During your pregnancy, it’s so important to make sure that you get plenty of vitamins and nutrients, not only for you but also for that little one of yours to grow and develop just how they should. While eating a healthy and well balanced diet certainly can do this, it’s highly recommended to expecting mothers to supplement their diets with prenatal vitamins to guarantee that they get the necessary nutrients and vitamins. For pregnant women, when you’re combating morning sickness, bloating, food aversions, and pregnancy cravings, the task of eating copious amounts of highly nutritious foods and being baby’s only source of nutrition can become stressful and overwhelming. The addition of prenatal vitamins can help you make sure that your baby is getting everything that they need to grow, taking a little bit of the pressure off of the mommy-to-be.
In those of us with celiac or non-celiac gluten intolerance, the gluten free diet we follow is essential for us to live a healthy life from day to day. Just a reminder, in our gluten free diet we typically avoid foods that contain wheat, rye, barley, and oats. While this diet is essential to heal and avoid future gluten imposed damage, the absence of these key nutritional elements can result in low levels of essential vitamins and nutrients. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, the restrictions of the gluten free diet can result in low levels of calcium iron, fiber, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin D, and magnesium, not very optimal for normal everyday life let alone pregnancy. Hence why it’s imperative to replace these vitamins and nutrients via a healthy and well balanced diet and also through supplements. Women who are gluten free and considering pregnancy, should absolutely continue their gluten free diet which ensures their good health, but also should begin taking prenatal vitamins as soon as possible; in fact, it is recommended to begin supplementation at least 3 months prior to planned conception. Before you can begin taking a prenatal vitamin though, you have to determine which vitamins are acceptable in your diet and meet your specific health needs according to your doctor.
Before my pregnancy, I had been doing lots of gluten free research regarding prenatal growth and development and came upon a hugely important fact. Gluten can actually be found in a number of over-the-counter and prescription prenatal vitamins, along with many other medicines. Being somewhat newer to the gluten free world, I personally was not even aware that gluten could potentially be hidden in medicines, let alone vitamins. Thankfully, I found the first piece to the gluten free pregnancy puzzle allowing me to do a lot of homework before my pre-pregnancy appointment.
During my research, I soon learned that there was somewhat of a small population of gluten free prenatal vitamins, and among those, many of them contain essential omega-3 fatty acids that originate from fish. Personally, I am not a fish person by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t eat any seafood and to be honest any hint of a fishy smell makes me incredibly queasy. I grew up in a household filled with seafood allergies so I’ve never eaten anything from the sea. This aversion carried through to my adult diet, much to the dismay of my shellfish loving husband. Unfortunately when it comes to prenatal vitamins this poses a bit of a problem as the omega-3 component usually derives from fish oil. With the rampant family seafood allergies and my sensitivity to any kind of fishy smell or aftertaste, I prefer a plant based omega-3 component, narrowing my selection even more.
After attempting to compile a list of potential prenatal vitamins that could work for me, I quickly learned that there was little to no information on gluten content in prenatal vitamins, over-the-counter or prescription. I did however learn recommended vitamin levels, especially those that are critical for individuals following a gluten free diet. Armed with as much information that the internet could provide me with, I was ready for my pre-pregnancy appointment with my doctor where I could review my prenatal vitamin options, overall diet guidelines to follow, and learn overall healthy pregnancy lifestyle information.
With regards to prenatal vitamins, I quickly learned that folic acid was the most important ingredient to focus on. My doctor indicated that a high level of folic acid (about 1 mg) is optimal for a prenatal vitamin, along with of course it being gluten free in my case. Just a side note about folic acid, while it can be found in dark and leafy greens as well as gluten free grains, unlike gluten containing cereals, breads, and pastas, gluten free versions of these are not fortified or enriched with folic acid, limiting the sources of dietary folate to be consumed in a gluten free diet. Supplementation for this ingredient alone is necessary in order to reach the high level of folic acid that is recommended. With the consideration of my dietary restrictions in conjunction with my individual health needs, we together chose the prescription strength Select-OB + DHA. This prenatal supplement is free of lactose, gluten, fish, fish oils, fish proteins, and fish byproducts, meaning its DHA/Omega-3 component is obtained from a plant based material, algae oil (yay, no fishy flavor for me!!). For my needs, prescription strength Select-OB + DHA was right for me, however everyone’s health and specific needs differ, so you should always be sure to review your course of action with your doctor.
After taking just one step into a gluten free pregnancy, I soon learned that navigating the next 9 months would not be as simple as I had hoped. Just to find an appropriate gluten free prenatal vitamin was a task and a half so I feared what the months to come would bring. In retrospect, a gluten free pregnancy is not as scary as I had first anticipated but it certainly comes with its challenges. My goal is to help you through those challenges, step by step. First comes first, you have to decide what prenatal vitamin works for you and that’s where I can help. I’ve collected several doctor recommended, prescription strength gluten free prenatal vitamins in one place, no more scouring the internet for this information. As always, do your homework and review these options, check out their websites, call their manufacturers for more information, and compare vitamin and nutrient levels. When it comes times to choosing the vitamin that works for you, you’ll be ready to discuss your options with your doctor and decide which vitamin would work best for your individual needs.
Hopefully this list will give you a place to start and make your prenatal vitamin decision a bit easier. At your appointment, make sure you remind your doctor that you require a gluten free vitamin and suggest a few of these options. Additionally, ask if they have any other gluten free recommendations that you should consider. What I’ve learned from my experience, is the stress and anxiety that goes into navigating a gluten free pregnancy can be alleviated by all of us helping each other. By doing so, we can create a wealth of knowledge and advice to help ourselves and others succeed in dietary restricted pregnancies. So my advice to all of you is to not be afraid to seek advice whenever possible, share any new information that you learn with others, and use sources such as these to make your pregnancy easier.
|Select-OB + DHA||CitraNatal 90 DHA||VitaMedMD One|
|Description||Prenatal berry flavored chewable or swallowable vitamin and DHA softgel (1 of each per day); plant-based DHA; no fish taste, smell, or aftertaste||Prenatal vitamin tablet and DHA capsule (1 of each per day); plant-based DHA; contains stool softener and calcium citrate for less gas and bloating; provides extra iron when extra iron is needed||Prenatal vitamin and DHA softgel (1 of each per day); plant-based DHA|
|Folic Acid||1 mg||1 mg||975 mcg|
|DHA||250 mg||300 m||200 mg|
|Iron||29 mg||90 mg||30 mg|
|Vitamin A (acetate & beta carotene)||1700 IU||0 IU||0 IU|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamine mononitrate)||1.6 mg||3 mg||1.5 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||1.8 mg||3.4 mg||1/7 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride)||2.5 mg||20 mg||25 m|
|Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin)||5 mcg||0 mcg||8 mcg|
|Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)||60 mg||120 mg||60 mg|
|Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)||400 IU||400 IU||400 IU|
|Vitamin E (di-alpha tocopheryl acetate)||30 IU||30 IU||21 IU|
|Manufacturer||Everett Laboratories, Inc.||Mission Parmacal||VitaMedMD|
|For More Product Information||Select-OB + DHA||CitraNatal 90 DHA||VitaMedMD One|