Centrum Vitamins, including Materna™, is the No. 1 selling brand of vitamins in North America. However, I never recommend this brand of prenatal vitamin to patients as the ingredient label reads like a mish-mash of synthetic chemicals and low-cost ingredients with marginal absorption capability. Below is a more in-depth assessment of the ingredients in Materna™:
Beta-Carotene (a source of Vitamin A) 2500 IU – Beta-carotene is converted in the body to vitamin A.
Vitamin A (Vitamin A as acetate) 1000 IU – Vitamin A acetate is classified as a known reproductive toxicant by the FDA.
Vitamin E (dl- tocopheryl acetate) 30 IU - This is a synthetic form of vitamin E, derived from petroleum products. Synthetic versions of vitamin E are less absorbable than natural forms.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 85 mg - This is another synthetic form of a vitamin and does not offer the same benefits as a natural form of vitamin C.
Folic Acid (folate) 1 mg – Folic acid refers to the oxidized synthetic compound used in dietary supplements and food fortification; 5-MTHF (a form of tetrahydrofolate) is a better option for women of childbearing as as it is an active form of the vitamin that is capable of metabolism by the body for use.
Vitamin B1 (thiamine mononitrate) 1.4 mg – This is yet another synthetic vitamin not naturally found in food or the body.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 1.4 mg – Synthetic riboflavin has very weak vitamin activity.
Niacin (niacinamide) 18 mg
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride) 1.9 mg – Another synthetic vitamin not naturally found in food or the body.
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) 2.6 mcg – Cyanocobalamin is the least absorbable form of B12.
Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) 400 IU – This low dose of vitamin D3 is insufficient to increase serum vitamin D levels but at least it’s a good start. Pregnant women taking 400 IU/day have the same blood levels as pregnant women not taking vitamin D; that is, 400 IU is a meaninglessly small dose for pregnant women.
Biotin 30 mcg
Pantothenic Acid (calcium pantothenate) 6 mg
Calcium (calcium carbonate) 250 mg – Calcium carbonate, unless taken with sufficient acid (or protein and fat, which causes the liver and stomach to produce acid) is absorbed at perhaps 10% efficiency.
Magnesium (magnesium oxide) 50 mg – This form of magnesium is poorly absorbed and has a greater tendency to cause digestive upset and a laxative effect.
Iodine (potassium iodide) 220 mcg
Iron (ferrous fumarate) 27 mg – This is one of the most absorbable forms of iron but has a greater chance of causing constipation and digestive upset.
Copper (cupric sulfate) 1 mg – This chemical compound of copper is also used as a drain cleaner and to induce vomiting. Additionally, it’s used to kill fungus, aquatic plants and roots of plants, parasitic infections in aquarium fish.
Zinc (zinc oxide) 7.5 mg
Chromium (chromium chloride) 30 mcg – This is the least bioavailable form of chromium.
Manganese (manganese sulfate) 2 mg – This is the least absorbable form of manganese.
Molybdenum (sodium molybdate) 50 mcg
Selenium (sodium selenate) 30 mcg – This form of selenium is not found in foods and is most often used to remove green color from glass during manufacturing.
Ascorbyl palmitate – Ascorbyl palmitate is a fat-soluble antioxidant used to increase the shelf life of products.
BHT – BHT is a synthetic antioxidant used as a preservative.
Celluloses – Indigestible fibre used as a binder.
Corn starch – Protects vitamins on their passage through the stomach.
Crospovidone – Increases absorption of active ingredients.
FD&C red no. 40 – Petroleum derived synthetic dye; compounds in Red 40 have been associated with cancer.
Gelatin – Used as a gelling agent and derived from animal by-products.
Magnesium stearate – Magnesium stearate is a commonly used and potentially harmful additive found in many supplements. It has the potential to suppress immune function, damage cell membrane integrity and harm the intestine.
Mineral oil – Mineral oil is a by-product of the distillation of petroleum when making gasoline. It impedes the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals.
Polysorbate 80 – Used as an emulsifier but is linked to infertility; an increased risk of blood clots, stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and of tumor growth or recurrence; and anaphylactic reactions in pregnant women.
Sodium benzoate – Mold inhibitor that deprive mitochondria of oxygen and inhibits immune function. It is also a known carcinogen.
Sodium lauryl sulfate – SLS is a skin, eye and respiratory tract irritant that Environment Canada has also categorized as inherently toxic to aquatic organisms, flagging it for further assessment.
Titanium dioxide – According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, titanium dioxide may be a human carcinogen.