Dietary vitamin, mineral and herbal supplement use: a cross-sectional survey of before and during pregnancy use in Sydney, Australia.

22 March 2017

AIM: To describe use of dietary vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements before and during pregnancy. METHODS: Pregnant women attending antenatal care at two tertiary Sydney hospitals between January and March 2014 completed an anonymous survey. Information on general maternal and pregnancy characteristics and the use of dietary and herbal supplements, including type, duration, and sources of information was collected. Frequency and contingency tabulations were performed. RESULTS: 612 women agreed to participate (91% response rate). 23 were excluded due to incomplete data. Of 589 women included in the analysis, the mean gestational age at the time of survey was 28.5 weeks (SD 8.3), 55% had no children, and 67% were tertiary educated. Overall 62.9% of women reported taking a multivitamin (MV) and/or folic acid (FA) supplement in the 3 months pre-pregnancy. At the time of the survey 93.8% of women were taking at least one supplement (median 2, range 1-13). During pregnancy 79.1% of women were taking MVs, including 59.2% taking MV only and 19.9% taking MV and FA. The 5 most common supplements outside of a MV were FA (31%), iron (30%), vitamin D (23%), calcium (13%) and fish oil (12%). CONCLUSION: Use of folic acid and MVs and other supplements during and pre-pregnancy is relatively high, although pre-pregnancy FA supplementation rates could still be improved. Further research on the actual dosages and dietary intakes consumed are needed to examine whether pregnant women have adequate intake of nutrients, regardless of supplement use.