Food and Behaviour Research

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Evidence based recommendations for an optimal prenatal supplement for women in the US: vitamins and related nutrients

Adams J, Kirby J, Sorensen J, Pollard E, Audhya T (2022) Maternal Health, Neonatology and Perinatology DOI: 10.1186/s40748-022-00139-9  

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The blood levels of most vitamins decrease during pregnancy if un-supplemented, including vitamins A, C, D, K, B1, B3, B5, B6, folate, biotin, and B12. Sub-optimal intake of vitamins from preconception through pregnancy increases the risk of many pregnancy complications and infant health problems.

In the U.S., dietary intake of vitamins is often below recommended intakes, especially for vitamin D, choline and DHA. Many studies suggest that insufficient vitamin intake is associated with a wide range of pregnancy complications (anemia, Cesarean section, depression, gestational diabetes, hypertension, infertility, preeclampsia, and premature rupture of membranes) and infant health problems (asthma/wheeze, autism, low birth weight, congenital heart defects, intellectual development, intrauterine growth restriction, miscarriage, neural tube defects, orofacial defects, and preterm birth).

The primary goal of this paper is to review the research literature and propose evidence-based recommendations for the optimal level of prenatal supplementation for each vitamin for most women in the United States. A secondary goal was to compare these new recommendations with the levels of vitamins in over 180 commercial prenatal supplements.

The analysis found that prenatal supplements vary widely in content, often contained only a subset of essential vitamins, and the levels were often below our recommendations. This suggests that increasing prenatal vitamin supplementation to the levels recommended here may reduce the incidence of many pregnancy complications and infant health problems which currently occur.