Friday, September 22, 2006

Prescription Prenatal Vitamins + DHA supplement

At the very first prenatal visit here in Texas, my doctor gave me a prescription for Citrical prenatal vitamins that included a DHA supplement. A prescription prenatal? Why? It costs $20 for a 30 day supply -- and that's with health insurance!

I had been taking a generic prenatal vitamin from the time we started thinking about having Tex since its important to get at least three months of folic acid in your system before pregnancy to help prevent some neural birth defects. With Peanut, I had taken the LadyVita vitamin for pregnant and nursing mothers which was available at the apteekki.

In the beginning, I asked the OB/GYN I had seen in Finland for a pre-pregnancy check-up which folic acid supplement to take. She looked confused and didn't understand why I wanted to take it. Hmmmm???

Then, once pregnant, I asked my midwife in Finland which brand of prenatal vitamin she recommended. She wondered why I would even be taking a prenatal vitamin. In her opinion, as long as I ate a healthy and proper diet, I didn't need any additional vitamins. "Those Americans just eat hamburgers and french fries so they are not healthy enough without vitamins," she scoffed.

Yes, that's probably true, but a pregnancy diet needs to be very carefully balanced and followed everyday in order to get the needed vitamins and minerals consistently. However, my philosophy during my pregnancy was to do everything in moderation and to continue doing those things I had prior to pregnancy (within guidelines of course!). I have virtually always taken vitamin supplements so that's what I planned to continue to do. I do follow a pregnancy diet and eat well, but know that I'm no nutrition expert and sometimes given to laziness in the kitchen.

Nonetheless, I was not wholly sold on the idea of prescription prenatal vitamin. My doctor explained its valuable because of the lower amounts of vitamin A and higher amounts of calcium as compared to generics. Most importantly, it came with the DHA supplement. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid considered to be key to healthy brain, eye and nervous system development. My usual source has been salmon, but I know I don't eat it frequently enough.

Though there is no official FDA recommended daily allowance for DHA, the concensus (I found on the Internet) seems fall between 200 - 350 mg/day for pregnant women.

So, my current solution is this: continue with my generic prenatal because its so much cheaper, drink some extra milk/fortified OJ for more calcium and pick up the a separate DHA supplement available OTC for less the $20 I would pay a month for the prescription vitamin. As a bonus, each box of the Expecta brand DHA supplement comes with a coupon for $1.50 off your next purchase.


Anonymous said...

I think you can avoid the prescription vitamins if you're trying really hard to get some of that extra good stuff. My wife got a prescription too, and she didn't fill it either. All was well with us in the end.

Peanut's Mom said...

I think so, too. Its nice to know that science and medicine are innovating and searching for the latest to help make our babies as healthy as possible, but sometimes I think common sense and behaviour will get you there as well.

Peanut's Mom said...

This is from an email a friend sent - C.C.'s Mom says

"definitely take over the counter prenatal - youcan get online and see what you need in a goodprenatal and then just compare to the over the counterbrand you are taking."

Peanut's Mom said...

Another emailed comment, this time from a Finnish friend living in the US:

Yes, in Finland they do recommend taking folic acid before and during pregnancy. Actually, all the time if you are of child-bearing age and sexually active ;-)

I read this somewhere in Finland. One friend who was visiting bought folic acid here because vitamins are cheaper than in Finland (she was trying to get pregnant, but it turned out later that she was already pregnant which made me feel a bit bad serving margaritas to her! Though it turned out she had just pretended to drink them..)

It must have been an exception, this doctor in Finland wondering about taking folic acid.Other vitamins are probably not mentioned because of the general attitude that its best to avoid any pills during your pregnancy as long as you can.

Yes, I too got a prescription prenatal here in the US and obidiently took them. I didn't realize until after my son was born I could take a generic and then did so for a couple of months.