Could prenatal supplements one day be a thing of the past?
According to a new study released by the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB), the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) only recommends women take 400μg of folic acid each day from pregnancy until the end of the first trimester, and 10μg of vitamin D daily throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding. No other supplements were recommended for routine use.
“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,” the British researchers said in a release.
The study authors said that women were better off getting other important vitamins and minerals from a well-balanced diet.
Dr. Maja Middleton, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., agrees with the study’s emphasis on the importance of folic acid supplements.
“Folic acid is extremely important during pregnancy because it has been shown to help decrease the risk of neural tube defects,” says Dr. Middleton.
However, even given the NICE recommendations, she still encourages women to take a comprehensive prenatal vitamin.
“Prenatal vitamins are recommended to supplement vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in the average diet,” says Dr. Middleton.
As a result, if women only take folic acid and vitamin D supplements, they are still at risk of not getting all the necessary vitamins and nutrients.
According to the DTB, maternal deficiency in key nutrients has been linked to:
- Restricted fetal growth
- Neural tube defects
- Skeletal deformity
- Low birth weight
Because of the seriousness of these concerns, Dr. Middleton still recommends sticking with prenatal vitamins to ensure a healthy baby.
“Medicine is always changing and evolving and if future studies support the findings in this new study, then we might change recommendations in the future,” she says. “But currently, we will continue to recommend use of prenatal vitamins with folic acid and DHA, starting prior to conception.”