Thursday, September 15, 2016

What To Look For and Avoid In Prenatal Vitamins

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor; please talk with your OBGYN or midwife about which prenatal vitamin will be best for you. Sometimes, even with the best prenatals and diet, your blood work will show that you still need additional supplementation.

Prenatal vitamins and pregnancy tend to go hand in hand, but how do you know which one to choose? They all promise to be the best for Baby and Mom. Unfortunately, many prenatals often contain additives and fillers that are not healthy, even in foods. If moms are choosing to eat healthfully, go organic, and avoid fillers and preservatives in foods, why would they take a prenatal that contains the very ingredients they are trying to avoid? How can moms pick a great prenatal vitamin without all the guesswork?

First of all, you will want to typically look for: 600 mcg folic acid, 150 mg calcium, 27 mg iron, 1.9 mg B6, less than 10,000 IU vitamin A, 600 IU vitamin D, 11 mg zinc, and 85 mg vitamin C (no more than 2000 mg daily). (Source 1)

I recommend having your midwife or OB check your prenatal vitamin and approve it, especially after your blood work results are in. Here are the ingredients of a prenatal I took while pregnant.
  • 600 mcg Folate (the natural form of folic acid found in food)
*Since folate is the natural form of folic acid, it is immediately metabolized in a form the body recognizes. Try to find a prenatal vitamin with folate instread of folic acid. For more information, please view my second source. (Source 2)
  • 18 mg Iron
  • 150 mcg Iodine
  • 5000 IU vitamin A
  • 60 mg vitamin C
  • 600 IU vitamin D
  • 30 IU vitamin E
  • 80 mcg vitamin K
  • 1.5 mg Thiamin
  • 1.7 mg Riboflavin
  • 20 mg Niacin
  • 10 mg vitamin B6
  • 6 mcg B12 (methylcobalamin)
  • 300 mcg Biotin
  • 10 mg Pantothenic acid
  • 5 mg Zinc
  • 70 mg Selenium
  • 1 mg Manganese
  • 120 mcg Chromium

The reason I chose this specific prenatal vitamin was because the “other ingredients” part of the label did not contain any of the following:
propylene glycol-also used in antifreeze and brake fluid, cannot be eliminated from the body in children under 4 years
Artificial colors (Red #40, Blue #2, etc.)-contain contaminants that may cause cancers
Maltodextrin-spikes your blood sugar
polyethylene glycol-petroleum derivative compound made from ethylene glycol
sodium benzoate- can irritate ulcers and cause nausea and vomiting in some individuals, carcinogen (Source 3)

I also took my calcium and iron separately, since calcium can inhibit iron absorption. I ate calcium rich foods like almonds, oranges, cheese, greens, and beans.This specific prenatal did contain folate as which is crucial for baby’s neural tube formation, cell growth, and cell division. Lastly, I took a DHA vitamin that had 1000 mg omega-3 DHA/EPA (both added up to 1000 mg) and also had at least 600 mg omega-3 DHA (Dr. Sears recommendation). My midwife recommended that I quit taking fish oil at 35 weeks to prevent the possibility of a "sticky placenta," and then resume the fish oil after delivery.

Be aware that there are plenty of other ingredients that should be on your no-no list as far as foods and even hair and skin products. Usually, the less ingredients a product has, the better it is..especially if you can actually read those ingredients. Please check my Pinterest Birth Boot Camp folder for more information on ingredients to avoid.

The last bit of information I’d like to share with you is a website I found called Labdoor. This site buys the supplements off the shelves and then runs a chemical analysis on them, rating them for purity and safety. You can check most supplements here.

Again, I am not a doctor, just a birth instructor sharing information that I feel is important to consider for a healthy pregnancy and for healthy breastfeeding (you'll keep taking prenatals as you nurse Baby). Research and choose what is best for your family and have a happy and healthy birth!

-A special thanks to my student who asked me about her prenatals! I hope this helps!