Too much sodium, not enough vitamins and minerals in diets of pregnant women

Regan BaileyRegan Bailey. (Purdue University photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A new study suggests that many pregnant women are not getting the proper amounts of some vitamins and minerals, even with supplements, while many are getting potentially excessive amounts of sodium.

The new study appears in the recent editon of JAMA Network Open.

Regan Bailey, an associate professor in nutrition science in Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences, led the research team.

The study looks at the dietary intake data of 1,003 pregnant women in the U.S., and researchers discovered that many of the participants consumed too little of vitamins A, C, D, E, K and B6, as well as folate, choline and minerals iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Almost all of the participants consumed too much sodium, and in some instances, consumed too much folic acid and iron.

“Without dietary supplements, 80 to 95% of pregnant women would fail to achieve iron recommendations,” Bailey said.

Traditionally during pregnancy, women will take additional nutritional supplements, including prenatal vitamins. In the study, almost 70% of pregnant women took a dietary supplement, primarily prenatal vitamins.

 “It appears that supplements may be necessary for most pregnant women to meet nutrient recommendations,” Bailey said. “However, our findings suggest that responsible formulations of prenatal products could help women achieve recommended intakes without the potential for excess.”

Bailey says balance, moderation and variety are ways to encourage a healthy diet for all. She also encourages pregnant women to talk to their health care provider or a registered dietitian regarding dietary questions or concerns.

Funding for this research was provided by Nestle Nutrition.

Bailey’s health research aligns with Purdue’s Giant Leaps celebration, acknowledging the university’s global advancements made in health, longevity and quality of life as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary. This is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.  

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