I feel strongly about getting as many nutrients out of my food as possible before adding a supplement. To follow my own guidelines I had to figure out just how many calories, iron, folic acid, vitamin D etc I was getting in my regular diet. This lead to hours of research and I want to share the basics with you.
A large number of prenatal vitamins are laced with fake sugars, unnecessary additives and micronutrients with no scientific evidence of helping your fetus grow. After reviewing the research the only vitamin essential for fetal safety is Folic acid. In second place is Vitamin D and there are mixed results in the published studies. Lastly, Iron is only essential if you have confirmed Iron deficiency anemia. All the other vitamins and micronutrients you see published have no scientific evidence to back them up. Many you can get from a healthy diet.
One way to check on your diet is to see a nutritionist, ask your doctor or use an app to track your nutrient intake. No app is 100% accurate but it can give you an idea of how you’re doing. I chose the Wholesome Pro App to track my nutrients and Lose It! App to track calorie intake.
My results: I was shocked to see that I wasn’t getting enough iron or vitamin D! I had incorporated more chicken, lean beef and lentils into my diet and was sure I was absorbing enough iron. Turns out even with my new diet I was still missing about 70% of a day’s worth of iron! For vitamin D I was using a supplement so I was sure that I had enough however the intake I was getting from food was close to nothing. Turns out Vitamin D fortified orange juice has very little of your daily required dose. Vitamin D can only be found in fish and fortified products making it difficult to consume the recommended amount. I personally avoided fish due to the hidden mercury and heavy metals they carry.
What do to with your results: Make sure your OB is testing your blood frequently to measure these essential vitamins. Consider taking individualized vitamins for your deficits. You could take the full pre-natal vitamin if you can tolerate it and you’re not concerned with the extra vitamin intake. My choice to avoid pre-natals is a personal opinion. You should discuss your nutrition with your doctor to make your own informed decision. Should you decide to use a more food based method consider using these apps to help you track the nutrients rather than guessing.