Prescription Vs. over the Counter Prenatal Vitamins

Updated on September 23, 2010
L.K. asks from Saint Paul, MN
51 answers

Does anyone have an opinion on whether prescription prenatal vitamins are better than over the counter??

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answers from Minneapolis on

Prescription prenatals made me so sick and my doctor said that the over the counter pills were exactly the same... even recommended Flinstone Vitamins to take!

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answers from Detroit on

I avoided both perscription and over the counter. I opted for a natural prenatal vitamin, it not only provided you with the essentials that your body needs, but was also a great multi-vitamin. I continued to take it following my son's birth. It was a great helper while breastfeeding.
It is by Nature's Sunshine. If you're interested check out my website;


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on

i prefer high grade stuff I have been using "before baby boost" by sound formulas and this stuff is really high end. I get mine from momEmineral and her quality is top notch.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

In addition to any prenatal, of which I wouldn't do if I were to do it over again, is to make sure of how much of these I would be getting:

Vitamin D3 - at least 2,000 mg a day adding more if I were feeling /are sick, up to 10,000 mg in that case.

Omega 3 - the important part of the Omega 3 supplements is the DHA especially for brain development which will happen around week 22 on. EPA could cause blood thinning which is a good thing for cholesterol and such but not pregnancy so look for one that is lower on that amount and higher in the DHA. Carlsons makes a good one.

Avoid vaccines. Do the research and decide for yourself what is best for you and your baby. Go to for the latest of what Dr. Robert Sears as to say.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

The absolute best prenatal vitamins you can find are the Melaleuca prenatal vitamins. They have a patented oligo complex that helps the nutrients absorb better than any other vitamins out there. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll show you how to order them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You and the baby would be better off getting your extra nutrition from fruits, vegetables and whole grains and by adding Juice Plus fruit and vegetable capsules. It's concentrated food, not a supplement (28 fruits, veggies, berries juiced and dehydrated - no herbacides, pesticides, sugar or salt remains, nutrition/enzymes stay intact). Dr. William Sears believes, due to the incredible research proving it improves help and helps sustain pregnancy, that it will become the standard of care for pregnant women. I have a great webinar on this, some stats on pregnancy results I can forward to you, or you can check out the research and what the docs say at Good luck!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I found an awesome prenatal from the herbal store I go i was having issues finding a prenatal that gave me energy....check it out...its called Nature's Prenatal by Nature's Sunshine. I recommend this one or one without all the added things you don't need like dyes

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

I started out taking over the counter from walmart, and then switched to a prenatal from Maleluca, and I've felt better on the Maleluca one. Their vitamins are formulated so that you absorb more of the nutrients than you would from the regular over the counter, or even the prescription vitamins. I would be happy to give you any more information about Maleluca and how to get them, I've really been happy with the results!


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Vitamins and minerals are substances needed by your body to help carry out special functions. They help your body use the foods you eat. Vitamins are essential to life, and with few exceptions cannot be made by anyones body, but must be supplemented in the diet in addition to the food you eat.

Vitamins are easily destroyed and washed out during food preparation and storage. Vitamins are either fat-soluble or water-soluble. Vitamins are important building blocks of the body and help keep you in good health.

Vitamins and minerals can be toxic at certain high dosages. Vitamins themselves have been known to cause constipation and gas. While taking vitamins before pregnancy may help with morning sickness, taking them at the beginning of pregnancy can make nausea worse. Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that are essential to life. They are required in relatively small amounts, in contrast to the macronutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. It is important that the vitamins you select are easily asorbed into your system.

Vitamins, herbs, and other supplements are not regularly tested by any government organization. Only continually evaluates nutritional supplements in a laboratory environment. You can compare brands on this site. A person's diet must provide all the necessary vitamins. Vitamins are natural substances found in plants and animals. Your body uses these substances to stay healthy and support its many functions.

Antioxidants repair the body from the day-to-day stresses of life. All fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which is just one of the reasons why consuming large quantities of fruits and vegetables will keep you healthier longer. Eat the necessary amount of fruits and vegetables daily, check for recommended amounts.

Water-soluble vitamins are different. When you eat foods that have water-soluble vitamins, the vitamins don't get stored as much in your body. The body must use water-soluble vitamins right away or they get flushed out of the body. It is a waste of money to take mega doses of a vitamin only to flush them down the toilet! Any left over water-soluble vitamins leave the body through the urine. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve easily in water, and in general, are readily excreted from the body, to the degree that urinary output is a strong predictor of vitamin consumption. Bright yellow urine is a sign of vitamin secretion in the urine. Because they are not readily stored, consistent daily intake is important.

Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestinal tract with the help of fats in the body. Because fat soluble vitamins are more likely to accumulate in the body, they are more likely to lead to excess vitamins in the body being accumulated in the body than are water-soluble vitamins.

Supplements are not substitutes. They can't replace the hundreds of nutrients in the foods of a balanced diet. Supplements do not replace a healthy diet but rather ensure that a woman is receiving enough daily nutrients. Vitamin supplements work best when taken as part of a healthy diet and not as a substitute for a healthy diet.

Natural vitamins are generally more expensive than synthetic vitamins. If you want to purchase only natural vitamins, be sure to read the labels.

Eating the right mix of vitamins and minerals will help you feel and look your best at any age. Eat iron-rich foods along with foods containing vitamin C, which aids absorption. Good sources of iron include dried figs and prunes, dark-green leafy greens, legumes, certain whole grains such as quinoa and millet, blackstrap molasses, nuts and nutritional yeast.

A variety of potent and essential antioxidants, that defend the body against the dangers of free radicals, should be included in any vitamin or multivitamin. Among the most popular antioxidants are: coenzyme Q 10, which is vital for heart and liver health, as well as for the production of cellular energy; selenium for immune functioning and possibly a reduction in certain degenerative diseases, such as cancer; and lutein, which has been shown to offer unbelievable visual benefits.

Most important is to maintain a balance. Consider everything you put into your body is also shared by your growing child. Drink water and Get plenty of rest.

If anyone would like a recomendation or to receive a cellular level antioxidant scan email me.



answers from Los Angeles on

I've been taking rx chewable Prenatals for about 5 years now (before, during, and after pregnancy). I had to go with prescriptions because I have a difficult time swallowing pills. They taste terrible. I suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum during my pregnancy and couldn't keep them down half the time. My Ob-Gyn said Flintstones or Gummis would be fine, as long as I added Folic Acid (in a pill form which was not doable). I ended up working with the chewables and still currently take them.


answers from Chicago on

I couldn't handle any prenatal vitamins. My doctor said to take two childrens chewables every day. Worked fine for me and they're good!



answers from Philadelphia on

This is just an opinion, I'm no expert... but I've tried both and at first for the first and half of the second trimester I was trying an all natural vegan prenatal by Rainbow Light, but they tasted absolutely terrible (which didn't help morning sickness) and were so big to swallow I would gag. They didn't seem to be doing anything extraordinary for me, except they were cheap. So I asked if I could get prescription prenatals (Prenatabs) instead. These were smaller (easier to swallow) and had no taste. I don't know if it has anything to do with it, but my hair and nails seemed to get a lot better too. All I know for sure is if your prenatal has enough of each vitamin and mineral plus folic acid, you should be in the clear.



answers from Albuquerque on

They are both very similar. I think the most important thing is a formulation that does not make you vomit and everyone's stomach is a little different. I liked CVS and Naturemade vitamins


answers from Milwaukee on

I can see that you are really looking for good quality in what you take.

I can lead you to a prenatal vitamin that is safe and natural if you are interested go to type in. or contact me and I will help you


answers from Sarasota on

In my opinion the best prenatal multivitamin on the market is Isotonix. The key to any vitamin is just how much our bodies absorb. Normally, when you ingest a daily vitamin, your body must work for up to four hours digesting and absorbing the vitamins and nutrients. During this breakdown process a percentage of the nutritive value is lost. Isotonix prenatal is a powder mixed with an exact amount of water. This mixture bears the same fluid pressure as body fluids therefore about 98 % of the nutrients are passed immediately through the small intestine. Enough about science, It tastes great and you don't get sick to your stomach. I love this product as well as the entire line of Isotonix. My whole family is on them and we have never felt healthier. Email me at if you would like me to send you a link for more information.



answers from Minneapolis on

My OB said over the counter were just fine. the only difference between the two are price.


answers from York on

I took prescriptioned prenatals that included a stool softener because I had major constipation issues during my pregnancy. I guess I could have taken an over-the-counter prenatal vitamin and a separate stool softener. I have never seen an over-the-counter prenatal that included a stool softener which was partly why I went with the prescription. Also, with my insurance the prescription was much cheaper than buying over-the-counter.


answers from Fort Collins on

Check out the information on Juice Plus and also visit the web site It's a great source for expectant moms, new moms, etc. There is an amazing study underway



answers from Chicago on

I liked Rainbow Light because it was OTC, more natural and includes food ingredients that help with nausea like ginger. Extremely affordable, easy on the stomach and available at CVS or

The first-ever food-based, once-daily multivitamin for pregnant and nursing women. Features a complete spectrum of essential vitamins and minerals necessary for mother and baby with herbs traditionally used to support a healthy pregnancy and ease digestio n, such as red raspberry and fresh ginger juice


answers from Indianapolis on

I completely disagree with everyone else who says not to take an Rx.

My OB/GYN wanted me on specific Rx prenatal vitamins with both pregnancies because of the quality of the ingredients vs. OTC. Yes, they may be more expensive (check with your local pharmacies - we have one here in the Indianapolis area that offers Rx prenatal vitamins FREE).

With an Rx product, it is legally required to go through several years of clinical trials and safety monitoring as long as it's on the market - this is the main reason they're as expensive as they are.

An OTC product may be FDA registered, but all that means is that they have submitted theactive ingredients to the FDA - they may have NO clinical trials to support their claims and generally no safety monitoring required.

That being said, even generic products are NOT the same as Branded Rx products. There are several manufacturers usually, and it doesn't have to be identical to the original brand to be available.

Some food for thought. Honestly, the $25/month I spent with my first child for Natelle Prefer was worth every single penny. In this case, I honestly believe you get what you pay for.

Good luck with your pregnancy.



answers from Austin on

My doctor said they were the same thing but cost less. I had 7 lb twins induced at 38 weeks. He couldn't be all wrong. If your worried get your doctors opinion.


answers from Minneapolis on

I have no idea. I just go with over the counter cheap ones. I didn't know they had prescription.


answers from Phoenix on

My doctor said it didn't matter. I chose the prescription because with my insurance they were cheaper than over the counter. Although I also had to take extra Folic Acid on top of the vitamins, and OTC was cheaper than the prescription for those.



answers from Columbus on

I asked my doctor the same thing and she told me that OTC prenatal vitamins are not regulated by the FDA so they can contain anything, including things that may not be healthy for the baby. She recommends taking prescription, which actually didn't cost me any more than the OTC brands!


answers from San Francisco on

I LOVE the Melaleuca vitamins, they are absolutely the BEST out there!!! They don't make you sick, 85% more absorbable, so you can truly feel a difference when taking these vitamins. They give you more energy and help you function at your best on less sleep, perfect for new moms! I would love to share this with you and all who are interested!


answers from San Francisco on

Your very best bet is too spend the extra money and buy vitamins from a family physician such as a Doctor of Chiropractic. A top quality brand for pregnancy and breastfeeding is Nutri-West , the very best whole food based product for mamas out there. You can trust that nothing synthetic or artificial is added. You local family chiropractor can order them for you because you can't buy them at the heath food store.


Your very best bet is too spend the extra money and buy vitamins from a family physician such as a Doctor of Chiropractic. A top quality brand for pregnancy and breastfeeding is Nutri-West , the very best whole food based product for mamas out there. You can trust that nothing synthetic or artificial is added. You local family chiropractor can order them for you because you can't buy them at the heath food store.



answers from Phoenix on

Melaleuca is the best. Don't buy from Walmart, Costco or Prescription. Our bodies won't absorb all the nutrients and the antioxidants get damaged in the process. Melaleuca is best or get the ones that have whole foods in them. My chiropractor wants me on the ones that have whole foods but I have such GREAT results from Melaleuca's Prenatals (and my family uses their vitamins too) that I won't switch...


answers from Killeen on

well my husband has worked in the Pharmacy for almost 20 years and just almost 7 years ago we started taking some supplements and then he later did a comparison and found that the supplements we were taking and the prescribed prenatal vitamins didn't even compare. So with that said I make sure that anyone I know who is pregnant, trying to get pregnant, take the supplements we take (non-prescribed) not over the counter because you can only get them from us or any other associate. The most important thing is to do your research.


answers from Sioux Falls on

Prenatal vitamins are specifically formulated for you and your baby's nutritional needs during your pregnancy. More of certain vitamins and minerals and less of others. I would go with pharmaceutical grade vitamins. Vitamins are not regulated by the FDA. That means that almost all OTC vitamins are not tested by batch. What it says is in the bottle is not necessarily in every pill, which is pretty scary! So. if you don't want to go through your doctor, you are putting yourself at risk. The only vitamin manufacturer in the country that tests EVERY SINGLE batch they manufacture for consistency, potency and quality is Anabolic Laboratories. They manufacture pharmaceuticals too. Other companies say they test. But it is random, or every so many batches.



answers from Minneapolis on

I was percribed a prenatal vitamin as well because my iron and a few other levels in my blood were a little lower than normal. OTC Prenatal vitamins were not going to be good enough according to my dr., so he perscribed me with a perscription, all of which my insurance covered so it was actually cheaper for me to have the better vitamin.

If insurance will cover it, go with the perscription. Evaluate the costs...if you're paying less for the perscription, even if your insurance won't cover the entire cost, it still might be cheaper than the ones that are OTC.



answers from Minneapolis on

I used OTC with my first, but decided to fill the scrip this time around. (We had some cash in the flex spending account to use up, so what the heck, right?)

I found the ones my doctor prescribed to be easier to take (slightly better taste) and WAY easier on my stomach. I only got 2 months worth; I've already spent more on these than on the 2 year supply of Cub's knockoff of the Stuart Prenatals I used the first time. There's plenty of folic acid in either one.

Bottom line, if you're early on and you feel queasy with an OTC vitamin, try the Rx. If you're past the queasy stage, I'd skip it.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

My midwife said that over the counter were just as good as the Rx version & you can save some money. She had me just use the Target Prenatal. If you are worried you can always take an additional Folic Acid & Fish Oil pill a couple days a week. My child turned out just fine with what we did! =)



answers from Minneapolis on

According to my OB, OTC are just as good as prescriptions, but like the other mom said. Go with what's cheaper.


answers from Wichita on

I like the Melaleuca prenatal vitamins. I have not been able to take vitamins before. These I can eat something or not. They come with a 60 guarantee, so Iif I did'nt like them I could send back the empty bottle and get my money back. Have so much more energy. I have always been a sickley person. I am pregant with my 3 child an am having a hard time but I am faithful the my vitamins.

Tarah C.



answers from Minneapolis on

If getting them by prescription makes them cheaper, go that route. If not, get OTC. They are pretty much the same thing. I couldn't take them when I was pg, they made me sick. Even regular vitamins are ok to take. I didn't take any at all, although I know it is recommended to take them if you can tolerate them. If you are unsure about which to take, ask your doc who prescribed them.


answers from Dallas on

Maybe... Both Prescription and OTC vitamins have a lot in common. What I'd look for are vitamins that are exceptional in the following ways:
1. Manufacturer has a long and good track record.
2. Manufacturer uses pharmaceutical production and quality control standards.
3. Manufacturer has high ethical standards, elects to not produce a highly profitable product if quality standards cannot be met.
4. Manufacturer offers cutting edge products and delivery systems. [Patented delivery system for Folic Acid – to get it into your body better.]
5. Products are proven to be bioavailable.

By a stroke of good luck I found a nutrition company that meets all of the above criteria in 1983, and have used them ever since. Our daughters have blessed us with 6 grandchildren from 3 years to 22 years, and with each pregnancy I have recommended these products –and each time the physician has said something like “Take them, they are better than what I prescribe.”

My Credentials:

Father of 3 daughters, Grandfather of 6.
Ph.D, Duke and Post-Doctoral Fellow, Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, duke University Medical School.
3 decades of teaching scientific research design and statistical analysis skills at various Universities.
Winemaker, etc.

I am not a physician. I do not prescribe. I can suggest that you explore the following products and discuss them with your doctor:

Basic Prenatal Nutrition: Vitalizer with Iron from Shaklee
If your doctor thinks you should have more Calcium Shaklee offers two product choices.

For more information and to learn how to obtain these products at a discount visit :

With sincere wishes for Blessed Birthing and Pleasurable Parenting,

B. A.


answers from San Diego on

There was a study done to determine the quality of prescription prenatal vitamins through assessment of folic acid (one of the most important vitamins needed during pregnancy) dissolution. This study found only 3 out of 9 products met the USP specifications for folic acid release. Most missed by a WIDE MARGIN! (2 were under 25%)

"CONCLUSIONS: Because a wide variety of brand-name and generic prescription prenatal multivitamin products were tested, these results are likely to be representative of the multivitamin products on the market."

I completely agree, not just when it comes to prescription, but also to all brands of vitamins. This study not only proves that prescription prenatals are not reliable, but that you do need to do your research when it comes to the quality, bioavailability, absorption, and purity of your supplements. In this market, you really do get what you pay for. There are several brands that I would recommend. I personally love USANA; I took them during my first pregnancy and after, felt great, and would highly recommend them along with Floradix for iron supplementation. During my second pregnancy, I tried Rainbow Light, also supposed to be a high quality supplement, but I did not feel the benefits of it, and missed my USANA (which I am now back on). There are also several liquid, isotonic supplements that are supposed to be good as well, but I have not personally tried them yet.

Here's a link to USANA:

I highly suggest you check out some of the articles on my website for more information:

Best of luck finding what is right for you. For tons of great information on nutrition and other natural therapies for preconception through postpartum and baby care, be sure to visit my website at We have experts available in our forum to give you reliable answers about you and your family's health, and a directory to help you find the right practitioners in your area. Also, we always have a great giveaway going on!

To your health,
J. Aliano
Founder, CEO Natural Baby Pros


answers from Dallas on

The Landmark Study that Angie mentioned also showed that using a synthetic vitamin was worse for health than taking nothing at all. So I would steer clear of any synthetic whether Rx or OTC. If you want to see the study it is at No other company besides Shaklee has any proof such as this that their vitamins are safe and effective. And Shaklee tests every batch, not one in ten that drug companies do.
Most vitamins in the store are made in China.



answers from Minneapolis on

I've been taking the Sams Club brand of prenatal vitamins for about 2 years now (still nursing). I bought them and took them to my dr. He checked the lable and had one of them tested to be sure. And he said their the same thing only a difference in name and cost. Save ursself the money I get a bottle of 300 for $8.00. Good luck


answers from Seattle on

I started to take vitamin supplement from Costco and they never work and then switched to a multivitamin and mineral supplements from Maleluca. I've felt better on the Maleluca one. It has already made the news, and if you take vitamins you need to read the research., Their vitamins binds minerals to organic compounds (oligofructose and amino acids) to mirror the way minerals are found in fruits and vegetables to help resolve the problems with traditional multivitamins. I would be happy to give you any more information about Maleluca and how to get them.




answers from Minneapolis on

Prescription prenatals made me so sick and my doctor said that the over the counter pills were exactly the same... even recommended Flinstone Vitamins to take!



answers from Anchorage on

I really, really like the prenatals from Pharmanex. They are a national company and you have to buy from a person that sells them (my parents do) but they are very high quality. I had 2 nine pound babies on them, and really felt that they improved my health. They come in a little packet, with three capsules in it, and I think they run about $30 per month. Well worth it, I believe.

Best wishes and blessings


answers from Honolulu on

I like the Isotonix Prenatal Vitamin. It's a powder form and mix with very small amount of water, and it absorb within 5 minutes, 95% absorbtion rate. I have been taking Isotonix form of vitamin and anti-oxidants for more than 9 years and see some amazing life change event happened.

I had a patient was so sick and could not keep anything down. We had to give her IV form of anti-nausea medication for quiet a few weeks. I give her the Isotonix form of prenatal vitamin and she tried then two days later, she feel much better. Yesterday she came and knock on the door and ask for more.

Isotonic, which means “same pressure,” bears the same chemical resemblance of the body’s blood, plasma and tears. All fluids in the body have a certain concentration, referred to as osmotic pressure. The body’s common osmotic pressure, which is isotonic, allows a consistent maintenance of body tissues. In order for a substance to be absorbed and used in the body’s metabolism, it must be in an isotonic state.

Isotonix dietary supplements are delivered in an isotonic solution. This means that the body has less work to do to obtain maximum absorption of the nutrients. The isotonic state of the suspension allows nutrients to pass directly into the small intestine and rapidly absorb into the bloodstream. With Isotonix products, little nutritive value is lost, making the absorption of nutrients highly efficient while delivering maximum results.

check Isotonix prenatal vitamine on:



answers from Minneapolis on

My doctor said my regular vitamins were fine, as long as I added folic acid as well. I was taking Centrum Chewables that were easier on my stomach.


answers from Dover on

In my experience, prescription prenatal vitamins are regular ones that they stick a prescription label on. Not to say all are the same but sometimes they do that because it gets them at a lesser cost for someone w/ insurance. I would suggest Oligo prenatal vitamins...they are better quality/more effective than what you find in the local stores. Contact me if you want more info.


answers from Minneapolis on

If you are pregnant, I recommend the prescription because they have more folic acid.
If you are nursing or just taking prenatal vitamins versus regular, OTC is fine.
I checked them out with my last pregnancy a year ago and the deviation in minerals didn't vary much except for the folic acid which is crucial when pregnant.
Hope that helps!



answers from Minneapolis on

I had taken the prescription (prenatal RX & prenatal elite) I believe were the names, there is more folic acid.



answers from Phoenix on

I take Trader Joe's prenatal vitamins and love them. They're the first prenatal vitamin that didn't make me feel nauseous. They're $12 for a bottle of 60.


answers from Raleigh on

A friend of mine's doctor told her that taking two of the Flinstone vitamins gives you everything you need while pregnant. She has had very healthy pregnancies and children, so I figure there must be something to it!



answers from Minneapolis on

I would highly recommend getting them at a Whole Foods/CoOp. The people that work behind the counter in that area of the store are very knowledgeable and will point you in the right direction as far as the vitamin that your body absorbs the most of or whatever other criteria you're looking for. I did it this way and was very happy with the one I chose from their recommendations. Hope this helps :)



answers from San Francisco on

The best prenatal that worked for me was Stuart Prenatal - over the counter. You can find it in CVS pharm. I tried a few others before but they caused a lot of hair loss, were too big to swallow - add that to the already throwing up feeling all the time.

This prenatal isn't as big as the others. The only drawback is that this does not have DHA. I took separate DHA supplements.

Other info :
I took extra Iron supplement - "slow Fe" - once in 2 days.
I took "Citrical calcium with Vitamin D" every day - 250 mg.
One prenatal every night.
DHA supplement.

I know it seems like a lot but its worth it. :)



answers from Washington DC on

I definitely would NOT take any Rx vitamins... They are synthetic! Go with a whole food vitamin! I took New Chapter Pre-Natal with both of my pregnancies. I love them and use their whole line. They are the only organic whole food vitamin on the market, so I have been told... and I took them the entire 2 years I breast fed. My whole family takes them and my toddlers take the New Chapter whole food vitamin pouches (fruit & veggies) They think its their treat!
I used to get them at Whole Foods but they were getting expensive for the whole family! about $100 a month, and then I found!!! I LOVE this site for everything and only $5.00 for S&H for your ENTIRE order! I get my organic shampoos, bubble baths, laundry det., homeopathic medicines, etc. They even carry some food items. I save 30-70% off!!
Also, I have never personally used Shaklee, but I have only heard Excellent things about the company & products!
But I recommend VC to everyone I know!
Good Luck!

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