Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Shakeology and Pregnancy: The great Vitamin A debate

The biggest question I have received since I made my pregnancy public (at least for those who don't see me everyday and kind of figured it out) is "What are you doing about your shakes?"

And that question plagued me the minute I saw two little lines pop up on the pregnancy test. So I put my advanced English degree to use and started doing research. I started with my friend Katy who I knew drank shakeo during her second pregnancy. I asked her how she approached her doctor and her doctor's response. I wanted to make sure I had all the information I needed when I headed to my first appointment.

The other thing I really wanted to figure out WHY some doctors were clearing it as totally fine and
others were telling women to hold off and not drink it during pregnancy.  Was it that some doctors aren't familiar with the product and ALL the ingredients and really didn't have the time to dig into it so they were saying no just in case? Or were there real issues to be concerned about and maybe these doctors knew more about that. Because dealing with certain herbs and other ingredients we don't normally use can be tricky. Studies aren't done on pregnant women so when there is a question and no one really knows the answer, everyone aires on the side of caution....which makes sense.

BUT if shakeology was so good for me daily before, why shouldn't it be amazing for me during pregnancy?

And should I wait until my doctor's appointment to see if they are cleared or keep taking them until I can talk to my doctor?

So many questions....so many possible answers and reasons. Seriously....motherhood starts the minute you pee on a stick and it says pregnant. And it doesn't get any easier.

So I dug in and this is what I found:

When I asked my previously pregnant colleagues, those that had doctors that said no to shakeology during pregnancy did so due to the levels of Vitamin A. And for good reason....too much vitamin A has been linked to birth defects like cleft lip, cleft palate,  hydrocephalus (water on the brain) or major heart malformations.  (For more information on Vitamin A and the study done at the Boston University School of Medicine click here.) 

BUT there is a difference in the type of vitamin A you are getting (which the above article also states.) Vitamin A from animal sources (liver is the biggest source and is not recommended to eat during pregnancy but it is also found in fish oil, fish and seafood, dairy and fortified cereal.) and preformed vitamin A (which your body uses directly and is also known as retinol) is responsible for the birth defects while vitamin A derived from carotenoids (which your body converts to vitamin A and includes beta carotene) is not....so you can munch carrots and other vitamin A rich fruits and veggies to your hearts content. 

With all the scary problems listed above why not avoid vitamin A altogether? Well it is kind of important for mom and baby. It helps with embryonic growth (source). It's important for mom because it helps with tissue repair (important post partum!) and also supports vision and a healthy immune system.

So what kind of vitamin A is in shakeology? 

The whey blends of shakeology (Chocolate, Vanilla, Greenberry and Strawberry) are fortified which makes it easy to list all the vitamin amounts. (Yay consistency!) Chocolate, Greenberry and Strawberry all contain 5,000 IU of vitamin A sourced from beta-carotene and Vanilla has 500 IU. This is only so it doesn't cause issues in the coloration due to it being derived from beta-carotene (which is what makes carrots and pumpkins orange.)

Below is the nutritional label from chocolate shakeology. I circled the vitamin A content in pink so it was easy to find.

But I drink vegan shakeology and it isn't fortified....

And I do. I don't do well with diary so I drink the vegan formula which made this whole thing a lot trickier.

Well it did and only at first.

The reason that vegan shakeology does not have the vitamins and minerals listed on the packaging is because those are derived from whole foods. Which, was one of the reasons I loved the vegan formula so much in the first place.

Just because there aren't added vitamins, doesn't mean there aren't any vitamins at all. I have been drinking vegan shakeology for almost two years and have noticed many benefits, one being that I don't get sick as often as I used to.

So what did my* doctor say....

She pretty much told me all I need to do is add a folate supplement (or folic acid, I chose to take folate because it is the natural form of folic acid. Folate is what is found in food where folic acid is the synthetic version. I found a pretty reputable brand on Amazon that wasn't very expensive.)

She also told me that since I had issues with prenatals making me sick during my last pregnancy, Shakeology may even be a better option for me than a prenatal would. I really had to play with when to take my prenatal last time. It would make me extremely nauseous. This time I didn't have that issue at all. I made sure I took my shake everyday. I did make it more of a snack though instead of having
it as a meal replacement. I found that I was hungrier (I mean growing a whole new person does require a lot of energy and this way I was getting the extra calories I needed for a healthy pregnancy.)

Interested in talking to your doctor about Shakeology? Here is a great resource to get the conversation started. Click here to download.

* This was MY doctor's opinion for MY pregnancy. Everyone is different and has different circumstances which make all of our pregnancies different. If you are curious about Vitamin A in pregnancy, Shakeology during pregnancy or have any pregnancy questions you need to talk to YOUR doctor(s). They know your history and what will be best for you and your growing family. I am not a doctor and this post is just strictly for sharing my experience.







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  2. I am a coach and newly pregnant, and have been drinking Shakeology for a yr and a half. I came across this blog (and others like it) and am curious how you know you're getting enough nutrients in the vegan Shakeology? I know there are SOME but even the whey-based formula was lacking many nutrients compared to my prenatal the dr prescribed (which I have yet to take, as I was relying on my shakeo). I just wanted to *make sure* I'm getting everything from the Shakeo that I would get in the prenatal, and after finding the whey-based formula to be lacking, I really would like some #s on the vegan formula. Did you find any? How were you reassured that the vegan formula had enough? (Note: I would love some hard evidence other than "I did it and my baby turned out fine." ;) Not saying you would say that, but as a preggo mama I want solid #s. I'm fine with taking my prenatal in addition to vegan shakeo but I want to make sure I wouldn't take in too much of some things. Any info you have is so appreciated!

    1. I was sort of relying on what I had heard "Shakeo has just as much as my prenatal!" but the Emerald/green in me wanted to make a chart so I could hand it over to the dr if I got any questions. I was surprised to see it DIDN'T have as much as my prenatal and now I'm not quite sure what to do...

    2. Hi Stefanie,

      I don't have any numbers on the vegan shakeology but I believe it is still because they don't add any synthetic vitamins. I showed everything to my doctor and she was totally find with me adding just folate. I ate a pretty well rounded diet and was comfortable with that (but that was what worked for me.) And I did end up adding iron later in my pregnancy too based on my blood work.

      As for comparing it to your prenatal....talk to your doctor and do whatever YOU feel most comfortable with. We mamas have enough to worry about with our kiddos and babies, the last thing we need is one more thing to stress over. If you decide to do a prenatal and give up shakeology for 9 months, your business will survive. You need to do what works for YOU and YOUR pregnancy. Don't let anyone pressure you in either direction.

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