Objective: To evaluate dietary habits and nutrient intake of Finnish pregnant women, to relate these to the use of dietary supplements, and to explore possible dietary variations according to age and education.
Design: A random dietary survey using two five day estimated food records.
Setting: Pregnant women from 13 maternity clinics in the city of Oulu, Finland.
Subjects: One hundred and eighteen pregnant women in their third trimester.
Main results: The main sources of energy were cereal products and milk products. The consumption of fish and poultry was low. Women with a higher educational level consumed more vegetables, fruit, fruit juices, and tea and less sausages, inner organs and coffee than women with a lower educational level. Younger women (< 25 y) consumed more sugar and pork and less berries, butter and inner organs than older women. On average 15% of the total energy was supplied by protein, 33% by fats, 52% by carbohydrates, and 12% by sucrose. Compared to the Nordic nutrition recommendations, the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids and the intake of dietary fibre were low and the intake of sugar high. The intakes of vitamins and minerals met or exceeded the recommended allowances, except for vitamin D, folate, and iron. Of the subjects 70% used dietary supplements. With the exception of vitamin D, folate, and iron, both the supplement users and non-users had an adequate nutrient intake from their diet.
Conclusions: A balanced diet covers the increased nutrient requirements during pregnancy, with the exception for vitamin D, folate, and iron. The use of dietary supplements during pregnancy is excessive and partly focused on the wrong nutrients. Young and less educated, and smoking pregnant women need more nutritional guidance.