Friday, March 4, 2011

A Prescription of Flintstones Vitamins

I recently inquired of a family friend (a doctor friend) (a girl-doctor, doctor friend) about prenatal vitamins.  My independent knowledge was minimal - they are multi-vitamins for pregnant women and women planning to get pregnant.  And that's it.  So, I asked for the insider details. When should one start taking them?  How often?  Does one need a prescription?

She had a anti-climatic, short response - prenatal vitamins are pretty much the same as run-of-the-mill multi-vitamins with extra folic acid, I can buy them at Duane Reade without a prescription and if I'm not good at swallowing big pills then Flintstones chewables will do.  Hmmm...I was expecting more.  Really, Flintstones vitamins?  I didn't want to seem ungrateful or, worse, probe to the extent where she assumed there was some personal motivation (there's not).  So, I left it at that and turned to my trusty resource for all things: Wikipedia and the internet in general.

Turns out, she pretty much nailed it.  There is not much to these prenatal vitamins.  The dosage of certain vitamins, like folic acid and vitamin C, are increased above the levels contained in regular multi-vitamins.  These elevated levels are based on medical studies that show a correlation between certain vitamins and a baby's health at birth.  Makes sense.

But, what about just eating the foods that contain naturally high levels of important vitamins?  Why don't doctors recommend that?  I've read In Defense of Food (actually, I only read the first half because it was really, really dry) and I drank the all-natural Koolaid.  The premise of this non-fiction, healthy diet preaching, somewhat boring book is that people should eat actual food with actual nutrients.  And not processed stuff with supplemental, artificially added nutrients.  Eat the banana, skip the potassium pill.

These bananas look about a day away from overripe gooshiness

So, pregnant woman and female family planners should be eating foods that contain naturally high levels of folic acid.  Foods like citrus fruit, beans and leafy greens (collard greens, spinach and broccoli).  Iron, which is also important if you're preggers, can be found in egg yolks, artichokes, prunes and red meat.
"Grade A Fancy"

This juice is made from concentrate. 
If you're really going for the whole "actual food" diet,
then actual oranges would be a better call...
or at least juice made from actual oranges.

I understand that not everyone can or wants to change their diet and that the average diet won't provide for the suggested levels of certain vitamins.  But it is an option.  One that I have not heard.  Maybe because it's obvious?  Maybe because the makers of the prenatal vitamins have more pull with the doctors than the growers of folic acid rich foods?

Whether by prenatal vitamin, Flinstones chewables, a diet full of orange juice and chili or a combination thereof, the consensus seems to be that upping your daily vitamin and mineral intake is a good call if you're pregnant or in the market to become.

Nutella is not specifically good for pregnant women, but delicious.

1 comment:

Coll said...

I love this post! So interesting think about!