Are Prenatal Multivitamins a Waste of Money?

According to a new British study, you might not need to shell out for those pricey supplements.

Pregnant Woman Taking Vitamin Studio Concept/Shutterstock

It's something that's drilled into the minds of pregnant women and those trying to conceive: You should take a prenatal vitamin every day. 

But, according to British researchers, these supplements might not have much effect on pregnant women and their babies.

"We found no evidence to recommend that all pregnant women should take prenatal multinutrient supplements beyond the nationally [in Britain] advised folic acid and vitamin D supplements, generic versions of which can be purchased relatively inexpensively," the authors wrote in the report, published in the journal Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, according to LiveScience

The researchers concluded that if a woman is eating a well-balanced diet, she simply doesn't need to supplement beyond folic acid and vitamin D. (Folic acid is especially important thanks to its ability to protect against defects of the brain and spinal cord in a growing baby, and vitamin D plays an essential role in strengthening the bones of both mother and child.) 

It's important to emphasize, though, that this new British research is only preliminary and the consensus here in the States is as follows: According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "Prenatal vitamin supplements contain the recommended amounts of the vitamins and minerals you will need during your pregnancy, such as vitamins A, C, and D; folic acid; and minerals such as iron. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily for at least 1 month before pregnancy and during pregnancy helps prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine called neural tube defects. Most prenatal and 'women’s formula' multivitamin supplements contain 400–800 micrograms of folic acid."

Does all this have you feeling confused about whether you should invest in multivitamins or not? We'd suggest having a chat with your doctor, being open about how balanced your diet is, and then determining together what kind of supplements you need.