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AIBU to not understand why pregnancy supplements are necessary?

(71 Posts)
Butterworthbees Mon 30-May-16 08:15:26

I have never in my life taken supplements for anything and the concept is a bit odd (surely you can get everything you need from food if you eat healthily?) but ttc now and people are telling me I need to take supplements (especially folic acid). Maybe I'm being a tad cynical but doesn't it just give you expensive wee if you are eating a healthy diet! (Obviously supplements are important if you are actually deficient)

I know folate/folic acid is important for prevent NTD but can't you genuinely get enough from food?

Marsquared Mon 30-May-16 08:18:57

You can get folate from food and in fact it's better in its natural from tan from a synthetic supplement. I wish I had done it by eating folate rich foods instead of taking the supplements as it turns out I can't process the synthetic stuff and it has caused issues for my baby. Not that anyone even mentioned that could happen 😡 I think the problem is lots of people don't eat enough of certain foods so a supplement is a sure fire way to get it in them.

araiba Mon 30-May-16 08:20:13

well it depends on what food you eat....

some people dont eat lots of folic rich food so they take supplements

same as why bodybuilders take protein supplements- they dont get enough from their diet

duckyneedsaclean Mon 30-May-16 08:22:12

Plus, once morning sickness kicks in, that broccoli may not look so appetising.

AnUtterIdiot Mon 30-May-16 08:22:19

Well, my doctor said that the data for folic acid comes from when people didn't eat as well as they do now. But when I started TTC I looked up how much folate was in easily accessible foods (you find it in fortified foods like cereal as well as green leafy veg) and it would be pretty hard to be sure you were eating enough daily for the normal pregnancy dose, let alone the 5mg that some people are advised to take.

I'm not one for supplements normally either but I don't think it's worth the hassle of food planning, let alone the risk of NTDs etc not to take them.

Kenduskeag Mon 30-May-16 08:23:04

If your diet is healthy, sure, just take folic acid. Additional iron can help too.

Many people don't have a healthy diet; the recommendation is more for them.

AnUtterIdiot Mon 30-May-16 08:23:10

The morning sickness point is a good one too!

megletthesecond Mon 30-May-16 08:25:55

I eat well but took supplements from my teens when I went vegetarian and just swopped to pregnancy multi vits when I had the dc's. I don't trust my diet to be 100% perfect all the time and I'm a worrier.

GiraffesAndButterflies Mon 30-May-16 08:26:35

IMO it's worth it for:
Folic acid (important to baby plus morning sickness time)
Vit D (hard to get from sunlight without burning, assuming you work indoors)
Iron (if like me you have heavy periods).

Given that there's no single supplement which covers just those three, I now give up and just take a multivitamin. I used to agree with you OP but then decided I was overthinking it and should just take the pills.

Interested to hear others' better-researched views though...

MyBreadIsEggy Mon 30-May-16 08:26:49

Morning sickness is an excellent point.
When I was pg with DD, all I could stomach for about 3 weeks when the sickness was at its worst, was iced tap water, white toast and ready salted crisps.
Same in this pregnancy, except this time it was crumpets and Tropicana hmm Definitely not getting enough of the good stuff from that diet confused

WhatKatyDidnt Mon 30-May-16 08:28:31

Folic acid and vit D - important
The rest just a waste of money.

AnUtterIdiot Mon 30-May-16 08:28:40

I ate butterscotch Angel Delight and microwave mash. shudder Angel Delight is blood lovely

curren Mon 30-May-16 08:29:23

I don't take supplements as a rule. I try to get everything from a healthy diet.

However I did when I was pregnant as for the first 13 weeks I didn't keep much food down. I had a cream cracker before bed, took the tablet and went to sleep. I was exhausted from all the throwing up so managed to sleep enough that it stayed down.

Sofabitch Mon 30-May-16 08:35:02

Because it's the most effective way to reduce the risk of spinabifida.

Of course you can make sure you are eating enough folate rich food.

But only if it's raw/very lightly cooked as folate is easily destroyed by cooking.

Nanny0gg Mon 30-May-16 08:40:25

If you take supplements you know for a fact that you are getting the recommended amount.

Unless you are a nutritionist/dietician can you be quite so sure the foods you eat are enough?

Skiptonlass Mon 30-May-16 08:42:34

Folic acid is very, very important... It's difficult to get sufficient for early pregnancy from food and deficit can cause the neural tube of the foetus to remain open. If the foetus survives it will be born with some degree of spina bifida
Iron is important for some women - too much isn't good though so supplement only if needed.
Vitamin d is important too and a huge number of people in northern latitudes are deficient.

IF you are otherwise healthy and IF you have a varied and healthy diet then you don't need other supplements. But you absolutely should take folic acid.

There are significant variations in how people process folic acid to folate - mainly genetic. Ditto vitamin D.

BeBopTalulah Mon 30-May-16 08:44:40

You don't have to do anything, it's a guideline. But as a rule we don't eat the way we should, and there is vast evidence for that. There is nothing wrong with supplements, and given what is at stake, it wouldn't matter how much broccoli I ate, I'd take the pill.

Pollyputhtekettleon Mon 30-May-16 08:45:11

I'm pretty anti supplement but did take folic acid. In general I think that even with a healthy diet the food industry has destroyed the nutritional content of many of our fruit and veggies so we now need more than before to get the same amount of nutrition. The other side of that is that we have access to a broader and better diet than before. Best thing however is to grow your own and stick with heritage plants that haven't been bred for intensive farming like most of our supermarket carrots and stuff! Then I would say as long as you are eating a broad and healthy diet you shouldn't need any supplements. I'm not sure if many people know that about modern veg, my eyes were opened by a friend who works in Kew Gardens where they do a lot of research in that area. Fascinating but basically fast growning modern veg doesn't have time to build up nutrients like old varieties so are actually like a watered down version nutritionally. There are some exceptions where the veg either can't be or hasn't been, due to low demand, bred for mass production. Herbs for example. Certain veg, can't remember which. Really interesting stuff.

Buckinbronco Mon 30-May-16 08:50:21

It's very unlikely you will be eating enough vitamins for a growing pregnancy.

Also in the early days often your diet can be limited because you feel rubbish

HamaTime Mon 30-May-16 08:53:07

I had a pretty healthy diet before I got pg. The first trimester of my first pregnancy I ate prawn cocktail crisps (which I normally hate) and butterscotch angels delight <waves at AnUtterIdiot> and vomited so much I lost almost a stone in around 8 weeks.

Even without vomiting and weird food aversions it can be hard to get enough folate. Plus lots of pg women are knackered and are working plus have toddlers or small children to look after so are more likely to collapse on the sofa with a jammy dodger than make a delicious salad.

Nanunanu Mon 30-May-16 08:54:05

You don't need to take anything you don't want to. Guidelines are just that.

But folic acid supplementation has been shown to reduce neural tube defects (spina bifida and some rare brain development concerns)


And it is very hard to eat enough folate rich foods before / in early stages.

Vit d this time of year as long as you are slender and spend plenty of time every day outdoors and you are white? Less of an issue perhaps.

Iron usually becomes more important in later pregnancy. But if there is any anaemia now it will only worsen through pregnancy as the baby takes what it needs. Then delivery of a baby can be a bloody process and you want as much iron stores as you can do that you can replace the lost blood as quickly as possible when you are looking after a new born.

Evidence for other vitamins and minerals supplementation is not there.

As ever it is your choice. But think carefully.

Butterworthbees Mon 30-May-16 08:56:24

Ok so what I'm getting from this is that it's not just expensive wee and worth it in this case! I didn't really think about morning sickness I guess it would be hard to eat normally then!

Would you take prior to getting pregnant, and which one? There are obviously certain expensive brands but are they the same as the cheap own brands? Would you take just D and folic acid or a standard ownbrand multivitamin?

frikadela01 Mon 30-May-16 08:57:08

I have never taken a multivitamin in my life for the same reason you state op...I didn't want to pay for expensive wee.

I started folic acid when ttc at my mum's insistence bit that was it until I was about 5 weeks pregnant. I then started feeling very sick, my diet took a spectacular nose dive and I felt like I'd been hit by a bus everyday. Doctor recommended a pregnancy multivitamin because I was slightly iron deficient and it does seem to have helped. I won't be carrying on once my current lot have run out though.

scaevola Mon 30-May-16 08:57:35

You don't have to take anything.

It's a population-level guideline.

If you are sure you are eating (and not chucking up) the correct levels from your diet, then of course you don't need them. But it is the only known protective measure against spina bifida. Your call.

And I wouldn't diss the diets of people in the past. Much of this data covers the wartime generation whose diets were way, way better than those after rationing.

frikadela01 Mon 30-May-16 08:59:27

Midwife may be give you healthy start vitamins that contain folic acid and vit d.i take boots own brand as try were on 3 for 2 at the time. The vitamin levels in them are the same as pregnacare.

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