Wiggy Saunders MD
As an Integrative Medicine physician, I find the new research about the importance of proper nutrition from Day 1 for babies fascinating. I’m not talking about Day 1 after birth, I’m talking about Day 1 at conception. It is now becoming abundantly clear that the environment that a baby grows and develops in the womb will have long lasting effects down the road.
What happens to a baby in the womb will not only affect its normal development of a healthy nervous, immune, and cardiovascular system, but will also in many ways determine the health for that individual through childhood and even into adulthood. This may sound crazy but the in utero environment can determine baby’s IQ, likelihood of having ADHD, and even predict the likelihood of obesity and diabetes.
Because all moms want to set their children up for success and health, we have to make sure that they are provided with the best nutrients from Day 1. I know it’s not the easiest to eat clean during pregnancy, especially the first trimester however, solid nutrition is imperative and so is the prenatal vitamin.
Unfortunately, this is where most moms-to-be get it wrong. They either think that all prenatal vitamins are the same and just pick the cheapest one or choose the one with the prettiest packaging. I’m not judging – it’s SO confusing, but believe me not all prenatal vitamins are the same and most of them are not providing mom and baby with the nutrition that they need. Nearly all of the prenatal vitamins available rely on outdated science and are missing critically important ingredients.
There are 4 key ingredients that I feel are necessary that are not found in 99.99% of prenatal vitamins.
Methylfolate. The importance of folic acid is pretty widely accepted. This is so important because being deficient in folic acid can lead to neural tube defects. So, every prenatal vitamin now has folic acid and its why a lot of the processed food that we eat is fortified with folic acid.
The problem with using regular, old folic acid is that it needs to be converted into methylfolate in order to be used. Based on new research, this doesn’t appear to be the best option for about 40% of the population, since they have a mutation in the gene responsible for the conversion of folic acid into methylfolate.
This genetic mutation is known as MTHFR. If you have this mutation you are not able to effectively convert regular folic acid into its active form, methylfolate. When this happens you are not getting the benefit of folic acid and instead have a lot of unconverted folic acid which may affect proper nervous system development.
Since such a large percentage of the population cannot convert folic acid into methylfolate, it is very important to not play the odds and make sure that your prenatal vitamin includes the active form of folic acid – methylfolate.
Vitamin B12 Again if you have any knowledge about vitamins and minerals you have probably heard about how important B12 is for brain health, metabolism, and muscle growth. That is why all prenatal vitamins will include some form of B12.
Unfortunately, most of the prenatal vitamins choose the cheapest form of B12 to include in their formulation, called cyanocobalmin. The problem with this form of B12 is the “cyano” component because that is a cyanide molecule bound to a B12 molecule.
I do not recommend cyanocobalmin, especially during pregnancy, instead I recommend methylB12 or methylcobalamin. This (like methyfolate) is the active form, is found in nature, and is the best to take during pregnancy.
Vitamin K2- Our prenatal vitamin is the only one on the market with Vitamin K2- the others all have Vitamin K1. Let me explain the difference.
Vitamin K1 is found in leafy green vegetables and is the shot that newborns get when they are in the hospital. It is important for proper clotting and circulation. While this is not a bad vitamin to take, it is easily found in the diet through vegetables and fortified foods, and has really no effect on bone and teeth development.
Most people are deficient in Vitamin K2, the other K vitamin. There has been a ton of research on Vitamin K2 recently, but it all started when a researcher, Weston A. Price, was trying to figure out why certain populations had crooked teeth while other indigenous populations had straight teeth and square jaws even without any dental care.
He determined the missing factor was Vitamin K2 and as long as pregnant moms were consuming enough Vitamin K2, then their kids would end up developing normal teeth and jaws. I made sure, Emily was taking plenty of K2 during pregnancy because I don’t want our boys to have to get braces like me.
Glutathione is what our bodies naturally produce to help us get rid of toxins. It’s important during pregnancy because, like it or not, we are unable to completely avoid all toxins.
There was a study that looked at the cord blood of babies to determine how many toxins the researchers could identify. The average cord contained around 300 different toxins indicating that babies are being exposed to toxins from conception.
The good news is that if we have enough glutathione around and our detoxification systems are working properly, we can flush these toxins before they build up to dangerous levels. Glutathione binds to toxins so that they can be excreted. We included it in our prenatal vitamin to make sure mom and baby’s toxic exposure is as limited as possible.
Those are the 4 critically important nutrients that we made sure to include in our prenatal vitamin. I feel confident that this is the best prenatal vitamin available and why it’s the only one that I want Emily to take during pregnancy and while she is breastfeeding to provide optimal nutrition to her and to our newborn boy.
We truly believe that prenatal nutrition makes all the difference for you and your baby and would love for you to give our vitamins a try. May you be blessed in your journey through motherhood!
Wiggy Saunders MD