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Pregnancy multivitamins is an “unnecessary cost” for most mothers-to-be, researchers in a new review study concludes.

These products are often marketed as a way to give the unborn child the best start in life, and pregnant women are described as an easy marketing target.

Eating for Two?

“For most women who are planning to become pregnant or who are pregnant, complex multivitamin and mineral preparations promoted for use during pregnancy are unlikely to be needed and are an unnecessary expense,” the study authors concludes.

The authors note that vitamin and mineral deficiency is indeed a real problem, “Maternal deficiency in key nutrients has been linked to pre-eclampsia, restricted fetal growth, neural tube defects, skeletal deformity and low birth weight.”

But also note that “The marketing of such products does not appear to be supported by evidence of improvement in the child or maternal outcomes. Pregnant women may be vulnerable to messages about giving their baby the best start in life, regardless of cost,” the review adds.

The researchers, however, conclude that folic acid and vitamin D do have benefits, but there is no evidence that tablets with a lot of other vitamins are positive. On the contrary, some of the pills can do more harm than good. As high doses of some vitamins may harm the fetus.

Most multivitamin supplements contain more than 20 vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, K, folic acid, iodine, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, and selenium.

Vitamin D and B9

The authors write that there is no reason to recommend pregnant women to take any other additional vitamin than folic acid and vitamin D, which are both relatively inexpensive.

“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 authors of this study claim that vitamin and mineral supplements must produce clinical effects before pregnant women are encouraged to take them. This is absolute nonsense. Except for folic acid, which does have a therapeutic role by actively preventing neural tube disorders, the role of food supplements is simply to combat dietary gaps.”

“For most women who are or plan to become pregnant, it is unlikely that complex multivitamin and mineral mixtures marketed for pregnant women is needed and is an unnecessary expense,” the researchers concludes.

The review study Vitamin supplementation in pregnancy has been published in the journal Drug and Therapeutics, which contains recommendations for UK doctors and pharmacists about treatments.

It lends support to what many other studies have also found, that given a varied healthy diet to stave of any deficiency, multivitamin tablets aren’t worth the money spent.

Vitamin supplementation in pregnancy