How we choose the best pregnancy and breast feeding multivitamin/minerals for our patients

The world of vitamins and minerals is a bit of a minefield. Even for naturopaths, we must sit down and analyse each supplement we give to our patients to make sure that it is:

  1. Safe
  2. Effective
  3. The best product for your particular physiology, stage of treatment and stage of life

If you were already taking a pregnancy or breastfeeding multivitamin when you came to see us, you may have been told to either finish off and not buy any more, or throw it out and start taking one recommended by us. The reason we do this is not because we want you to buy the products that we stock, but because we really do care about your health and the health of your future baby and there are some real stand out differences between store-bought multivitamins and those that we recommend you to take. Here are a few of the big differences:

The form or type of vitamins and minerals used

Folate – some products have higher levels of folic acid than others and we know that folate is very important for pregnancy as it can help to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects (NTDs), so inclusion of folate is essential in a pregnancy and breast feeding multivitamin. For many of our patients though, folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate, is very poorly utilised in the body, so often we will choose a supplement containing a blend of active folates which are found naturally in the body to ensure that you can utilise this important vitamin for baby’s growth and development.

Iron – iron that is in the amino acid chelate form is much better absorbed and causes less side effects than the salt forms of iron (ferrous fumarate for example). The last thing you need when you are pregnant is further gastrointestinal upset or constipation. Although the amount of iron in naturopath supplements is lower than in some pharmacy and supermarket brands, studies have shown that the improved absorption overcomes the lower dose with reduced side effects. 

 

Other minerals – such as zinc, calcium, magnesium and selenium can come in salt form (poorly absorbed) or in combination with amino acids and other organic compounds that are easier utilised by the body.

 

The amount of nutrients used

Vitamin D is essential for baby’s brain development and should be at optimal levels before the mother conceives. Of all the patients, whose vitamin D levels we have tested in clinic, approximately 5% of patients have adequate vitamin D levels, with many patients’ levels low enough to be considered deficient and extremely deficient. Studies show that maternal vitamin D levels are linked to infant development outcomes. For example, one study showed that higher maternal the number of total Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD) symptoms reduced by 11% with each 10ng/ml increase of maternal vitamin D. For this reason, we chose multivitamins with the highest allowable amount of vitamin D (1000IU per day) and may supplement you with additional vitamin D if we think that you and baby are at risk.

B group vitamins which are important for energy production and help your body cope with stress. The amount included in practitioner brands can be considered therapeutic, whereas the amount in store bought products is nominal.

Inclusion of trace minerals such as selenium, chromium and molybdenum

Our soils are largely deficient in trace minerals, so inclusion is prudent to cover trace mineral deficiency. Naturopathic formulas have a bigger focus on the trace minerals as these are so important for health and development. The inclusion of chromium for example is also to ensure healthy insulin signalling and along with healthy diet and lifestyle advice protect you from blood sugar dysregulation. Another example is selenium, which is an antioxidant and important for thyroid hormone production.

We give our omega 3’s separately

To ensure that you get optimal dose of both EPA and DHA and that the quality and purity of the omega 3 fatty acids are at optimal levels, we give them in a separate capsule to your multivitamin. The wide variation in active ingredients as well as how well cleaned the fish oils are means that we must be very specific when prescribing fish oils. Safety is a number one priority for our patients– even more so when you are pregnant. As the ocean is polluted, the animals that live in it are also polluted. Many of the pollution components are fat soluble – so end up in fish oils – this is why we choose the best and safest fish oils for our patients.

Extra ingredients (also known as excipients)

There are many ingredients in your supplements that you will never see on the label because they are used as part of the production process – like tableting agents and coating agents. The companies making products do not have to disclose these ingredients to you the consumer. Because it is so important that our patients are not consuming toxins as part of their multivitamin regime, we demand the lowest amount and inclusion of only the safest excipients and we choose only the safest brands for you.

We hope this helps you understand why we choose the multivitamins that we do for you. If there are any additional questions you have, please do not hesitate to ask your naturopath and remember that vitamins do not replace a healthy diet.