CRN: 'One product should not be expected to provide 100% of each person’s precise nutritional needs'

© Prostock-Studio / Getty Images
© Prostock-Studio / Getty Images

Related tags prenatal supplements Folic acid Pregnancy omega-3 Vitamin d Council for Responsible Nutrition

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) has responded to a recent study which found only one dietary supplement meeting the nutritional recommendations for pregnancy for six key nutrients.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition​ (AJCN), assessed current US dietary supplements to bridge the gap between dietary intake and estimated requirement​ for six key prenatal nutrients determined by their strongest evidence for a potential benefit for maternal-child health outcomes:  Vitamin A, vitamin D, folate/folic acid, calcium, iron, and ω-3 FAs.  

Researchers defined target dietary intake of the six key nutrients with the estimated average requirement (EAR) and tolerable upper limit (UL) for pregnant women specified by the DRIs.  They found that nearly all pregnant participants were at risk of inadequate dietary intake of at least one key nutrient from food alone.  To satisfy the dietary inadequacies, researchers calculated the target doses of supplementation needed to shift 90% of the participants’ daily nutrient intake above the estimated average requirement but below the tolerable upper limit for each of the six key nutrients.  Of over 20,000 current US dietary supplement products analyzed, only one contained target doses of all six key nutrients.  From this, Sauder et al. concluded that at present, “The US dietary supplement market is not meeting nutrient needs of pregnant females.”

CRN: "The dietary supplement industry strives to provide products that best serve most people during pregnancy.” 

Andrea Wong, Ph.D., CRN's senior vice president, scientific and regulatory affairs, stated that although “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.”  Wong goes on to explain that “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.”

Wong is not surprised by the results of the study.  She believes that “Getting sufficient levels of all the necessary nutrients to support a healthy pregnancy means eating right, as well as using a using prenatal multivitamin and other dietary supplements when needed.”  Wong understands that, “Including every key nutrient in a single product at levels to meet the needs of nearly every woman during pregnancy is, of course, challenging.”  However, she does believe that, “The dietary supplement industry strives to provide products that best serve most people during pregnancy.” 

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