Vitamin supplementation is unnecessary for the vast majority of people. You wouldn’t know this walking through a drug store, where you’ll usually find an entire aisle packed with supplements. Alternative health providers like naturopaths tend to be strong supporters of supplementation, but this advice seems to be based mainly on the belief that “vitamins are magic” rather than good science. The best research hasn’t established a strong evidence base for taking supplements. We definitely need vitamins in our diet to live. But that’s where we should be getting those vitamins – from our food, instead of from pills. If you eat a reasonable and balanced diet, and have no medical conditions that require special consideration, vitamin supplementation won’t offer meaningful health benefits. In the absence of any deficiency, vitamin supplements seem to be useless at best and harmful at worst.
That doesn’t mean vitamins are always useless or unnecessary. They can also have important science-based roles. Vitamin deficiencies can occur, and sometimes the consequences can be significant. Pregnancy is one example. Pregnant women may not obtain adequate amounts of nutrients like folate in their diet. Deficiencies are linked to major birth abnormalities: neural tube defects (NTDs). It is well-established that folic acid supplementation around the time of conception, and continued through pregnancy, can significantly reduce the risk of NTDs, and may reduce the risk of someother abnormalities as well. There are now widespread recommendations for folic acid supplementation in pregnancy. Because many pregnancies are unplanned, public health strategies have included fortifying food with folic acid, and this approach also seems to reduce birth defects in populations.
Folate is not the only deficiency possible in pregnancy. Pregnant women have higher requirements for calcium and iron. There’s also the need to ensure adequate amounts of vitamins A, the Bs, C, D, E and zinc. While these needs can potentially be met through diet, some guidelines recommend a multivitamin (and not just folic acid) because of the consequences of a deficiency and a lack of any real risks. And supplementation works. The most common maternal multivitamin (at least here in Canada) is Materna, though there are many competitors and lots of generics. Costs can be as low as $4-8 per month. Prenatal vitamins will usually contain 0.4mg to 1mg of folic acid – it’s the most essential ingredient. Most contain slightly higher amounts of calcium and iron than a typical daily multivitamin, along with modest amounts of other micronutrients. This formula helps pregnant women’s diets meet their nutritional requirements, reduces the risk of birth defects, and is a practice aligned with the best evidence. Read Full Article.
I personally chose to not take prenatal supplements. I ate a balanced diet of healthy foods, did my research on the best foods to eat and stayed far far away from refined sugar. I have some tips to share.
Folic Acid tends to be the biggest concern for pregnant women. Foods rich in folate (the natural, bio-available, form of folic acid) can deteriorate when cooked so it's best to choose raw forms. Avocado is a great choice as 1 cup holds up to 90mcg of folate, which accounts for approximately 22% of your daily needs. Not only are avocados one of the best foods with folic acid, but it’s also an excellent source of fatty acids, vitamin K and dietary fiber.
15 Foods High in Folic Acid
The BEST vitamins are food based but food based supplements tend to be very expensive. A brilliant hack it to save the peels from fruits and veggies you normally toss. Like bananas, oranges, lemons, carrots etc.. Choose organic varieties and wash them well before peeling. Toss the peels in a food processor to transform them into a past. You now have an incredibly rich (and practically free) source of vitamins and minerals. Eat on toast with honey, mix in with yogurt, add to smoothies, bake into bread, cookies or muffins, add to salad, cereal, soup...Anything really!
Did you research vitamins while pregnant? Share your findings to help other woman.