Most pregnant women in the United States (US) are at risk of inadequate intake of key nutrients during pregnancy from foods alone. Current dietary supplement practices reduce risk of inadequacy for only some nutrients and induce excessive intake of other nutrients.
Our study aimed to estimate the doses of supplementation needed to help most pregnant women achieve the recommended intake without exceeding upper limits for key prenatal nutrients and to identify US dietary supplements providing these doses.
We conducted 24-h dietary recalls in 2450 pregnant participants aged 14-50 y from 2007 to 2019. We estimated the usual intake of vitamins A and D, folate, calcium, iron, and ω-3 FAs from foods alone. We calculated the target doses of supplementation needed to shift 90% of participants to consume above the estimated average requirement and keep 90% below the tolerable upper limit. We identified products in the Dietary Supplement Label Database providing these target doses of supplementation.
The target dose for supplementation was ≥198 mcg retinol activity equivalents of total vitamin A (with ≤2063 mcg preformed retinol); 7-91 mcg vitamin D; 169-720 mcg dietary folate equivalents of folic acid; 383-943 mg calcium; 13-22 mg iron; and ≥59 mg ω-3 FAs. Out of 20,547 dietary supplements (including 421 prenatal products), 69 products (33 prenatal) contained all 6 nutrients; 7 products (2 prenatal) contained target doses for 5 nutrients. Only 1 product (not a prenatal) contained target doses for all 6 nutrients, but it currently costs ∼USD200/mo and requires 7 tablets per daily serving.
Almost no US dietary supplements provide key nutrients in the doses needed for pregnant women. Affordable and convenient products that fill the gap between food-based intake and estimated requirements of pregnancy without inducing excess intake are needed to support pregnant women and their offspring. Am J Clin Nutr 20XX;xx:xx-xx.