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Pregnancy supplements unnecessary?

Encouraging mums-to-be to take vitamins is not needed, says nutrition expert

Posted: 7 July 2010
by Kimberley Smith
Are supplements a cynical money-making scheme?

The recommendations for mums-to-be to take vitamin supplements during their pregnancy are unnecessary, claims nutrition expert Professor Maria Makrides. She claims the pressure on mums is due more to money-making plans from the supplement industry than for the good of the baby.

“A lot of the messaging is increasingly coming from the industry,” said Professor Maria, an expert in Human Nutrition at the University of Adelaide. Basing her statements on her research into the effect of iron supplements in pregnancy, she claims that the information is just not there to recommend taking the extra nutrients.

“When studies have been done where women take (iron) supplements it does not change the outcome of their pregnancy, or the development of the child, and it may even be related to an increase in behavioural problems,” Professor Maria said.

According to the nutrition professor, eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, along with protein, is better than taking vitamin pills.

However she admitted the one exception to the rule is folic acid as studies have shown that the supplement really does lower the risk of spinal defects. “It’s a really important one and important to start even before the woman is pregnant,” Professor Maria confirmed.

More info is available on diet and supplements during pregnancy but if you’re concerned you are not getting all the nutrients you need, chat to your midwife or GP.

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