Differentiating between prenatal vitamins and dietary supplements

vitamin-supplementsTaking dietary supplements is always recommended even if you are eating healthy. Dietary supplements include things like vitamins, minerals, probiotics, enzymes, fish oil, amino acids, herbals, and botanicals. They come in different forms ranging from capsules, powder to tablets. There is always a problem for pregnant mothers who get confused between taking prenatal vitamins and dietary supplements.

How are prenatal vitamins different from dietary supplements?

Prenatal vitamins can contain almost every nutrient found in dietary supplements, but dietary supplements will lack some nutrients that are meant for the baby. Most dietary supplements will lack nutrients like iron and folic acid which are in plenty in prenatal vitamins.

The two main nutrients that must be found in every prenatal vitamin include:

Folic acid: Folic acid is very crucial in the healthy development of the baby helping prevent neural tube defects. Neural tube defects cause serious abnormalities to the spinal cord and the brain.

Iron: Iron which lacks in some dietary supplements is also very crucial in the development of the baby. Babies who develop anemia (a condition of having a low number of healthy blood cells) usually receive low amounts of iron when in their mother’s womb.

Prenatal vitamins must not be confused with dietary supplements. Dietary supplements can be taken by both men and women of all ages, but prenatal vitamins are meant for pregnant mothers. Most of the nutrients in dietary supplements can be found in prenatal vitamins, but those specific for the healthy growth and development of the baby might lack.

Which is the best prenatal vitamin?

Prenatal vitamins can be bought over-the –counter, shopping website (saving more via Amazon coupons) or be prescribed by your doctor. When buying prenatal vitamins, consider the ones with the following nutrients:

Folic acid
Calcium
Vitamin D
Iron
Vitamin C, A, and E
Zinc
Iodine
Copper

Prenatal vitamins should not be a solution to all your baby’s nutrient requirements, prenatal DHA is also important. Prenatal vitamins and dietary supplements complement a healthy diet as diet alone cannot supply the body with all the required nutrition.

Omega-3s support health

We know the fish oil supplements in the market support our cardiovascular, or joint system. But do you know the detail information about the Omega-3s?

omega-3sThere are several types of the Omega-3s, commonly the EPA (eicosapetaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are two contents in the fish oil supplements.

For example, here is the detail content in the GNC Triple Strength Fish Oil:

Total Fish Oils 1373.00 mg **
Total Omega-3s 1065.00 mg **
Total EPA + DHA 1000.00 mg **
EPA (Eicosapentiaenoic Acid)(Omega-3) 734.00 mg **
DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)(omega-3) 267.00 mg **
Other Omega-3s 65.00 mg **

The amount of the EPA (734 mg) and DHA (267 mg) are the efficacy content within the fish oil (1373 mg).

You may notice that there are small amount of Other Omega-3s 65 mg in each of the fish oil pills.

There are some uncommon types of Omega-3 in the fish oil or other supplements.

DPA (Docosapentaenoic acid) – is a straight chain open chain type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. It has similar structure as EPA, and is also a common ingredient that found in fish oil, such as salmon, menhaden, beef, seal meat and the breast milk from nursing women. DPA is extra content in formula powder for infant in the market along with DHA.

There are not so much studies for DPA as EPA and DHA did. In one study in 2013, the DPA used for men and it was associated with a lower rate of developing prostate cancer.

ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is an omega-3 essential fatty aicd, and commonly found in the plant seeds, flaxseed. It can be manufacture in the body, and people have to gain it from our diet. It is interesting content, as it is able to convert small amounts – about 2 to 5% of ALA to DHA, and 5 to 10% of it to EPA. And a higher conversion rate found in vegetarians and young women.

The Omega-3s contents mentioned above are essential for our health, they’ve to be supplied from our dietary. And fish oil, flaxseed, some meat will be the suitable source for people, if you’re a vegetarian, you may need to replace fish oil with Algal oil instead.