Pregnancy Supplements are Not All the Same. What do you look for?
Have you ever gone to the pharmacy and found yourself staring at the great wall of supplements wondering which to choose? Do your eyes get drawn to the ones a celebrity endorses or maybe those that have the big ‘special’ sign on them? Do you find yourself thinking, ‘any mutli will do because, all brands the same, aren’t they?’
Unfortunately quality differs greatly between brands. The forms of the nutrients, how they are manufactured and the hidden ingredients in the supplement all influence how effective the supplement will be for you.
Did you know the form of a nutrient determines how well you will absorb it and therefore how beneficial it will be for you? For example magnesium comes in many forms two of which are magnesium oxide and magnesium amino acid chelate. Magnesium oxide is considered a bowel irritant, (which is why it is found in that awful colonoscopy bowel preparation), while magnesium amino acid chelate is gentler and better absorbed.
As with anything, how it is manufactured determines how long it will last on the ‘shelf’. Oils such as fish oils, probiotics and fat soluble vitamins (A, D & E) oxidise or ‘go off’ easily. As a result, a more delicate manufacturing process is required for these supplements to ensure their shelf life stability. Poor manufacturing processes results in supplements containing nutrients that have oxidised and therefore may be ineffective.
If this wasn’t enough to make you question your current multi, supplements may have binders, fillers, additives, flavours and colours that can be damaging to your health long term. This is why you may have taken a supplement in the past and felt it ‘did nothing’ for you, or unfortunately, made you feel unwell.
So which do you choose? Unfortunately there is no hard and fast rule for which supplement is the best for everyone. As a general rule, the more delicate the manufacturing process, the more expensive a supplement will be. Typically, the practitioner range supplements are far superior to retail brands, but for this reason, may be harder to find. This is because most practitioner range products can only legally be sold via a consultation with a health care professional. This is due to the therapeutic nature of the products. Because they work so well, you need to be monitored more closely to see how long you need to take it.
Supplements in powder or liquid form are generally absorbed better than tablets or capsules. However before you start throwing your money away on supplements you may not need, get your health assessed by your Primary Health Care professional. They will look at your current medication (should you be on any) and your current medical status and tell you what is safe for you to take. Most health care professionals will also be able to assist you with which brands are better than others, and what forms of each individual nutrient you require. They can also monitor your health and advice when you may no longer need that supplement.
If a supplement contains herbal medicine, please ensure this herb is safe with your current medication and your current health status (whether it be during your fertility journey, pregnancy or while breastfeeding). For a list of health care professionals in your area who have a herbal medicine degree visit www.nhaa.org.au.
Read more about what supplements you may need during pregnancy – Click here.
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