Prepregnancy Vitamin Supplement

Hi Sue,

I am planning to get pregnant in the next few months. I visited a midwife who put me on Stuartnatal 1+1 vitamins, but since they're prescription they don't say what exactly is in them, and the labels from the pharmacist were confusing -- one said "take with milk or food" and the other said "do not take with dairy products." I understand that the iron could bond with calcium, which is a problem, but I would like more info -- i.e. can I have it at breakfast, when I drink coffee with a little milk? Also I can't find a listing of the exact contents.

Thanks!
Jenny

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Jenny,
This is an important question, and one that you should pose to your pharmacist. They are educated in the field of drug and food interactions, and should be very familiar with the contents of the prescriptions that they fill. Conflicting information should be cleared up. Please take this question back to the person that filled the prescription. If they cannot answer the question to your satisfaction, you should go elsewhere.

A recent study that was news in the lay press several months ago highlighted the deficiencies of some pharmacists. They were given false prescriptions to fill for an undercover journalist. The prescription was for two drugs that were dangerous to take together. In a large percentage of the cases, the pharmacists filled both without warning to the customer!

This information is certainly not to scare you, but to let you know that there are particular skills on which you depend on your pharmacists to have. Drug-drug and drug-food interactions are one of them.

More often than not, vitamins are recommended to be taken with food, since other, unidentified factors, may help in the absorption of the vitamins and minerals. It is also true that certain food factors cannot only enhance but also inhibit the absorption of specific vitamins and minerals. For example, iron absorption is greatly enhanced in the presence of vitamin C, but may be inhibited by such things as calcium phosphate, bran, and the polyphenols in tea. Zinc absorption is greatly reduced by the presence of bran, and enhanced by the presence of white bread, milk and soy.

Nutrition is a highly complex biochemical process and often the search for a simple answer will reveal that one is not to be found. In this case, your pharmacist should be able to tell you the best way to take the vitamin. It may not be the optimum way for all nutrients present in that supplement, but hopefully it will be the best way on average. Just the fact that you are preparing for pregnancy by using a supplement at all is a great sign that you are aware of the importance of nutrition in the successful outcome of a pregnancy, even before being pregnant. Kudos to you for your proactive steps.

Sincerely,
Sue Gilbert

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