Prenatal vitamins are a mess.

Plus: What’s the deal with the candida cleanse diet?

Friday. Panera is making headlines again, and this time, it isn’t because their caffeinated lemonade is giving people heart attacks (REMEMBER THIS STORY?). Rumor has it California Governor Gavin Newsom may be playing favorites here, adding a loophole that allows Panera to avoid the state’s new $20 minimum wage law. Why would Panera be exempt? It turns out this exemption only applies to fast-food chains that sell bread as a standalone item. It also turns out that a wealthy restauranteur and owner of multiple Panera locations in California is a good friend and a generous donor for Gavin Newsom (READ THE BLOOMBERG PIECE HERE)

It’s probably just an innocent coincidence. Politicians would never play favorites. Panera Bread has not commented on the matter. They do have an excellent sourdough, though. 

Moving on—prenatal vitamins are an absolute mess. Let’s dive in.


Watch Out For Those Prenatal Vitamins

Baby Bump

Pregnancy is a time full of excitement and anticipation, but it also comes with a laundry list of dos and don’ts to ensure the health of both the mom-to-be and the baby. What should you eat, what medications are safe to take, what should you avoid, is soft cheese bad for you, is sushi bad for you, how much exercise is too much exercise, etc? 

That being said, one of the top universally accepted recommendations from healthcare providers is the intake of prenatal vitamins. However, lax regulation surrounding these supplements can make things a bit complicated. 

Unfortunately for moms, recent findings from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have raised eyebrows and questions about the reliability of these crucial vitamins (READ THE REPORT).

The GAO embarked on an investigation into prenatal vitamins, selecting 12 best-selling supplements from major retailers for lab testing. The results were somewhat unsettling, revealing that nearly all the tested vitamins contained nutrient levels that deviated from what their labels claimed. 

This discrepancy wasn’t minor either, especially concerning folic acid in gummy vitamins, which was found to be up to 255% more than the label indicated. While folic acid is vital for reducing the risk of birth defects, such overages bring into question the safety of consuming significantly more than the recommended daily allowance.

And the issue of mislabeling doesn’t stop there. Other essential nutrients like iodine, iron, and vitamins A, C, and E also showed varying levels, sometimes far from their labeled quantities. This inconsistency raises a critical concern: if prenatal vitamins, seen as a nutritional safety net for women during such a crucial time, aren’t accurately labeled, how much can they be trusted?

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA), responsible for ensuring the safety of our food and drugs, has a notably hands-off approach when it comes to dietary supplements, including prenatal vitamins. This lack of stringent oversight means minimal pre-market approval and regulation, leaving the industry primarily to police itself. 

This hands-off approach has led to the current situation where the accuracy of prenatal vitamin labels is taken at face value without the rigorous checks that might prevent the type of discrepancies we see today. 

While not indicating any immediate danger to health, the GAO's findings highlight a broader issue of transparency and accountability in the supplement industry. The prenatal vitamin market, universally recommended by doctors, lacks independent oversight, standards, or even voluntary guidelines on what these supplements should contain beyond folic acid.

This lack of clarity and consistency leaves expecting parents in a tough place. What are you supposed to do if your health care professional recommends a prenatal, but you know that the entire supplement industry is basically the Wild West? 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) supports increased FDA oversight to ensure these supplements are safe and accurately labeled. However, without action from Congress, significant changes to the oversight of prenatal vitamins remain unlikely.

The key takeaway? For now, expecting parents are left to do their own research, seeking reputable brands or third-party certifications that might offer some reassurance. But should this responsibility fall solely on consumers? Or should our regulatory bodies step up to ensure the quality and safety of prenatal vitamins? 

Finding the right balance here is tough, but providing peace of mind to the families that rely on these vitamins during one of life’s most critical periods is something we should try to figure out. 


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What’s The Deal With The Candida Cleanse Diet?

whole foods haul

We are still in January, which means people might still be looking to change things up and start the year on the right foot. So, what’s the next big diet trend? Maybe you’ve heard of the Candida cleanser diet. Perhaps you’ve thought about giving it a try. So what does this diet entail, and should you seriously consider it? 

Candida is a common fungus found in the human body, typically in areas such as the mouth, skin, digestive tract, toenails, rectum, and vagina (READ MORE). Generally, it’s harmless, but an overgrowth can lead to infection. The candida diet is designed to alleviate symptoms of candida infections by following a strict regimen and eliminating specific foods. But here’s the catch: no scientific evidence supports its effectiveness.

The diet aims to reduce inflammation and cure candida infection by limiting sugar, carbohydrates, and yeast-containing foods. At the same time, the diet calls for increasing probiotic-rich foods. 

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