One question I frequently get is, what do I recommend for vitamins. At my first OB appointment I received a handout on what to do when you’re pregnant. One of the recommendations was to start taking a prenatal vitamin and that they are all pretty equal in terms of their makeup so choose what is the cheapest. I literally laughed out loud at this as this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not all vitamins are created equal. Factors that can vary are quality of ingredients, ingredients included, dosing, and manufacturing practices. The bottom line is quality matters.
There are several good multivitamins out there and while I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary for everyone to take one the reality is that our diets are oftentimes lacking in nutrients either due to food choices or to soil depletion. Even if someone has a great diet it doesn’t hurt to supplement to make sure all the important vitamins and minerals are being met.
Another important issue when choosing a vitamin, is looking to see if the vitamin contains folic acid or folate. “Folic acid refers to the oxidized synthetic compound used in dietary supplements and food fortification, whereas folate refers to the various tetrahydrofolate derivatives naturally found in food,” Chris Kresser. Folic acid fortification in foods became mandatory in 1998 in attempt to reduce the incidence of neural tube defects. While this has been successful there is concern that long term supplementation of folic acid may be linked to cancer. Long term high dose use of folic acid may also mask the detection of B12 deficiency in elderly leading to the deterioration of the central nervous system. Excellent sources of dietary folate include vegetables such as romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and lentils. Folate supplementation is also crucial in those dealing with MTHFR mutation. The MTHFR gene produces the enzyme, methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, that is necessary for properly using vitamin B9, aka folate. Those with a MTHFR gene mutation have a highly reduced ability to convert folic acid or even folate into a usable form. There is a lot of controversy around MTHFR mutation and if it truly affects health. MTHFR mutation may increase cancer risk, cardiovascular disease risk, and risk of fetal development problems. It may also contribute to or exacerbate conditions like autoimmune diseases and mental issues.
One of my favorite brands for Elijah and myself is Vitamin Code. (https://www.gardenoflife.com/products-for-life/vitamins) These vitamins are processed to maintain excellent quality and contain folate (yay!) along with a probiotic blend and an organic fruit and vegetable blend. The kids version comes in chewables which is preferable for some parents over gummies. Elijah loves taking these too!
My other favorite brand is Smarty Pants. (https://smartypantsvitamins.com/) This brand is also produced very well and contains folate. This comes in a gummy version and tastes AMAZING! I ended up switching myself to this from the Vitamin Code prenatals as I was having a really hard time taking them with my nausea and they didn’t seem to be settling well after I became pregnant. At first I was disappointed that I had to take 6 of the Smarty Pants prenatals, but then after my first time taking them I wasn’t upset anymore! They taste like gummy bears and I actually wanted more. Haha! I bought some for Elijah to take after he finishes his Vitamin Code vitamins as I was stocking up on Thrive Market. On a side note, if you haven’t checked out Thrive Market yet, I highly recommend you do. For $59.95/yr Thrive Market is a membership community that uses direct buying to deliver healthy food and natural products to the members at wholesale prices, and to sponsor free memberships for low-income American families. (Thrivemarket.com)
American College of Medical Genetics recs on MTHFR testing- https://www.acmg.net/docs/MTHFR_gim2012165a_Feb2013.pdf
Chris Kresser podcast on methylation and mutation- https://chriskresser.com/methylation-what-is-it-and-why-sh…/
Article about MTHFR Mutation- http://wellnessmama.com/27148/mthfr-mutation/
Folate vs. Folic Acid- https://chriskresser.com/folate-vs-folic-acid/