by Amy Medling, founder of PCOS Diva
By now you know that not all supplements are created equally. You may have learned it from the countless news reports of supplements being pulled from store shelves, or you may have ready my article, “Choosing the Right Supplement for PCOS: Not All Supplements Are Created Equal.”
Whereas supplements are not regulated by the FDA, it is buyer beware whenever you select one. I have always encouraged women to be certain that their supplements are quality certified by a third party, know the ingredients and understand the dosage.
Recently, I came across a product called PregPrep that is being heavily marketed and claiming to “promote conception.” Curious, I ordered a box to check it out. What I found was concerning, and it became clear that I had better issue a second warning about intentionally vague labels and questionable doses and ingredients.
Let’s start with vague labeling.
What does “proprietary blend” mean? It means the seller doesn’t want to tell you the amounts of each ingredient in the product. Typically, ingredients are listed from most to least abundant. In this label, we see that N-Acetyl cysteine (NAC) is (hypothetically) the most common element in the supplement. That’s terrific. NAC can be very beneficial to women trying to conceive. For more information on NAC, read, “Can NAC Boost Your Fertility and Reduce PCOS Symptoms?”
So, how much NAC does PregPrep contain? For fertility, the recommended starting dose is at least 600 mg three times daily. For example, in PCOS Diva N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), each capsule contains 900mg. How much are we getting in this product? There is no way to know.
What is the story with these dosage directions?
As I noted, for fertility, the starting dose of NAC is usually 600 mg three times daily. This “fertility supplement” product only doses twice a day, and of an unknown amount. Well known integrative gynocologist Dr. Felice Gersh says that “most integrative practitioners would recommend using NAC every day of the cycle, not just approaching ovulation time.”
What if your cycle isn’t completely regular? You could end up taking this way too early or too late!
It is important that dosing instructions are simple and clear. Supplements are serious business. Estimation has no place when it comes to dosage of powerful substances.
Finally, I worry about questionable ingredients and misleading wording.
I cannot find any evidence that the contents of these tablets are third party certified. That raises alarm bells for me.
Also, the sellers seem to use “folic acid” and “folates” interchangeably. There is a HUGE difference. This product contains folic acid- the inexpensive, synthetic version of folates. A significant proportion of women are unable to fully utilize folic acid due to certain genetic traits. Folates eliminate that problem. For more information about folic acid v. folates read, “What Every Woman with PCOS Needs to Know About Folic Acid.”
In addition, notes Dr. Gersh, they use the form of B12 cyanocobalomine, a form of B12 not well utilized by some who have the genetic situation reducing their ability to convert that form of B12 to the active version.
Concerning the Vitamin D- without testing, it’s not possible to know the correct dose a woman should receive. Please talk to your doctor before taking vitamin D. Also, research indicates that vitamin K2 is essential for Vitamin D to work at maximum capability. Unlike PCOS Diva’s Super D, the K2 is missing from this supplement.
What are all of these “other ingredients” or additives? Items contained in this product include titanium dioxide, silica, polyethylene glycol, polyvinyl alcohol, mannitol, sorbitol and more. Dr. Gersh strongly suggests avoiding such additives. In the integrative medicine (and PCOS Diva) philosophy, the fewer additives, the better, particularly when pregnancy is concerned.
Finally, Dr. Gersh and I share the concern that women will think this is a substitute for a quality prenatal vitamin. In fact, the supplement in this product is far from a complete prenatal multivitamin. Prenatal vitamins contain essential nutrients missing in the product’s pills, such as iodine, magnesium, iron, and the entire additional array of vitamins and minerals! Also, probiotics and Omega 3 are missing from the group. These are very important for fertility functions and for a healthy pregnancy.
The contents of PregPrep are not original in any way. Doctors have recommended the elements for many years. The producers just found an inexpensive way to deliver a few key ingredients and then marketed it like there was no tomorrow.
While I do not believe that PregPrep is inherently dangerous, it is an excellent example of marketing over efficacy. There are certainly much better options out there for women trying to conceive and looking for a fertility supplement.
As I always say, Knowledge is Power. Please read labels and carefully research ingredients, dosages and manufacturing processes.
Speak with your doctor when considering any supplements (be they herbal or traditional). If your doctor is unfamiliar with supplements, try to locate a functional medicine or integrative physician since they are well versed in such matters.
*Special thanks to Dr. Felice Gersh for lending her knowledge and perspective in preparing this article.