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Pregnancy Vitamins: What to Consider when Buying a Prenatal

Pregnancy Vitamins: What to Consider when Buying a Prenatal

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Pregnancy Vitamins: What to Consider when Selecting a Prenatal

There is something special (and stressful) about the months during which a women is trying to conceive and throughout the 40 or so weeks of pregnancy. With the health and wellbeing of their new arrival top of mind, women are more likely to take better care of themselves, eat a more balanced diet, get more sleep and start taking pregnancy vitamins (prenatal vitamins).

For many women, taking vitamins during pregnancy may be their first introduction to vitamins. And, if you’ve ever visited the vitamin aisle at your local drug store or natural health food store, you’ll know that the number of options is overwhelming. With so many brands, ingredients and information in the market, how do you choose the right pregnancy vitamins for you and the health of your baby?

Here are some things to consider when selecting your pregnancy vitamins to ensure you get the best prenatal supplement for you and your baby:

The Basics

The first step in selecting the right supplement for before, during and after pregnancy is to choose from one of the many pregnancy vitamins also known as prenatal vitamins. Avoid a regular multi-vitamin as it will be lacking the appropriate dose of the two most important added ingredients – folic acid and iron.

A quality pregnancy vitamin should include a balanced blend of vitamins and minerals, 30mg of iron and a minimum of 1mg of folic acid. Folic acid should be take for at least two to three months before conception to reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and other birth defects like cleft lip, cleft palate, and certain heart defects.

Ginger and Pregnancy

Up to 80% of women suffer from nausea(often called ‘morning sickness’ although for many women it lasts all day) and if you are one of these lucky women , finding pregnancy vitamins with the recommended dosage of folic acid, iron, AND ginger should be a priority.

Wondering: Is ginger safe during pregnancy? Ginger has long been a natural remedy associated with reducing nausea and stomach upset, and has been clinically proven to safely reduce nausea associated with pregnancy. Doctors, midwives, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals often recommended anti-nauseates such as Diclectin for those suffering from morning sickness. And while it can be an effective remedy and is considered ‘safe’ by reputable medical professionals and resources such as www.motherisk.ca, supplements containing ginger offer a safe, natural solution that is gentle on your system and that of your unborn baby.

Dangerous Ingredients

Taking prenatal vitamins for the health of you and your baby? Then watch out for these dangerous ingredients found in some of the leading prenatal vitamins. Make sure to read the labels carefully. Avoid prenatal supplements that include ingredients like BHT, FD&C red no. 40, Sodium Benzoate and Titanium dioxide.

BHT is a skin, liver and kidney toxicant. It is stored in the liver and in fat making thin people more at risk for damage associated with consumption of this ingredient. Studies have shown that BHT promotes cancer and the growth of tumours.

In Europe, FD&C red no. 40 which is often used as a food colorant, is not recommended for consumption by children and yet many of the leading prenatal vitamins include this in their formulations. It is banned in the UK, Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Sweden.

Sodium Benzoate combined with ascorbic acid and potassium benzoate may form benzene. Benzene is a known carcinogen. Similarly, Titanium dioxide was recently classified as a possible carcinogen to humans. Carcinogens have long been considered cancer promoting and should be avoided by all people.

The presence of these dangerous ingredients in some of the most popular prenatal vitamins is shocking and scary. Make sure you read and compare labels carefully and do your own research to find the safest prenatal  vitamin for before, during and after pregnancy.

Veggie Capsule versus Gel Capsule

Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, you may be surprised to learn that many prenatal vitamins (and supplements and other over the counter drugs in general) are made with gel capsules. Gel capsules are made with Gelatin; a substance derived the bones, tissues, organs and intestines of animals like cows, pigs and chickens.

If you’re a vegetarian or simply loathe the idea of gel caps (who could blame you!), look for a supplement that is made with vegetable capsules. Veggie capsules are often used only by premium brands and supplements due to the higher manufacturing cost. So look for brands that offer their products in veggie caps, in addition to a more appealing supplement, you’ll also know that their priority is quality not cost.

Not your first pregnancy or have a prenatal vitamin you swear by? Check the ingredients and compare all the prenatal vitamins available at your local pharmacy. Don’t rule out switching brands for a supplement that has the right effective ingredients, is free of dangerous ingredients, and doesn’t use dairy, gluten and any other unnecessary fillers.

Not sure where to get prenatal vitamins? Shop online or visit your local grocery store, pharmacy or natural health food store. Make sure you do your research in advance and take a list of what ingredients to avoid and which ingredients to look for.

Found the perfect prenatal vitamin? Share it with us!

Kelly Straus
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Kelly Straus is a 35 year old working mom and wife, with over a decade of experience in marketing communications and the natural health sector. Kelly successfully balances a challenging career with the demands of her young family – a 4 year old son and 2 year old daughter (not to mention a very hairy Golden Retriever!). Kelly is passionate about educating and empowering women to take charge of their lives and their health. She has made a personal commitment to better manage her own health and help other women gain access to health information.

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