Most women do not require multivitamins during their pregnancy, meaning that they are often an expensive waste, an evidence review published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin has found.
The review found no evidence of any clinical benefit of multivitamins for most women who are well nourished. Additionally, high doses of vitamin A may harm a developing fetus.
‘This is an interesting study and adds to a growing body of evidence that the benefits of eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet during pregnancy cannot be underestimated in improving outcomes for both mother and baby,’ said Janet Fyle, a professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwifery. She said that the RCM would encourage women who are pregnant or are thinking of becoming pregnant to have a healthy, varied diet including fresh fruit and vegetables, alongside taking folic acid supplements and to not think that they have to 'eat for two'.
However, the research still recommends that women take folic acid supplements during pregnancy as they are still low cost. The suggested dose is 400ug of folic acid daily from before, until 12 weeks of, pregnancy. The research also recommends women take vitamin D supplements as there were 'clear benefits for them'.
‘Many pregnancies in the UK are unplanned and the benefits or effects of taking folic acid are linked to taking supplementation at the right time,’ added Ms Fyle. ‘There remains the issue of the large group of childbearing women who do not have access to supplements, particularly vulnerable groups of pregnant women, younger women, ethnic minorities and some women from low socio-economic groups. We need a rethink of policy priorities to ensure that all childbearing women can access folic acid supplementation at the right time.’