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Supplements Play an Important Role in Prenatal Nutrition, CRN Says

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The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) responded to a recent study published in the American Journal for Clinical Pregnant womanNutrition (AJCN) that looked at the levels of certain nutrients in some dietary supplements often taken or marketed to pregnant women.

The researchers examined the diets of pregnant study participants in the United States and determined many were at risk of inadequate intake for six identified nutrients. A subsequent analysis of nutrient levels in a range of supplement products showed most of the supplements did not provide the target levels identified by the researchers of the six nutrients that the pregnant women did not get from food alone. CRN emphasizes that supplements should be an important part of a pregnant women’s whole nutritional program, which should also include nutrients from healthy foods. They are not a replacement for a healthy diet that should provide these nutrients as well.

Andrea Wong, PhD, CRN’s senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, explained further. “We appreciate the study authors’ efforts to add to the body of research on nutrient needs and supplementation during pregnancy. This latest research reinforces what skilled dietitians and nutritionists have been saying for years—dietary supplements, even prenatal supplements—are simply ‘supplements’ to a healthy diet, not substitutes,” said Wong. “While these critical products absolutely do fill some nutritional gaps, they are not intended to replace healthy eating, and certainly not during the critical time of pregnancy.

“The results of the study are not surprising—getting sufficient levels of all the necessary nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy means eating right, as well as using a prenatal multivitamin and other dietary supplements when needed,” added Wong. “Including every key nutrient in a single product at levels to meet the needs of nearly every woman during pregnancy is, of course, challenging. These products absolutely increase the daily intake of these nutrients, but even as food patterns vary across the population, one product should not be expected to provide exactly 100 percent of each person’s precise nutritional needs. However, the dietary supplement industry strives to provide products that best serve most people during pregnancy.”

For more information, visit www.crnusa.org.

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