Dietary Supplement Use and Its Micronutrient Contribution During Pregnancy and Lactation in the United States

Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Mar;135(3):623-633. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000003657.


Objective: To estimate the prevalence of use and the micronutrient contribution of dietary supplements among pregnant, lactating, and nonpregnant and nonlactating women in the United States.

Methods: Cross-sectional data from 1,314 pregnant, 297 lactating, and 8,096 nonpregnant and nonlactating women (aged 20-44 years) in the 1999-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were combined to produce statistically reliable, nationally representative estimates. Information about dietary supplements used in the past 30 days was collected through an interviewer-administered questionnaire and in-home inventory. The prevalence of nutrient-specific supplement use, mean daily nutrient intakes from supplements among users, and motivations for supplement use were assessed. Differences by age, income, and trimester within pregnant women were also tested.

Results: Seventy-seven percent of pregnant women and 70% of lactating women used one or more dietary supplements, whereas 45% of nonpregnant and nonlactating women used supplements. In particular, 64% of pregnant and 54% of lactating women used prenatal supplements. Mean intakes of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, vitamins B6, B12, and C, iron, and zinc from supplements alone were at or above their respective recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) among pregnant and lactating supplement users. About half of pregnant and 40% of lactating women took supplements based on the recommendation of a health care provider. Among pregnant women, those in their first trimester, aged 20-34 years, or in a lower-income family were less likely to use supplements compared with their counterparts.

Conclusion: The majority of pregnant and lactating women used dietary supplements, which contributed many nutrients in doses above the RDAs. Although inadequate Intakes of folate and iron are of concern among pregnant women who are not using supplements, supplement users often consumed high doses, suggesting a potential need of health care providers to discuss dietary supplement use and the recommended doses of nutrients during pregnancy and lactation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactation / psychology*
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • United States
  • Young Adult


  • Micronutrients