Pregnancy and Supplementation

By Joel Fuhrman, M.D. www.drfuhrman.com

Christian Care Ministry does not endorse Dr. Fuhrman’s supplement below. We hope you find it helpful to consider the research associated with this supplement. The key point is to understand that you should strive to meet your nutritional needs through whole foods. 

Avoid taking prenatal supplements containing these ingredients: vitamin A, high dose (200 IUs or greater) isolated Vitamin E, folic acid, beta carotene, and copper

Ideally, pregnant women should get the vast majority of their micronutrients from foods. Supplements are useful in conjunction with a healthy diet for ensuring adequate vitamin and mineral intakes, but it is crucial to avoid supplementing with excessively high levels of certain nutrients, which could lead to toxicity or other harmful effects.

Gentle Prenatal contains the same carefully designed combination of vitamins and minerals present in Gentle Care Formula, but has been uniquely tailored to the needs of pregnant women.

Contains 25 mg Ferronyl Iron

Women's iron needs approximately double during pregnancy because of increased blood volume and the iron needs of the developing fetus.1 For this reason, it is appropriate for most pregnant women to supplement with iron. The mother's iron stores are also important to assure iron adequacy in their babies, which is important for brain development and maximizing intelligence in children. Gentle Prenatal uses ferronyl iron, a premium source of supplemental iron. It is the most bioavailable form and is gentle on the digestive system.2,3,4 The daily dose of 25 mg of iron is split between two capsules to avoid the nausea and constipation commonly associated with iron supplements.

Contains 1000 IU Vitamin D

Gentle Prenatal contains more vitamin D than most other prenatal multivitamins, which only contain 400 IU. Including 1000 IU vitamin D in Gentle Prenatal helps pregnant women to minimize the number of supplements they take each day. Vitamin D is an important supplement for pregnant women - during the third trimester, calcium demands increase and vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and subsequently fetal bone growth. The amount of vitamin D currently contained in most prenatal vitamins (400 IU) is inadequate - vitamin D deficiency is common, affecting up to 50% of pregnant women and breastfed infants. Vitamin D insufficiency in pregnant and nursing women puts them at risk of preeclampsia and their children at risk of impaired growth during infancy and increased incidence of autoimmune diseases during childhood.5

Does Not Include Folic Acid, a potentially dangerous supplement that is typically recommended to pregnant women despite the dangers!

Dr. Fuhrman's Gentle Prenatal Stands Out From Other Prenatal Vitamins.

  • Gentle Prenatal includes 1000 IU of Vitamin D compared to 400 IU in other prenatal formulas
  • Gentle Prenatal does not include the potentially toxic supplements Vitamin A, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, and copper.6
  • Most importantly, Gentle Prenatal does not include folic acid, a potentially dangerous supplement that is typically recommended to every pregnant woman despite these dangers.

Dr. Fuhrman's Gentle Prenatal Does Not Contain Folic Acid

Folate is a member of the family of B vitamins that is involved in regulating DNA synthesis and gene expression. Because of these crucial functions, folate plays important roles in fetal development - folate is essential during pregnancy, especially early on in pregnancy, for the prevention of neural tube defects. Folate is abundant in green vegetables like spinach, collards, bok choy, artichokes, and broccoli. More than adequate folate levels can be easily and safely achieved by including these foods in a healthy diet.

The Standard American Diet (SAD) is so nutritionally inadequate that the U.S. government and most physicians encourage women to take folic acid supplements, assuming women do not eat green vegetables and are folate deficient. However, taking synthetic folic acid is not the same as getting natural folate from vegetables and can result in excessive folic acid levels in the circulation.

Prenatal Folic Acid Supplementation Has Been Linked To Breast Cancer Later In Life, But Food Folate Intake Is Protective.

  • A study compared breast cancer mortality rates between women who took folic acid during their pregnancy and those that did not. Thirty years later those women who followed the typical recommendations to take folic acid were twice as likely to die from breast cancer.7
  • A 10-year study on women taking multivitamins concluded that those who took multivitamins containing folic acid increased their breast cancer risk by 20-30%.8
  • A study investigating both food folate and synthetic folic acid found that only supplemental folic acid increased breast cancer risk. In other studies, women with low levels of food folate intake were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer.10,11
  • The results some studies on the subject have been inconclusive, but often these did not differentiate between supplemental folic acid and food folate.11
  • Folic acid supplementation has also been linked to prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.12

Folic Acid Supplementation During Pregnancy Can Have Damaging Effects On Childhood Health

  • Folic acid supplementation by pregnant women was shown to increase the risk of childhood asthma by 26%.13
  • Folic acid supplementation during pregnancy is associated with increased incidence of respiratory tract infections in infants.14
  • A study of pregnant women in Sweden found an increased incidence of cardiac birth defects in women who reported using folic acid supplements early in pregnancy.15

Diet During Pregnancy Is An Important Factor In Childhood Health

  • The children of women who consumed more folate from food (more green vegetables) during pregnancy were less likely to develop ADHD.16
  • Several studies have made connections between vegetable intake during pregnancy and lower risks of childhood cancers.17

Dr. Fuhrman urges pregnant women to eat a high nutrient diet including plenty of green vegetables, which will provide folate packaged with countless other nutrients and phytochemicals that will contribute to the health of both the mother and child.

Rich Sources Of Food Folate

As a reference point, the U.S. RDA for folate is 400μg. Below is the approximate folate content for a 100-calorie serving.18

Spinach, raw

843 μg

 

Edamame

225 μg

Endive

835 μg

Tomatoes, yellow

200 μg

Romaine lettuce

800 μg

Tomatoes, orange

180 μg

Asparagus, cooked

750 μg

Chickpeas

150 μg

Mustard greens, raw

700 μg

Red peppers, raw

150 μg

Collards, raw

550 μg

Papaya

90 μg

Okra, cooked

520 μg

Snow/Snap peas, raw

100 μg

Bok choy, raw

500 μg

Summer squash

100 μg

Brocolli Rabe, raw

375 μg

Tomatoes, red

85 μg

Arugula, raw

340 μg

Strawberries

75 μg

Artichokes, cooked

330 μg

Oranges

70 μg

Brussels sprouts, cooked

300 μg

Beets, cooked

50 μg

Broccoli, cooked

300 μg

Blackberries

55 μg

Cauliflower, raw

225 μg

Avocado

50 μg

Red leaf lettuce

225 μg

Sunflower seeds

40 μg

Celery, raw

225 μg

Quinoa, cooked

35 μg

Clearly, we do not need synthetic folic acid supplements to meet our daily folate requirements.

 

 

You can purchase this prenatal vitamin at www.drfuhrman.com


References:

  1. http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/iron.asp
  2. Devasthali SD et al. Bioavailability of carbonyl iron: a randomized, double-blind study. Eur J Haematol. 1991 May;46(5):272-8.
  3. Gordeuk VR et al. High-dose carbonyl iron for iron deficiency anemia: a randomized double-blind
    trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 1987 Dec;46(6):1029-34.
  4. Whittaker P et al. Acute toxicity of carbonyl iron and sodium iron EDTA compared with ferrous sulfate in young rats. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2002 Dec;36(3):280-6.
  5. Mulligan ML et al. Implications of vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy and lactation. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Oct 19. [Epub ahead of print]
  6. Bjelakovic G et al. Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patient with various diseases. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008;16(2):CD00776.
    Mayne ST. Beta-carotene, carotenoids, and disease prevention in humans. FASEB. 1996;10(7):690-701.
    Goodman GE. Prevention of lung cancer. Current Opinion in Oncology 1998;10(2):122-126.
    Kolata G. Studies Find Beta Carotene, Taken by Millions, Can't Forestall Cancer or Heart Disease. New York Times, Jan 19, 1996.
    Brewer et al. Risks of Copper and Iron Toxicity during Aging in Humans. Chemical Research in Toxicology, 2009
  7. Charles D et al. Taking folate in pregnancy and risk of maternal breast cancer. BMJ 2004;329:1375-6
  8. Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ et al. Folate intake, alcohol use, and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Apr;83(4):895-904.
  9. Stolzenberg-Solomon RZ et al. Folate intake, alcohol use, and postmenopausal breast cancer risk in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Apr;83(4):895-904.
  10. Sellers TA et al. Dietary folate intake, alcohol, and risk of breast cancer in a prospective study of postmenopausal women. Epidemiology. 2001 Jul;12(4):420-8.
  11. Larsson SC et al. Folate and risk of breast cancer: a meta-analysis. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2007 Jan 3;99(1):64-76.
    Kim YI. Does a high folate intake increase the risk of breast cancer? Nutr Rev. 2006 Oct;64(10 Pt 1):468-75.
  12. Figueiredo JC et al. Folic acid and risk of prostate cancer: results from a randomized clinical trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009 Mar 18;101(6):432-5. Epub 2009 Mar 10.
    Fife, J et al. Folic Acid Supplementation and Colorectal Cancer Risk; A Meta-analysis. Colorectal Dis. 2009 Oct 27. [Epub ahead of print]
  13. Whitrow MJ. Effect of Supplemental Folic Acid in Pregnancy on Childhood Asthma: A Prospective Birth Cohort Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Oct 30. [Epub ahead of print]
  14. Haberg SE, London SJ, Stigum H, Nafstad P, Nystad W. Folic acid supplements in pregnancy and early childhood respiratory health. Arch Dis Child. 2009 Mar;94(3):180-4. Epub 2008 Dec 3.
  15. Källén B. Congenital malformations in infants whose mothers reported the use of folic acid in early pregnancy in Sweden. A prospective population study. Congenit Anom (Kyoto). 2007 Dec;47(4):119-24.
  16. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, 2006. What we eat in America, NHANES. 2003-2004.
  17. Kwan ML et al. Maternal diet and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Public Health Rep. 2009 Jul-Aug;124(4):503-14.
    Tower RL et al. The epidemiology of childhood leukemia with a focus on birth weight and diet. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2007;44(3):203-42.
    Petridou E et al. Maternal diet and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in young children.Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):1935-9.
    Jensen CD et al. Maternal dietary risk factors in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (United States).Cancer Causes Control. 2004 Aug;15(6):559-70.
    Huncharek M et al. A meta-analysis of maternal cured meat consumption during pregnancy and the risk of childhood brain tumors. Neuroepidemiology. 2004 Jan-Apr;23(1-2):78-84.
  18. http://www.nutritiondata.com/tools/nutrient-search
  19. Gautam CS, Saha L, Sekhri K, Saha PK. Iron Deficiency in Pregnancy and the Rationality of Iron Supplements Prescribed During Pregnancy. Medscape J Med. 2008; 10(12): 283.
  20. Cogswell ME et al. Assessment of iron deficiency in US preschool children and nonpregnant females of childbearing age: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003-2006. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1334-42. Epub 2009 Apr 8.
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