Supplanting supplements


We all know that during pregnancy, a mom to be should take care to change her diet in a way that benefits both her and the baby to be. Research by the Chair of Nutritional medicine at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) reveals knowledge gaps which could be risky.

According to the study, pregnant women often start taking supplements too late or not at all. Other nutrients may be taken more than is necessary.

Usually a thoughtful and balanced diet will give a pregnant woman everything she needs. That’s not the case with folic acid, iodine and iron. Almost all moms are advised to take folic acid and iron supplements from the minute they discover they are pregnant, if not before.

“In spite of existing recommendations, many pregnant women and their doctors are not well-informed about the sensible use of supplements,” said Professor Hans Hauner, expert on nutritional medicine at TUM.

Ninety-seven percent of the women polled had taken at least one type of supplement during pregnancy while two thirds started before becoming pregnant. The doses however, were all over the place and more often than not in incorrect amounts.

Folic acid gives its greatest benefit when taken prior to becoming pregnant by preventing neural tube defects. About 85% of those polled said they started folic acid after becoming pregnant. Only a third supplemented prior to pregnancy. So folic acid was generally too late and too low a dosage.

The opposite was found for iron required to oxygenate the fetus. Iron dosages were in some cases dangerously high. Many women also unnecessarily increased their dosages of magnesium and Omega-3 fatty acids. “In light of the lack of research on the side effects of overdosed supplements, the motto for certain dietary supplements during pregnancy should be: less is more,” concluded Hauner.

Source: TUM, ScienceDaily


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