Prenatal Multivitamins: Are They A Waste Of Money? Study Says Yes

Prenatal Multivitamins: Are They A Waste Of Money? Study Says Yes

It’s widely accepted that prenatal multivitamins are essential during pregnancy.

After a pregnancy test, many newly pregnant women rush out to buy them, as a priority.

Experts advise all pregnant women (and those trying to conceive) to take folic acid supplements. Taking folic acid during early pregnancy reduces the risk of a baby developing a neural tube defect.

However, there is something you might want to know about folic acid before you take it.

Many women now choose to use prenatal vitamin supplements that include folic acid, as a way of making sure they are getting all the necessary vitamins throughout pregnancy.

Prenatal vitamins aren’t cheap, but many women view them as being a necessary expense during pregnancy.

A recent study, however, concluded that prenatal vitamins might be unnecessary for many women.

The study published in Drug and Therapeutic Bulletin found that mixed vitamin supplements were an unnecessary expense during pregnancy, and that women should focus instead on improving their diet and supplementing it only with necessary vitamins.

The researchers found that the use of multivitamins did not improve the health of mother or baby.

They concluded that pregnant women should be advised to supplement with folic acid and vitamin D, both of which are vital for good prenatal health. It is generally cheaper to purchase these supplements individually, rather than take them as part of a multivitamin.

Multivitamin preparations often contain over 20 different vitamins, and many of those included are simply unnecessary. Folic acid and vitamin D are both considered to be essential to good health during pregnancy and women are advised to take them daily.

It can be difficult for women to achieve the recommended daily intake of both these vitamins, through eating alone, which is why supplementation is advised. Many of the other vitamins included in prenatal multivitamins, however, can be found in a regular diet, so there is no need for supplementation.

A researcher explained, “We found no evidence to recommend that all pregnant women should take prenatal multi-nutrient supplements beyond the nationally advised folic acid and vitamin D supplements, generic versions of which can be purchased relatively inexpensively”.

The researchers felt that pregnant women, keen to give their baby the very best start in life, might be encouraged to spend money on expensive and unnecessary prenatal vitamins. This money would be better spent on a healthy, balanced diet – rich in fresh greens, vegetables, and fruits.

Quality Is Key, Says Reproductive Specialist And Nutritionist

Reproductive specialist and nutritionist, Doctor Andrew Orr says,”Vitamin A and iron are crucial too. Yet vitamin A is often discouraged because it has a caution in pregnancy of over 10,000 IU’s. But it doesn’t mean not to take it – we need vitamin A for immunity for the baby, development of teeth, bones, the brain and the respiratory system. Many women begin pregnancy with low iron too, which is a problem. Iron is needed for many reasons, including immunity, bone health, nourishing the muscles, hormone transport, energy and so much more.”

He continues, “There are many important vitamins pregnant women need, including B group vitamins, zinc, antioxidants and other minerals such as calcium and magnesium. The issue is that many women are taking inferior, over the counter products, which have very little strength in them, which may not give them the results they expect. A practitioner-only multivitamin is often 50-100 times more potent than over the counter products.”

Doctor Orr agrees that diet is very important, but due to overfarming and products sitting in supermarket shelves for weeks, foods are lacking nutrients, therefore a good multivitamin (a practitioner-only brand) is the best, most cost effective way to do it. While a quality multivitamin wont cover absolutely everything, it’s a very good start.

If you’ve never really paid much attention to your diet, pregnancy is a great time to start. Not only will it give you and your developing baby a positive health boost, it will increase your dietary know-how, so you’ll be ready when your baby starts to eat solid foods. Good eating habits during pregnancy can help prevent gestational diabetes and can benefit your children’s children. Find out more in our article about how eating habits during pregnancy can affect three generations.

Recommended Reading: Stuck for inspiration? Check out BellyBelly’s Five Healthy Pregnancy Snacks.


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Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.

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