Are Prenatal Vitamins Worth The Price?

Pregnant women are often given strict guidelines on nutrition and wellbeing to follow to promote healthy child development. While taking vitamin supplements is considered the norm, a new study has questioned the necessity of these pills.

Pregnant women are often given strict guidelines on nutrition and wellbeing to follow to promote healthy child development. While taking vitamin supplements is considered the norm, a new study has questioned the necessity of these pills.

Research published in the British Medical Journal’s Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin showed that although some nutrients in the prenatal supplements are important, only folic acid and vitamin D have specific evidence supporting their benefits for well-balanced nutrition during pregnancy.

This was surprising, as incidences of vitamin deficiencies are common in expecting mothers.

The research highlighted that prenatal vitamins can be seen as trendy and marketed to anxious mothers-to-be in such a way as to suggest that all vitamins and minerals — a range of B vitamins, C, D, E, K, iodine, folic acid, magnesium, zinc, selenium, and copper – appear necessary for their diet.

And, these supplements can be quite costly.

To examine the evidence available for supporting the use of folic acid, iron, and vitamins A, C, D, and E, researchers conducted several studies and systemic reviews.

According to the results, the team didn’t identify clear evidence that all vitamins and nutrients other than folic acid and vitamin D actually helped prevent complications at birth.

Actually, using supplements with vitamin A wasn’t even recommended during pregnancy.

While the paper concluded folic acid to have the strongest evidence support, some doctors highlighted these findings weren’t representative of the needs of pregnant mothers in the US.

Members of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists don’t have specific guidance on taking prenatal vitamins, but did suggest evidence-based minimum intake of these nutrients:

  • 400 micrograms of folic acid
  • 27 milligrams of iron
  • 1,000 milligrams of calcium
  • 600 international units of vitamin D