Medication and herbal supplements

Confusion about adjuvant medication, natural herbal supplements. What should I take when I'm trying to fall pregnant? The prenatal vitamins is a supermarket aisles and chemist aisles full of different combination of vitamins and minerals can cause confusion . Some have vitamin D, some are filled with the iron, some have more coenzyme Q10, some have more vitamin E, some have more folic acid than others. What is really the ideal supplement that you need for when you're trying to fall pregnant?

A majority of the time when you're on a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet, people are not deficient of nutrients. It's recommended that 500 micrograms of folic acid be taken three months prior to conception and three months into conception. Anything above folic acid, it's usually best to discuss with your doctor. If you're anemic, you might need some iron supplements. If your vitamin D levels are low, you might need vitamin D supplements. A good multivitamin that has all possible prenatal vitamins and minerals is not a bad idea if you're a poor eater or if your being deficient due to some chronic diseases or gut malabsorption syndromes. They're not necessarily essential.

One of the misconception some of my patients have is the role of folic acid in conception "But doctor, we've been taking folic acid for almost a year and we're not pregnant." Folic acid is not a fertility medication. It's recommended because folic acid helps in growth and development of new cells, especially of neural tubal region, and therefore reduces the incidence of baby's brain development issues or deformity. And so, it's required essentially for the growth and development of new tissue, not necessarily help you fall pregnant.

There are some conditions in which a high dose of folic acid is desirable and it might be patients who are diabetic or patients who have had a previous child affected by neural tube defect like spinal bifida or other neural tube abnormalities. There are some patients who don't absorb folic acid very well, as they have an enzyme defect that prevents adequate metabolism of folic acid ( MTHFR) and we sometimes prescribe a high dose folic acid for those patients or an active form of folic acid called folinic acid.

I suggest any supplements over and above the usual recommendations of preconception formula should be taken with caution. You should discuss it with your doctor.

Please my office on 03 9473 4730 and make an appointment if you would like to discuss it further.

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(c) Chandrika Parmar