About the study
A recent review from the United Kingdom (UK) suggests that women don’t need to take prenatal multivitamins prior to and during their pregnancy, but should instead focus their efforts on supplementing with folic acid and vitamin D. The review article was published in the July issue of Drug & Therapeutics Bulletin, a publication from the British Medical Journal.
In this review, researchers summarized the guidance currently in place for vitamin supplementation during pregnancy in the UK, and then set out to review the scientific evidence supporting those recommendations. They looked specifically at research on the following nutrients: folic acid, vitamin D, iron, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A and multivitamins.
What did the study find?
After reviewing research studies on supplementation with these key nutrients during pregnancy, the researchers concluded that only folic acid and vitamin D supplementation are necessary during pregnancy. They suggested that women who are well-nourished may not receive any additional benefits from supplementing with the other nutrients, including a prenatal multivitamin.
What does this mean to me?
We are concerned about the conclusion of this study, which advises women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy that they do not need to supplement with the essential nutrients found in a prenatal multivitamin. For starters, the review looked at literature available only for a select group of six nutrients, in addition to multivitamins. There are many other important nutrients commonly found in prenatal multivitamins that have evidence to support their role in normal fetal development and the health of the carrying mother, such as calcium, iodine and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
The study authors also suggest that instead of prenatal multivitamins, we encourage women to follow a healthy diet and continue to take folic acid supplements. However, the reality is that many women experience morning sickness and often develop food aversions during pregnancy, making it especially challenging to consume a perfectly balanced diet during this particular stage of life. Taking a prenatal multivitamin not only provides essential nutrients needed for normal fetal growth and development, but also helps to close any gaps in nutrient intake to prevent vitamin or mineral deficiencies in pregnant women. We cannot make the simple assumption that all pregnant women are well-nourished, and that they cannot stand to benefit from a prenatal multivitamin.
For women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, it’s important to speak to your healthcare practitioner to determine if a prenatal multivitamin is right for you, and to always follow the directions on the product label.