New research has revealed multivitamins aimed at pregnant women could be a waste of money [Photo: freestocks.org via Pexels]
When you find out you’re pregnant, it’s likely your must-do list will include a trip to Boots to stock up on mum-to-be multi-vits. Forget forking out on fancy beauty products, the health of you and your bubba just took the priority top spot.
But it turns out you might be wasting your time and money because according to new research multivitamin and mineral supplements for pregnant women actually do little to improve the health of them or their babies.
Research published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin found that the “heavily marketed” products for expectant mums, which can cost up to £20 a month, are an “unnecessary expense” because there is no evidence to suggest they improve health for mother or baby.
Instead mums-to-be are being encouraged to follow NHS recommendations by taking 5mg of folic acid per day for the first trimester (12 weeks) of pregnancy and vitamin D, both of which can be bought at a fraction of the cost.
Many mums-to-be women take pregnancy multivitamins no matter the cost [Photo: Rex Features]
The research saw experts assess the evidence on the benefits of folic acid, vitamin D, iron, vitamins C, E and A, as well as multivitamins during pregnancy. Though there was substantial evidence to suggest the taking of folic acid could reduce the risk of conditions such as spina bifida, and some “less clearcut” evidence to indicate vitamin D was beneficial, there was “no evidence” in support of multivitamins.
Such products often contain more than 20 vitamins and minerals, and often come with slogans to say they provide “all the essential nutrients for pregnancy”.
But the report authors explained that much of the evidence on which marketing claims for multivitamin supplements are based, comes from studies carried out in low-income countries, where women are more likely to be undernourished or malnourished than women in the UK.
“Pregnant women may be vulnerable to messages about giving their baby the best start in life, regardless of cost, and be unaware that the only supplements recommended for all women during pregnancy are folic acid and vitamin D, which are available at relatively low cost,” report authors explained.
“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 report concluded.
New research has cast doubt on the benefits of pregnancy supplements [Photo: Rex Features]
But some experts, including the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association, which represents the food supplements industry, have described some of the findings as “misleading”, as evidence suggests many women of child-bearing age in the UK consume insufficient amounts of micronutrients such as iodine, iron and calcium.
“Ideally, we would all get sufficient nutrients from a healthy diet, but for a large proportion of the population, and for certain at-risk groups such as pregnant women, this is simply not the case,” a spokesperson for the HFMA explained.
"For these groups, the belief they can obtain all the nutrients necessary from the average UK diet poses a very real risk to the health of both mothers and their unborn children.”
What do you think of the new research? Let us know @YahooStyleUK