NAC – is it going away, what to do & What to look for in a prenatal vitamin

Part 1: N-acetyl cysteine

In the first half of today’s episode, Caitlin and Sophia discuss the potential shortage of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), a supplement you may be taking to improve cervical mucus, egg quality, and blood sugar control. 

So, first things first. What is happening with NAC? Well, the FDA recently submitted paperwork to re-classify NAC as a drug rather than a supplement, prompting some sellers to pull the product from their shelves. Why is this happening? NAC is being studied as a treatment for COVID-19 and, if successful, pharmaceutical companies are going to want to patent the drug. Bottom line, NAC is getting harder to find. Please note: NAC has not been found to be harmful or contaminated, so if you are currently taking it, it is safe to continue to do so. 

Ok, so why does this matter? NAC is a great supplement for improving fertility because it addresses 3 big players in infertility: cervical mucus, egg quality, and blood sugar balance. Are there other supplements that can help? Absolutely. But what makes NAC so great is that it checks multiple boxes (so, less pills!) with minimal side effects. Alternatives to NAC, including liposomal glutathione (for cervical mucus and egg quality) and myo-inositol or berberine ( for blood sugar balance) are discussed. As always, you can’t out-supplement a poor diet, so make sure you are nourishing your body and staying hydrated! And please check in with your naturopath, dietitian, or physician before starting a new supplement routine.

Part 2: What to Look for in a Prenatal Multivitamin

In the second half of the episode, Caitlin and Sophia review what to look out for when choosing a prenatal vitamin and discuss some of their favorite brands, and some of their not-so-favorite ones.

Of course, food first is always the preference, but with our busy lives and modern farming practices, we may still be lacking in some important nutrients, particularly when our needs are increased during pregnancy. So what things do you want to check for when you’re picking out a prenatal? First, check the bottle or website to make sure the manufacturer uses 3rd party testing. This ensures an outside party is checking the product for contaminants, purity, and potency. Next, it’s preferable not to have both calcium and iron in the same supplement. These minerals compete for absorption, so you probably won’t be getting enough of either one. 

Making sure vitamins are in their active form and that there are meaningful amounts of each nutrient is so important and many OTC brands that you’d find at the drugstore just aren’t up to snuff here. Specific nutrients to pay attention to: B vitamins, choline, vitamins A, D, and K, magnesium, and selenium. And ideally, your omega-3s will be coming from a separate fish oil supplement to ensure you’re getting a meaningful amount.

So what brands do Caitlin and Sophia recommend? At the top of the list is Full Circle Prenatal, developed by fellow dietitian Ayla Barmmer. Another close second is the Optimal Prenatal by Seeking Health, which is available in pill, chewable, and protein powder forms. Thorne Basic Prenatal and Smarty Pants Prenatal are also acceptable options in certain circumstances, but be aware that they may be lacking in some nutrients. Some popular brands you may be better off steering clear of include Ritual, Nature Made, Honest, and Garden of Life. Bottom line: eat real food and take a quality prenatal.


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