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Mums-to-be 'are wasting their cash' on multivitamins

By Jane Kirby

Pregnancy multivitamins are a waste of money, researchers have concluded.

A review found no evidence they resulted in better health for a mother or her baby and suggested they were an "unnecessary expense".

Instead, experts said women should focus on taking the single vitamins - available for a few pence per day - recommended by the NHS. These include folic acid in the first three months of pregnancy, and vitamin D. They should also follow a healthy diet.

Pregnancy multivitamins can cost more than £15 a month.

In the new research, published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, a large panel of experts in the field reviewed available evidence on folic acid, vitamin D, iron, vitamins C, E, A, and multivitamins in pregnancy.

They found good evidence for the use of folic acid to reduce the risk of infants being born with neural tube defects such as spina bifida, and some evidence - although "less clear cut" - for the use of vitamin D, which is important for bone and tooth formation and the ability to absorb calcium. But the experts found "no evidence" that women should take multivitamins, which often contain 20 or more vitamins and minerals.

The authors said that women were subjected to "heavy marketing" of multivitamins in pregnancy, but "much of the evidence for vitamin supplementation in pregnancy comes from studies carried out in low-income countries, where women are more likely to be undernourished or malnourished than within the UK population".

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