Have you ever tried to find a decent prenatal vitamin or DHA supplement? One that doesn’t contain fillers, soy, gluten, sugar, or preservatives? I have, and I can’t believe how hard it is. Both of the health food stores that I frequent in my city have only a few options for prenatal supplements, and NONE of them are adequate.
While surfing the internet a few days ago I came across an article touting a new product called Mommy Water. It claims to be the best thing since stretchy pants for pregnant women. Since many women have troubles with prenatal supplements, the Mommy Water company decided to make a prenatal supplement that you can drink. Apparently it is easy on the stomach, doesn’t induce morning sickness (which many prenatals can), helps with constipation, keeps you hydrated, and tastes great.
All of this sounded wonderful as I was reading the article. I thought “wow, that’s a great idea – I hate swallowing pills”. So I decided I would find out if it really is as great as it claims to be.
The first thing I came across on their website was a short blurb about why Mommy Water is better than other prenatal supplements. Okay, good place to start, I thought.
Reason number 1: Mommy Water is liquid, so the stomach doesn’t have to digest a pill. Many women who experience morning sickness have very sensitive stomachs and even the smallest amount of food, or a supplement capsule, can induce nausea. So yes, I would agree that this would be a benefit to having a liquid supplement.
Reason number 2: Mommy Water hydrates you better as it is combined with electrolytes. Most pregnant women have trouble drinking enough water because their bladders are compressed and they need to relieve themselves so frequently that they avoid drinking any extra water. Electrolytes help your body absorb and utilize the water you drink much better. So I can also see how this would be beneficial. However, this may not be reason enough to drink something. For example, Gatorade is also a hydrating electrolyte drink, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend consuming it. There are easy ways to make up a quick and hydrating water at home that has lots of electrolytes in it, minus the food colouring, flavours and added sugar of store-bought drinks.
Reason number 3: Fibre. Mommy Water contains inulin, a soluble fibre to help with constipation (very common during pregnancy). This may sound great, and it may help many women. But there are some who may not do so well on this type of fibre (not to mention that fibre alone is hardly the whole story on constipation). Keep reading for a more in-depth discussion of inulin.
Reason number 4: Mommy Water limits its fat-soluble vitamins in favour of water-soluble vitamins. They claim that research indicates that high doses of the fat-soluble vitamins can be toxic. They say that most prenatal supplements have too much, so their solution is to completely remove 2 of the most important vitamins for a healthy pregnancy, and include only minimal amounts of the other two. See below for more information on this issue.
Reason number 5: Taste. Apparently Mommy Water tastes great, and I am sure it does. It was designed in a lab by flavour chemists with “natural flavours”. Sold. (just kidding)
So that is why the Mommy Water company claims their product is superior to other prenatal supplements on the market. Some good points made, but… not quite compelling enough to convince me. The next place I checked out was their ingredients list.
The first ingredient on their ‘non-medicinal ingredients’ list is inulin. We spoke briefly of inulin above, but let’s see what the deal really is on this stuff.
The main claim-to-fame that inulin boasts is its ability to stay undigested all the way to your large intestine, where it then feeds bacteria and helps move things along. This is all good, as long as you don’t have any ‘bad’ bacteria in your gut, such as Candida Albicans or Klebsiella.
Inulin is known as a prebiotic, meaning that it acts as food for bacteria. Unfortunately, it doesn’t discriminate between good and bad bacteria, so it will feed the bad guys as well. This isn’t a problem unless you have a Candida overgrowth or other ‘bad guys’ lurking in your intestines (which the vast majority of us do).
According to WebMD, “Not enough is known about the use of inulin during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.” Hmm..
WebMD also mentions that “Inulin decreases the body’s ability to make certain kinds of fats”. They don’t elaborate on this fact and I had trouble finding any other sources for this information.. but I suspect they may be talking about triglycerides, which then would be a certain benefit of inulin.
All in all, be aware of this ingredient and consider it carefully if you suspect you may have a bacterial imbalance in your gut.
Another ingredient on the list that I am concerned about is maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a sweetener made from starch – either corn or wheat.
Too bad corn and wheat are some of the worst substances you can put in your body. They are both extremely hard to digest and contribute to leaky gut, allergies, inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
Not to mention that almost all the corn produced in the world is genetically modified.
Some side effects of consuming maltodextrin can be weight gain, nutrient depletion, allergic reactions, bloating and gas.
Personally I avoid maltodextrin at all costs.
Natural flavours is also on the list, and while this may sound fairly harmless.. there are no regulations around the use of the term “Natural” in food products, and the sad truth is that most ‘natural flavours’ are made in labs from substances that may originate in nature, but are in no way good for us.
In fact, MSG is legally allowed to be listed as Natural Flavour. MSG is a known neurotoxin, causes obesity, and is highly addictive.
Aside from the MSG, natural flavours usually contain GMOs and corn.
Not something I want to be ingesting.
The other added ingredients are fairly harmless.
As for the actual vitamins and minerals in the mix, there is a disturbing lack of vitamin A, even the real, food-based good kind. Vitamin A is absolutely ESSENTIAL to a healthy pregnancy.
According to one source:
“Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin stored in the liver, is important for your baby’s embryonic growth – including the development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and bones, and the circulatory, respiratory, and central nervous systems. It also helps with infection resistance and fat metabolism. Vitamin A is particularly essential for women who are about to give birth, because it helps with postpartum tissue repair. It also helps maintain normal vision and fight infections.”
Now, it is imperative to note here a very important distinction between various forms of vitamin A. Many health practitioners warn pregnant women to stay away from vitamin A during pregnancy because it can be toxic, however they fail to mention that only the SYNTHETIC form of vitamin A is toxic. Not the naturally occurring form found in food (and really good supplements).
In fact, one of the best sources of vitamin A, beef liver, is also one of the best all around foods for pregnancy due to the nutritional punch it packs.
Aside from the lack of vitamin A, there is minimal vitamin E. This is not necessarily a good thing, as “inadequate vitamin E is associated with increased infection, anaemia, stunting of growth and poor outcomes during pregnancy for both the infant and mother”, according to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Advances in Nutrition.
Another study found that higher levels of vitamin E at birth corresponded with improved cognitive function in two-year-old children.
Having said that, there IS vitamin E in Mommy Water, and it is in the right form, so as long as you eat a diet adequate in vitamin E, this is probably sufficient for you. (other sources of vitamin E are avocados, almonds, spinach and sunflower seeds).
The other vitamins that stood out to me were vitamin B12, and folate. Unfortunately, instead of natural, bioavailable folate, they have used synthetic folic acid, which is not utilized by our bodies very well, and can cause some issues for some people. Click here to learn more about the difference between folate and folic acid.
Vitamin B12 is also not in its most bioavailable form, methylcobalamin. Instead, it is the cyanocobalamin form that is in Mommy Water – a cheaper, synthetic variety of B12 that isn’t used by the body very well.
The minerals as well, aren’t in the best forms so it is likely that not many of the nutrients in this supplement are going to be working the way they should and at the level they should be.
One thing I do have to applaud Mommy Water for, is including choline in their product! Choline is a nutrient that is missing in the vast majority of prenatal supplements, however it is critical for the proper development of the brain in growing babies, as well as for preventing “baby brain” in mothers-to-be.
So all in all, while it does have some good qualities, I wouldn’t recommend Mommy Water for most expecting mothers. There are far better options.
If swallowing pills is troublesome on your stomach, try opening up the capsules and pouring the contents into a smoothie or some juice. If you are dehydrated and not getting enough electrolytes, try water with a pinch or two of unrefined sea salt.
What has your experience been with prenatal supplements? Have you tried Mommy Water? Share with us in the comments below!