement with the highest level of folic acid
When thinking of pregnancy vitamins, the one that instantly comes to mind to many of us is Elevit’s pregnancy multivitamin and mineral support. In an easy once daily tablet, Elevit provides high quality support starting from when you are trying to conceive, throughout your pregnancy and even further through your breastfeeding journey.
Unlike many other pregnancy supplements, Elevit has been specially formulated through years of research to meet and exceed the needs of women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive, whilst also providing her developing baby with the very best nutritional support for healthy growth.
Elevit has the distinction of offering a huge 800mcg of folic acid which is the highest level in any prenatal multivitamin available in Australia. Additionally, it contains a generous 60mg of iron to reduce the risk of iron deficiency and 220mcg of iodine for healthy development of baby’s brain, both of which meet the Australian daily recommended dietary intake of these nutrients.
This is the gold standard of pregnancy multivitamins in Australia and all round is our best pregnancy supplement. Your doctor and friends will likely recommend this to you, however its very high iron content can cause constipation in some women, so a good excuse to stay very well hydrated!
2. Blackmore’s Pregnancy & Breast-Feeding Gold
Developed as a result of thorough Australia research for Australian mums
Proudly Australian owned and formulated based on Australian pregnancy guidelines, Blackmore’s Pregnancy & Breast-Feeding Gold provides 20 important nutrients for mum-to-be and her baby.
Research conducted by the National Health and Medical Research Council, amongst other Australian government bodies, have developed guidelines based on their findings of the needs of pregnant Australian women.
Key findings found that on average, pregnant Australian women did not meet the recommended daily intake of iron, folic acid, vitamin D, DHA and in particular iodine, as there is an increased need for this during pregnancy.
In response to this, Blackmore’s Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding Gold contains ideal amounts of these nutrients so as well as keeping your energy levels up, you can be confident that your nutritional needs are met and that baby is developing well, making this product amongst the best pregnancy multivitamins for women in Australia.
This product is gentle on the stomach and less likely to cause constipation than other pregnancy multivitamins due to the lower amount of iron. The smaller sized capsules simply slide down your throat and are much easier to swallow than large powder coated tablets.
3. Swisse Ultinatal Pre-Conception and Pregnancy
Gentle on the stomach from pre-conception to breastfeeding
These premium quality pregnancy vitamins from Swisse provide support before, during and after pregnancy in an easy to swallow capsule. Containing 21 important vitamins and minerals, it’s gentle on the stomach with most women reporting no negative side effects such as nausea and constipation.
With a generous 500mcg of folic acid, Swisse Ultinatal Pre-Conception and Pregnancy also contains high doses of other targeted key nutrients such as iodine, omega-3 DHA, choline and vitamin D to help prepare your body for pregnancy when taken up to a month before conception, and continue to provide nutritional support to both you and your baby throughout your pregnancy.
Tested for mercury and other heavy metals and contaminants, you can be completely confident that this product is totally safe for you and your developing or breastfeeding baby.
Vegetarians, unfortunately this product is not suitable for you as it contains fish and bovine derived ingredients.
4. Fabfol Pregnancy Tab
This gentle formulation of 12 key nutrients is Kosher and Halal certified
Understanding that pregnant and breastfeeding women have increased nutritional needs, Fabfol Pregnancy Tabs provide 12 key vitamins and minerals to help you achieve the recommended dietary intake.
All 12 of the nutrients selected for inclusion in this product are those that are required in increased amounts during pregnancy as Fabfol understands that it can be difficult to reach these amounts through diet alone, especially during the first trimester when morning sickness may be ruining your appetite.
The packaging features a very handy 28 day calendar so you can be certain you’ve been taking your tablet every day (your pregnancy brain won’t win here!) and that yours and your baby’s nutritional needs have been looked after.
Fabfol is vegetarian friendly as none of the nutrients or ingredients are sourced from animal products. It’s also Kosher and Halal certified and contains no nasties such as added preservatives, artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners.
The gentle formulation won’t upset your already delicate stomach and although it has been developed primarily for the use of pregnant or lactating women, this product is also suitable as a general multivitamin for men or non-pregnant women.
Best For Coeliacs
5. Nature Made Prenatal plus DHA
Charged with DHA and B vitamins
Containing the full recommended daily intake of crucial nutrient DHA for the healthy development of your baby’s brain and eyes, Nature Made Prenatal plus DHA is the perfect option for you if you don’t regularly eat fish or otherwise need a boost in your Omega 3s.
Also containing all eight B vitamins and at least the recommended daily intake of folic acid, iron and iodine, this little once daily gel capsule really packs it in. There is, however, lower than average levels of calcium so if calcium intake is of concern to you, you may prefer a different prenatal multivitamin or an additional calcium supplement.
Suitable for coeliacs as this product is completely gluten free, it also boasts no artificial flavours. Taken once a day, it’s best taken alongside food and water to take full advantage of every nutrient and to reduce the likelihood of upsetting your stomach. Clinically proven to effectively absorb the maximum amount of each and every key nutrient, nothing will go wasted.
Best For Vegans
6. Naturelo Prenatal Multivitamin
30 vitamins and minerals sourced naturally in a vegan formulation
This complete multivitamin supports your energy levels as well as your nutritional needs naturally throughout your pregnancy and breastfeeding journey by providing good amounts of 30 important vitamins and minerals as well as the essential Omega-3 DHA.
Made with a plant based DHA from algae and Vitamin D3 sourced from plants rather than lanolin, Naturelo Prenatal is vegan, soy free, gluten free, non GMO with no additives or preservatives, so it’s suitable for mums with many specific dietary requirements. It’s easy to digest and well tolerated because it’s made from real, natural ingredients with capsules made of vegetable cellulose, and unlike many tablets, contain no binders, colours or flavours.
The recommended dose is three capsules per day and they are quite large in size, so if you find them hard to swallow even you can simply open the capsules and empty the powder into your food or drink without compromising on quality or missing out on any nutrients. The taste of the powder is quite neutral and it’s best mixed with foods with the consistency of yoghurt or a thick smoothie. This is the perfect solution for mums who have found themselves with a strong gag reflex or who otherwise have difficulty swallowing tablets.
best for morning sickness
7. Garden of Life Vitamin Code
Sourced from raw whole ingredients with a special digestive blend
With a strong emphasis on both mum and baby in equal parts, Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal has been specially formulated from raw whole ingredients to best support the healthy growth of your baby as well as your increased nutritional needs.
There’s also the bonus of added ginger, which has been shown to ease the unpleasant symptoms of morning sickness, and a special digestive blend to make this multivitamin extra gentle on delicate stomachs and reduce constipation and other digestive issues.
Twenty three organically grown fruits and vegetables supply the essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants including probiotics for the best in immune system support. There’s a whopping 800mcg of folic acid for healthy neural tube development however it should be noted that the formulation does not include DHA which you may choose to source elsewhere, especially if you are vegetarian or otherwise do not consume much fish.
Raw, vegetarian and free of gluten, dairy, binders and fillers, this could well be the next best thing to eating whole foods to reach your recommended dietary intake of key nutrients, and it provides benefits from pre-conception all the way through to the breastfeeding weeks and months (or years).
There’s no strange smell or weird aftertaste to these prenatal multivitamins making them ideal for mums-to-be who are experiencing a heightened sense of smell and taste during their pregnancy.
best for allergies
8. One a Day Women’s Prenatal 1
Rigorously tested soft gel capsules ideal for mums with food allergies
As its name suggests, you only need to take one of these soft gel capsules a day to receive full nutritional support before, during and after pregnancy. This trusted name in women’s multivitamins and prenatals is highly supportive, containing 19 nutrients, including 100% of your recommended intake of folic acid, omega-3 fatty acids including DHA, as well as other key nutrients iron, Vitamin D and calcium, although the latter is in relatively small amounts.
One a Day Women’s Prenatal has been through over a hundred rigorous quality tests to ensure complete safety to you and your baby. There are no flavours or sweeteners added and it’s free of many common allergens including wheat, soy, fish, dairy and egg, making it an ideal choice for those with dietary allergies or intolerances.
The capsules do have a particular smell to them which can only be described as slightly “fishy” despite the fact they contain no fish. They are however almost completely flavourless, leave no nasty aftertaste and despite their size they slide down the throat easily.
9. SmartyPants Prenatal Formula
Chewable fruity gummies with easily absorbed folate
SmartyPants Prenatal Complete Daily Gummy is a chewable prenatal multivitamin containing fifteen nutrients carefully chosen and formulated using premium ingredients with no synthetic colours or flavours.
Folate is delivered in the form of methylfolate, which is said to be superior and more easily absorbed than the more common folic acid. Other key nutrients also include omega-3 EPA and DHA, Vitamin B12 for optimal energy production and Vitamins D and K for bone health.
There is no iron supplement in this product, which on the plus side diminishes the risk of unpleasant side effects such as constipation, however if low iron levels or anaemia are an issue for you, then you should consider seeking an additional iron supplement.
The fish oil is sustainably sourced from wild caught small fish, and to avoid that fishy taste, the oil is spread over a daily dose of four gummies rather than just one. They are pleasantly fruit flavoured, hardly a chore to take, and if you have trouble taking tablets or capsules, these are the perfect alternative. Free of most common allergens including wheat, gluten, egg, soy, dairy, peanuts and tree nuts, these are also safe for mums with allergies.
10. Best Nest Vegan Prenatal DHA
Rich in quality Omega 3s for the ultimate in baby’s neurodevelopment
Best Nest Vegan Prenatal DHA is an award winning, premium omega-3 and DHA supplement formulated by a neurologist to readily provide the very best for mum’s wellbeing and baby’s healthy neurodevelopment. Third party tested for quality, it delivers an easily absorbable 250mg of omega-3 and 1000mg of DHA, both of which are more than the recommended daily intake.
Made from sustainable algae and seaweed rather than fish oil or synthetics, it’s not only natural but also completely vegan and cruelty free. Also free of nasties such as preservatives and artificial colours and flavours, and allergens such as dairy, nuts, soy and gluten, it’s suitable for mums to be with specific dietary requirements.
The small soft gels are half the size of regular gel tablets, making them easy to swallow. There’s virtually no aftertaste and minimal chance of any negative side effects due to the short ingredient list, leaving you to enjoy the boost to your mood and sleep quality whilst knowing that your baby is receiving the nutrients required for optimal neurodevelopment.
How to choose a prenatal vitamin
What vitamins and minerals should you look out for when choosing a prenatal vitamin? This handy list goes through the key vitamins and minerals you’ll need in abundance, and why.
- Folate. A B group vitamin called “folic acid” when in supplement form, this is arguably the most important nutrient you should look for when choosing a supplement. Sufficient folate has been proven to help develop the nervous system and prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Spina bifida occurs during the very first weeks of pregnancy, probably before you are even aware that you are pregnant, which is why it’s important you have a diet high in folate, or take a prenatal vitamin rich in folate, when trying to conceive. 400mcg per day is the minimum recommended amount to protect against this.
- Iron. As you supply increased blood and oxygen supply to your baby, the demand for iron goes up to keep up with this increase. A crucial mineral during pregnancy, it protects against anaemia in you and low birth weight of your baby. Exhaustion, fatigue, dizziness and even difficulty in breathing are all signs of anaemia, which occurs commonly in pregnant women, and along with regular pregnancy symptoms are not pleasant. In the final weeks of pregnancy, your baby will absorb some of your stores into his own bloodstream to start life with optimal iron levels. It’s also worth noting that taking too much iron can lead to uncomfortable symptoms like constipation, so perhaps look for a prenatal vitamin with a relatively low level of iron, if any, if your iron levels are typically high.
- Iodine. This mineral is crucial for brain development and physical growth. It maintains normal thyroid function which controls metabolism and heart rate and although not common in Australia, iodine deficiency in pregnancy is the leading cause of intellectual disability worldwide.
- Omega-3. In particular omega-3 docosahexaenoic acid (or DHA), which can be challenging to get enough of with diet alone unless you very regularly eat fatty fish like salmon and mackeral. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital in pregnancy, acting as building blocks in the growth of your baby’s brain and retinas. There’s even some new evidence suggesting adequate intake can protect against pre-term labour, preeclampsia, and lower the risk of postnatal depression.
- Calcium. Crucial for bone health, calcium is what forms baby’s bones and teeth. It also plays a part in supporting your baby’s heart, muscles and nerves, so it’s not to be taken lightly. You give your baby all the calcium he needs from your own supply, so if that’s in short supply then although you’re unlikely to notice anything in the short term, long term consequences include weakened bones and increased risk of osteoperosis.
- Vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for bone health, controlling calcium levels in the blood, as well as the function of muscles and nerves. Deficiency is extremely common in Australian women, particularly if you have a darker complexion and therefore less able to absorb it from the sun. Optimal levels have been found to decrease the risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and low birth rate. Like calcium, your baby will take all the Vitamin D he needs from your own supply, so it’s a good idea to keep topped up daily.
- Choline. You probably haven’t heard as much about choline as you have the other nutrients on this list, but it’s considered an essential nutrient and particularly during pregnancy. It helps greatly with cognitive function, including information processing speed in infants and memory in older children, with some studies suggesting that choline deficiency during the first few years of life may negatively affect brain function for life. As choline is found in egg yolk, meat, fish and dairy, vegetarians and vegans will likely have trouble getting enough of it through diet alone, so if this describes you, you should strongly consider it as a key nutrient in any prenatal you choose.