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What is a “green” prenatal vitamin?



Question: What is a ‘”green” prenatal vitamin? I am guessing that it is an organic version, but what is the real difference? Is there a special benefit? Are they available over the counter or prescription?

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Christine Climer replies: If you go to the health food store and compare multi-vitamins, you’ll see two kinds. One is your standard vitamin, like prescription prenatals or other over-the-counter varieties like Centrum brand, which is made from the individual chemical ingredients (retinal palmitate, ascorbic acid and so on).

Then you have another type that is actual dried foods/herbs containing those vitamins/minerals. The theory is that bodies are made to absorb nutrients from foods, so the nutrients in food form are better. I don’t personally adhere to this line of thinking. Your body is going to absorb the Vitamin C it needs and dump the rest, whether it come from in a pill or a pitcher of orange juice.

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The nutrient concentrations in whole-food supplements are small in comparison with those in standard vitamins, so you’re going to have to take a whole lot more in order to get the same dosage. Where you might take one prescription prenatal or other over-the-counter prenatal, you may have to take two to three “green” ones up to three times per day. And they aren’t cheap!

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if you get supplementary vitamins from concentrated plants or from laboratory stocks. Both are an unnatural method of getting enough of what we need. Unless product labelling makes you feel better, making the choice that’s right for you is really a question of what specific nutrients you’re looking for and in what quantities.

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© Christine Climer

Christine Climer is a registered nurse with experience in pulmonary disease, pediatrics, home health and hospice services. Also trained in early childhood education, she is currently executive director and child care nurse for an early childhood health promotion organization. She lives with her husband and three children (including a set of twins) in Texas and enjoys researching health issues and gardening.

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