Most everyone accepts that supplementation during pregnancy is necessary. We have read the studies about not having enough folic acid, and we all know that fish oil is good for our and baby's brains. But are there drawbacks to an off the shelf prenatal vitamin? Could it be providing too many minerals, throwing your body out of balance? Maybe it has the wrong minerals? Or not enough of some?
There is a way to know exactly which vitamins and minerals are right to support your health and your baby's health. This is by looking at the mineral content of your hair. A properly performed and interpreted hair analysis is accurate at correlating the mineral content in your hair with the mineral content in your tissues. With this simple, non-invasive test, you can know your deficiencies, excesses and toxic metal load, helping you supplement appropriately for your pregnancy.
I have long wanted to do a side by side analysis of prenatal vitamins compared to the supplements recommended on a nutritional balancing program. Usually supplementing without a hair test means you are getting too much of some vitamins and minerals and not enough of others. After reviewing even a small set of hair analyses, it is apparent that people have vastly different mineral levels and ratios. Naturally this would mean that they require different types of supplements to help balance their body chemistry and ultimately alleviate symptoms.
I recently took the time to review a popular prenatal vitamin and compare it to a nutritional balancing program for one of my newly pregnant clients. It was encouraging to see that the off the shelf vitamin shared many of the same recommended vitamins and minerals as the program supplements.
However, knowing what I know about how minerals work synergistically in the body, interact with hormones and build-up in the body, I can confidently say that nutritional balancing will nourish my client completely without adding to her imbalances, unlike the off-the-shelf prenatal vitamin.
Before we get to the comparison, I need to mention that this particular client has a fairly balanced oxidation rate and is not in a depleted, four lows pattern. The supplements were recommended to her based off of her hair analysis. This is not a "pregnancy program" that can be applied with equal success for all women. Such a program does not exist and is one of the biggest concerns with off-the-shelf prenatal vitamins. If you are interested in obtaining a hair analysis and doing a nutritional balancing program during your pregnancy, or preferably before you are pregnant, please contact me through the site. We'll do a free consultation, so we can chat about your particular situation with no commitment.
Do you want to see the side by side comparison and my notes on the differences? Check them out below!
Below are my thoughts on the major differences between the two options. After this complete analysis, I support the nutritional balancing program especially during pregnancy. I see nothing in the differences that concerns me about the nutritional balancing program and a few things that definitely concern me about the off-the-shelf pills. These are mainly unnecessary iron and copper and not enough zinc.
Vitamin A: Most prenatals use beta-carotene, which is not easily converted to Vitamin A in the body. The best sources of Vitamin A are fish oil and meats, which you will get plenty of on the nutritional balancing diet.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is particularly helpful for dealing with copper overload, which most women have and also which tends to increase during pregnancy due to the close relationship between copper and estrogen in the body. Vitamin C is also a great anti-oxidant.
Vitamin D3: Everyone needs at least 5000 IU supplemental Vitamin D in Dr. Wilson's experience. Pregnancy only increases this requirement.
Vitamin K: The off-the-shelf prenatal contains Vitamin K, where the nutritional balancing program does not contain supplemental Vitamin K. You get plenty of this with the cooked vegetables in the diet. There is no need to supplement when you are on a nutritional balancing program.
Biotin: The off-the-shelf prenatal contains quite a lot of this. It is a B complex vitamin and is needed in the body. If you are eating egg yolks (up to six a week for women), you will get what you need from food.
Calcium: As one of the main structural elements in the body, everyone needs more calcium today. Even if you are drinking milk, you are likely not obtaining the calcium you need from food, because pasteurization of dairy products makes the calcium less bioavailable. Calcium alone is constipating, so we give it with magnesium. See below for more on magnesium.
Iron: Most iron supplements contain an irritating form of iron that is not well utilized by the body. Dr. Wilson's experience is that most people are actually iron toxic (even if they are classified anemic based on blood tests). Anemia is more likely due to a copper imbalance than a lack of iron. Supplementing iron if not absolutely necessary can be quite damaging. If you eat red meat, preferably lamb, 2-3 times a week, you will receive adequate bioavailable iron for your pregnancy. Taking some dessicated liver towards the end of pregnancy may also be a good idea since baby needs to get about 3 years of iron stores at birth.
Magnesium: Magnesium is very popular today in natural health circles and for good reason. Essential in over 400 enzymatic reactions in the body, magnesium is one of the building blocks of life. It is necessary for growth, development, and general health and well-being, and cannot be replaced by less preferred minerals in the body. It's great for relaxing your body and helping with morning sickness during pregnancy. Supplementing with the wrong kind will not be tolerated in the body, likely leading to loose stools. Additionally, applying magnesium oil topically can be quite toxic and dangerous even if it "feels" like it is helping at first. We always give magnesium with calcium (to keep the ratio between calcium and magnesium stable) and boron. There is not enough magnesium in the off-the-shelf prenatal. See below for more on boron.
Zinc is so important for a developing baby. It is called the gentle strength mineral and can help correct other imbalances in the body. Like magnesium, it is critical for proper enzymatic functioning and seems to play a key role in growth and development. Everyone is deficient in zinc because the soil is deficient. Zinc is also important to keep in balance with copper. As your copper levels are climbing during pregnancy, ensuring you have enough zinc to counter-balance the rising copper levels is important. Nearly all of the best sources of zinc come from animals, which is the main reason why most vegetarians are severely deficient. The level given in the off-the-shelf prenatal is not enough to support the extra zinc demands of pregnancy.
Copper is generally not needed during pregnancy. Most women have an overload of it, and it is increasing during pregnancy because of rising estrogen in their bodies. It is important that one's prenatal supplement does not contain copper for this reason, unless you are certain it is helpful for your body by looking at a tissue analysis. Excess copper leads to a myriad of health concerns varying from physical symptoms to mental and emotional health concerns.
Boron is included in the nutritional balancing program because it helps the body retain magnesium. It is not harmful in excess. It is likely the reason why higher amounts of magnesium in nutritional balancing are tolerated well. Without the boron, magnesium may just go right through you if you take too much and give you loose stool.
Fish Oil is not included in the off-the-shelf prenatal. Many women I know buy an additional fish oil supplement when they are pregnant. Before I started nutritional balancing, I supplemented with fish oil as well. Ensuring your supplement is not rancid is important due to the delicate nature of the fatty acids in fish oil. The lack of fish oil in the off-the-shelf vitamin is one of the main reasons for the price difference between the off-the-shelf prenatal and the nutritional balancing program. Adding in a fish oil supplement will make the costs very similar. To quote Dr. Wilson,
All the B vitamins are higher on a nutritional balancing program than in the off-the-shelf prenatal. This is mainly to balance the oxidation rate. B complex vitamins are also protective against emotional upset and depression, as well as a counterbalance to excess copper. Speeding up your oxidation rate, gives you better access to the energy from your food. We could all use a little extra energy during pregnancy, right?!
Whew. That was a mega-analysis that just hits the surface of the detailed understanding of vitamins and minerals that nutritional balancing brings to your body. One of the greatest things about nutritional balancing is that we don't have to base our recommendations on how our clients feel -- knowing that so very many factors are at play at any given time in the body. We track the actual effect of supplementation on the body through repeated hair tests. You can be sure you aren't flushing your money down the toilet with our program as you watch your mineral levels and ratios improve and feel the increased energy, calm mind, and confidence that comes from having balanced minerals.
If you are thinking of getting pregnant, are pregnant or are breastfeeding, I encourage you to contact me to see how a nutritional balancing program can help you and baby thrive!