This is an honest overview of doTerra's Lifelong Vitality Supplements as a prenatal supplement and a comparison of the formulations from the US and Australian New Zealand warehouses.
Don't shoot the messenger but did you know that the Lifelong Vitality Supplements purchased from the US Warehouse are not the same as the AU/NZ version of the supplements? Truth. They are quite different formulations across certain key nutrients and their use of excipient or technical ingredients as they are sometimes referred to as.
For any doTerra customer based in Australia or New Zealand, we have the great flexibility of being able to order from both the Australian and USA warehouses. Just like Canadians have the option of ordering from the Canada or USA warehouses.
I feel it's important to be transparent on this matter despite the fact many will likely view this article as 'dissing' doTerra. Being able to make an informed and educated decision when you purchase ANYTHING is so important when it comes to your health and well-being. When it comes to supplementation, we need to show the same due diligence.
This is especially important when it comes to choosing a prenatal or opting to use doTerra's Lifelong Vitality Supplements as a prenatal as I know many women do. I think the lifelong vitality supplements fabulous for general health and well-being but I feel they are insufficient as a prenatal when it comes to covering all the needs of growing a healthy, robust and resilient baby whilst looking after mums nutritional needs at the same time.
There is a difference between a thriving dose and a maintenance dose when it comes to the ingredients in supplements and doTerra's lifelong vitality was never designed to be a prenatal, rather it was designed to maintain good health. For those individuals in an already deficient state, it is unlikely that the amounts provided in the LLV are going to able to rectify deficiency let alone provide enough to sustain a growing baby AND mum.
I know this is contrary to the belief of others in the field but when you have a look at the dosages vs minimum daily needs during pregnancy, it's pretty obvious it falls short of meeting those needs when we look at recommendations provided in the Advanced Clinical Naturopathy Fertility and Pregnancy Chapters
Let's be clear - I am not saying don't use it as a prenatal, I'm saying don't RELY on it as a prenatal. Additional external supplementation will be needed or upping your game with ensuring a nutrient dense diet to fill in the gaps that LLV simply cannot provide as I will break down for you.
The simple fact is that today's RDI's are woefully inadequate particularly when it comes to pregnancy. Pregnant women require up to three times the RDI's for most core nutrients and minerals to ensure a thriving infant and avoid post natal depletion in the mother.
For myself, I only purchase the US Lifelong Vitality Pack for a couple of different reasons which I'll share with you. Ok let's get stuck into the break down......
Alpha CRS is designed to nourish our mitochondria, our energy powerhouses within each cell that are responsible for sustaining life and every system within our body. It is targeted towards combating oxidative stress, age related disease, protecting our DNA against damage, ensuring a healthy inflammatory response and supporting our organs of elimination in their daily duties.
The key difference between the Aussie version of Alpha CRS is that it contains significantly more Boswellic Acid at 200mg vs 20mg in the US formulation per serving size of 4 capsules per day.
Other than this, the formula is largely the same from either warehouse.
I'm not entirely comfortable with ingesting Boswellic Acid during first trimester of pregnancy as it is contraindicated for pregnancy. Where women have autoimmune disease present or difficulty with implantation because of immune system interference, I do wonder about the action of Boswellic Acid to further stimulate the immune system at a time when the immune system actually needs to be switched down to allow for implantation to occur and not have fetal cells rejected. Just something to keep in mind if you are aware that you have an immune related disorder. The naturopaths and functional practitioners who I have personally been working with for preconception have both advised strongly against it.
On saying that, there IS also evidence suggesting that the ingestion of boswellic acid may improve the success of healthy viable implantation as demonstrated in rat studies
. However, this was achieved through the MALE ingesting the boswellic acid, not the female. The success was achieved through improved spermatogenesis and testosterone levels.
Given that a therapeutic dose for Coenzyme Q10 starts at 100mg to have any noticeable effect, the positive effects this particular ingredient can afford a woman during preconception may largely go unnoticed. Higher follicular fluid levels of CoQ10 were found in mature oocytes and optimal healthy embryos compared to immature eggs and poor quality embryos. CoQ10 supplementation during IVF at 600mg a day resulted in increased successful pregnancy rates compared to placebo in one study, and supplementation of 180mg a day resulted in significantly improved ovarian response, lutenisation, endometrial tissue thickness, ovulation and pregnancy rate as another study found.
Gingko Biloba is another ingredient that varies in quantity between formulations. The Aussie version contains 24mg vs 40mg per 4 capsule serve and this is an ingredient that can serve women (as well as men) in preconception and during pregnancy very well. Gingko has a long history of use for improving blood circulation by opening up blood vessels and making blood less sticky and coagulated. This can be incredibly useful and helpful for women who experience impaired maternal fetal micro-circulation issues. This is why women will sometimes be prescribed baby asprin during pregnancy to prevent miscarriage as a result of sticky blood/ coagulation issues. In addition, Gingko has fabulous antioxidant properties that reduce reactive oxygen species and prevent damage to DNA and developing cell membranes. I would like to see this ingredient higher.
In general, the collection of ingredients in the Alpha CRS is very good in regards to their function and ability to support healthy inflammatory responses in the body, supporting mitochondrial function and therefore energy production. Alpha CRS would provide valuable assistance to healthy eggs and sperm I do believe given that safeguarding against oxidative stress and cellular damage is so so important in the 90 days leading up to conception. Maintaining low levels of reactive oxygen species during implantation and first trimester is also incredibly important.
It's really only the quantity and presence of Boswellic Acid that I have concern with in the Alpha CRS, the quantity of other traditionally known abortifacients such as Pomegranate fruit
extracts are unlikely to pose a threat at such low levels.
There's also another big problem with the Aussie version of the Alpha CRS.... it contains a very long list of extraneous fillers that simply is not present in the US formulation.
OTHER INGREDIENTS: Microcrystalline Cellulose, Calcium Hydrogen Phosphate Dihydrate, Magnesium Stearate, Soy Polysaccharide, Silica-colloidal Anhydrous, and Croscarmellose Sodium.
OTHER ENCAPSULATING AIDS:
Hypromellose, Purified Water, Carrageenan,
Potassium Acetate, glucose monohydrate
The other ingredients list for the US formulation of the Alpha CRS reads as-
OTHER INGREDIENTS: Vegetable hypromellose, vegetable
cellulose, calcium silicate, calcium stearate.
Why the difference?? Honestly, I've got no idea, it makes no sense to me at all as to why the Aussie formulation would require these additional ingredients however labeling laws may play a role in Australia with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Both the Aussie and US formulations use Cyanocobalamin (Vit. B12) which is the non-activated form of B12 vs methylcobalamin which is an active/methylated version of vitamin B12. If you have MTHFR gene mutations (50% of the population do), your body cannot convert synthetic vitamin B12 or folic acid into an active form that can penetrate cells and benefit the body.
The cyanocobalamin B12 in the Aussie version is synthesized and then metabolized by fermenting yeast during their active growth phase as part of the Glycoprotein Matrix technique doTerra use. This makes it more absorbable and bioavailable to the body however it is not methylated. B12 needs to be converted into its active form, methylcobalamin within the liver to be bioavailable and usable for the cells in your body. B12 is the most important nutrient required in order for our body to absorb folate.
Granted it is a tiny amount that is provided in the Aussie formula at just 10mcg but either way there is woefully inadequate amounts of B12 present in a less than ideal form. To provide perspective, Naturopathic recommendations for B12 during pregnancy are between 800-2000mcg per day during preconception and pregnancy. Adding in extra additional methylated B12 would be wise.
When it comes to Folate, the AU/NZ version uses 400mcg of Folinic Acid (not the same as Folic Acid) which is an activated form of folate that exists naturally and is biologically active which means it requires minimal conversion by the body to use. The US formula uses 400mcg of natural folate derived from lemon peel which also requires minimal conversion by the body to use. The best form of folate for those with MTHFR mutations is 5-MTHF or methylated folate. Your MTHFR mutations will determine whether you can tolerate the Lifelong Vitality Supplements. Severe undermethylators will likely do better on the US formula.
During pregnancy, women need to be aiming for at least 800mcg per day so either way, you need to be focused on gaining the extra folate needed through your diet or with an additional activated folate supplement. I cannot stress this enough. Remember that B12 and Folate work synergistically together and supplementation of one without the other or one in high doses the other in low dose can disrupt the delicate balance of these two vitamins.
Vitamin D3 content is also much less in the AU/NZ version at 200IU vs 800IU. That's a BIG difference. Vitamin D3 intake during preconception and pregnancy is recommended to aim for between 1000IU- 5000IU to produce blood serum levels of between 100-150 nmol/L which is the aim during pregnancy.
Vitamin C, Zinc, Calcium, and Magnesium are too low for pregnancy needs in both the US and Aussie formula. These are all critical nutrients and minerals that need to be provided in adequate amounts during pregnancy, and much more is needed than is present in the LLV to meet the needs of a growing baby whilst also sustaining mum. Insufficient Calcium and Magnesium during pregnancy is associated with high rates of dental caries in both mum and baby in the post partum period as well as poor bone density. Remember that we are providing the building blocks for baby's entire skeletal system and if we aren't consuming enough core minerals through food and supplementation, baby will take what it needs from our own bones.
Zinc is considered to be the single most important nutrient for pregnant women and deficiency can result in fetal growth retardation and congenital malformations, post natal depression, stretch marks, cracked nipples, prolonged labour and difficult to calm babies. Women with higher zinc levels achieved higher rates of successful pregnancies via IVF then those with low zinc levels.
Naturopathic recommendations in Australia for Vitamin C are 1000-5000mg per day, Zinc 40-80mg per day, Calcium 1000-2000mg per day and Magnesium 500-1000mg per day.
Then we come to Iodine
, another absolutely critical trace mineral for pregnancy. Minimum requirements during pregnancy are Iodine 250mcg, yet the US and Aussie formulas both provide a measly 25mcg per daily dose which is far from sufficient. Iodine deficiency is a limiting factor in fetal cognitive development, IQ, stillbirth and also thyroid function in baby. Please please please make sure you are meeting your daily iodine needs with additional supplementation!
If you have low iron/ferritin levels, the amount of iron in the LLV (6mg) will be insufficient to rectify a deficiency or support a woman's needs during the first trimester of pregnancy when the placenta is being created and blood volume is significantly increased. Seek out a good Beef Liver supplement for high quality heme iron that the body drinks up or a naturopathic iron bisglycinate based supplement such as Thorne's Ferrasorb.
A quick word on Vitamin A as this always comes up. Let me just say that up to 20,000IU is safe for non-synthetic forms of Vitamin A and up to 6mg of betacarotene during pregnancy according to Australian Naturopathic
recommendations. The US formula contains 7000IU of Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate & Betcarotene) which equates to 2100mcg. The Aussie formula contains 4036mcg per daily dose (Retinol Acetate & Betacarotene). Both forms of Vitamin A are considered to be pre-formed version of Vitamin A, meaning that the body does not have to convert them to become bio available unlike betacarotene. Both the Acetate and Palmitate are synthetically derived according to product support and have been specifically designed to be more absorbable.
Here's the thing, if you have the BCO1 Gene, your ability to convert carotenoids into Vitamin A is almost non existent. The conversion rate of Carotenoids to Retinol is only around 1.7% for most people and 45% of people cannot convert Carotenoids at all, I'm one of them! Both formulas have high levels of carotenoids, 80% of the Vitamin A provided in the LLV is from carotenoids and this could be problematic for you potentially leading to a deficient state. If you are Vegan, this is even more critical as all food sources of preformed Retinol Vitamin A are animal based. If you know that you have the BCO1 Gene, you will absolutely need to consider adding on the likes of Cod Liver Oil to support your preformed Vitamin A levels naturally via a wholefood source which is my preference.
Again, the Aussie version has a long list of additional excipient ingredients that are simply not needed and very disappointing to see included -
OTHER INGREDIENTS: Microcrystalline Cellulose, Calcium Hydrogen Phosphate Dihydrate, Magnesium Stearate, Crospovidone, Silicon Dioxide and Croscarmellose Sodium, Acacia, Butylated hydroxytoluene, Citric acid, Collodial anhydrous silica, Dextrin, dl-alpha tocopherol, Ethylcellulose, Gelatin, Glucose monohydrate, Maize starch, Maltodextrin, Medium-chain triglycerides, Pea starch, Pregelatinized maize starch, Sodium alginate, Sodium benzoate, Sucrose, Tartaric acid.
OTHER ENCAPSULATING AIDS:
Hypromellose, Purified Water and
The concentration levels of nearly all the ingredients in the Omega XeO are fairly comparable between both formulations.
Looking at some of the key components -
Vitamin E is insufficient for pregnancy at 60IU in both formulas. Pregnancy needs for Vitamin A start at 500-1000IU daily.
The Aussie Omega contains less total Omega 3's at 1040mg vs 1100mg in the US formula. During pregnancy, women need to be aiming for between 1-3 grams of omega 3 fatty acids each day with 600-800mg of that being DHA. Given that both formula's only contain around 300mg of DHA, additional supplementation would be suggested given its importance.
DHA is one of the most important ingredients to an optimised brain and cognitive function. Babies need it for healthy vision, healthy cognition, and a healthy immune system. Mum's need it to prevent postnatal depression. A developing baby accumulates DHA throughout the pregnancy, but especially during the last trimester. From week 35 to week 40, on average, a fetus gains 45% more weight and over the same period, DHA accumulates as much as 840%! From week 35 to week 40, DHA is estimated to accumulate: 450% in skeletal muscle, 570% in the brain, 680% in the liver, 840% in adipose tissue. What this means is that baby takes what it can get from mumma and unless she has enough, she will be left in a depleted state. The US formulation contains 300mg of DHA, as long as you are eating cold water fatty fish such as salmon at least 3 times a week, you should meet your target. Otherwise you need to consider additional supplementation to shore up your reserves.
AU/NZ OTHER INGREDIENTS: Sunflower oil
ENCAPSULATING AIDS: Hydroxypropyl
Starch, Glycerol, and Purified Water.
US FORMULA OTHER INGREDIENTS: Non-GMO Food Starch, Glycerin, Purified
Water, Maltitol, Carrageen (due to be phased out).
When you break down the individual ingredients, in my eyes the US version is simply better bang for buck with a better formulation with less filler ingredients that is better suited for folks with methylation issues as well as supporting women during preconception care and pregnancy.
As I've mentioned repeatedly and will do so one more time, if you wish to use either formula's as your prenatal, go for it! You just need to make sure your diet is absolutely up to scratch in order to fill in the gaps OR you need to be seeking out additional supplementation if the goal is to create a thriving and optimised baby and mumma instead of just 'healthy'.
I'm looking to positively influence genetic health outcomes for my baby instead of just hope for healthy. Smarter, stronger, more resilient with excellent health is the aim.
Recommended additional supplements during preconception and pregnancy as based upon Clinical Naturopathic Medicine by Leah Hectman
, include extra Methylated Folate or a B Complex that includes Folate and B12 such as Life Extension Bioactive Complete B
, extra DHA, additional iodine, additional vitamin c + bioflavonoids, additional calcium/ magnesium, additional Vitamin D3 and Choline (between 1000-2000mg daily) as there is NONE included in either formulas and this is absolutely key
for cognitive and nervous system development.
The Lifelong Vitality Supplements are not designed to rectify deficiencies or sustain two growing people with high energy needs, but rather provide existing support to an already wonderful nutrient dense diet. The problem during pregnancy is that in the first trimester, often good habits go out the door as nausea and food aversions take hold. At such a critical time of development when organs are being formed this is far from ideal but it is reality and another good reason to make sure your prenatal meets spec.
My other concern, specifically with the Aussie formulation is the sheer amount of filler ingredients used. Sodium Benzoate does not have a place during pregnancy just as one example. I would not be comfortable taking a supplement with these questionable and unnecessary fillers.
One final thing to note is that in the US, technical ingredients (filler or excipient ingredients) under a specific amount are not required to be put on the label, while in Australia they all have to be listed. Hence, there may be other technical ingredients in the US version that are not declared. I cannot confirm this, but want you to be aware of the difference in labeling laws between the two countries.
If you haven't really experienced a noticeable change or shift in your sense of wellbeing whilst taking the Aussie version, please do give the US version a really solid crack. Some folks like me just respond better to this formula.
The other reason I really love to purchase the US version of LLV is that I can take advantage of customizing my supplements and adding on the likes of Terrazyme, Mito2Max and the Deep Blue Polyphenol Complex at half price. Yes, the dollar conversion has an impact but I believe this is balanced out by the more powerful LLV formulation and the huge savings to be had on the other supplements in the lineup.
I hope this is useful information for you. I really want you to have the best experience possible with these supplements.
Any Questions pop them below in the comments and I'll be sure to answer them.