Is your prenatal vitamin making you sick?

In an effort to have the healthiest baby possible, most women will seek prenatal vitamins to support a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby, but what if your prenatal supplement is making your morning sickness worse? Is that even possible?
Yes, absolutely.

There are certain ingredients in a prenatal multi that often cause women to feel ill.

Studies have shown that iron supplementation in the first trimester can aggravate the symptoms of morning sickness. There is an increased requirement of iron in pregnancy and women are often deficient which leads to a slight dilemma for the pregnant woman. What I do in clinic is recommend they eat foods high in iron such as red meat, dried peaches and apricots and if a woman is iron-deficient I also recommend Spatone. This can be taken a few times weekly rather than daily if that is all she can tolerate.

Zinc supplementation is known to cause nausea in some people whether they are pregnant or not however zinc is one of the most important minerals throughout the entire preconception, prenatal and postnatal period. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of zinc is 11mg daily and this amount will hopefully not cause nausea for most women.

The pregnancy hormone, hcg, stimulates the thyroid in the first trimester and this is known to aggravate the symptoms of morning sickness. Embryo’s use hcg to increase access to iodine because an embryo’s requirements for nutrients is a top priority during pregnancy, to the detriment of the mother’s health if nutrient supply is deficient. When iodine is plentiful, morning sickness ranges from frequently mild to occasionally severe. If morning sickness is absent this may indicate the woman has hypothyroidism (not always, check with your health professional after a blood test).

A lot of prenatal supplements contain 270mcg of iodine in a daily dose. This is because they have been designed for the entire preconception, prenatal and postnatal period and 270mcg is the RDI during breastfeeding. The RDI during pregnancy is 220mcg and this includes the amount consumed from the diet and supplements combined. 150mcg of iodine is the minimum amount recommended from supplementation. To give you an idea of iodine consumption in the diet, a 1/4 teaspoon of Himalayan crystal salt contains 100mcg of iodine.

High doses of B vitamins can often make women feel ill although it is essential to have at least 500mcg of folate from supplements in the month prior to conception and the first 6 weeks of pregnancy when the neural tube closes. One interesting study showed that high doses of vitamin B12 were effective in relieving the symptoms of morning sickness and several studies have shown a reduction in the frequency and severity of nausea and vomiting in pregnancy with 75mg of vitamin B6 in a daily dose.

As you can see the requirements of nutrients changes dramatically throughout pregnancy. Taking a prenatal supplement that has a separate formula for the first trimester is the sensible option during pregnancy.