A healthy start for a healthy life: maternal nutrition takeaways from Vitafoods Europe 2022

By:  Talking Nutrition Editors

 

Summary

  • Consuming an adequate quantity of high-quality nutrients is important at every life stage, but particularly for moms and infants during the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life – from conception through to a child’s 2nd birthday – to ensure the best health and development outcomes. However, meeting maternal nutrition needs is not always possible through diet alone.
  • At Vitafoods Europe last month, experts from DSM discussed the importance of maternal nutrition for both moms and babies and the impact that inadequate nutrient intake can have during pregnancy and beyond.
  • Here, we explore the latest nutritional solutions and formats – including capsules and supplement granules that can be sprinkled on food – designed to support moms to be, expectant and nursing moms, offering peace of mind throughout the motherhood journey.

 

Ensuring the best start

The nutrition and care that mothers and babies receive during the first 1,000 days of life has a critical impact on long-term growth and development. From preconception to pregnancy and up to a child’s second birthday, this period offers a unique window of opportunity to shape a healthier and more prosperous future for children. But many moms have an insufficient intake of essential nutrients.

At this year’s Vitafoods Europe, Despina Ioannides, Global Innovation Manager Early Life Nutrition, explored future opportunities in the maternal nutrition space in a presentation titled: “A Healthy Start for a Healthy Life: The Motherhood Journey”. The session gave an overview of the latest innovations from DSM including a series of new concepts developed to help moms address nutrient gaps and ensure their babies have the best start in life. Read on to discover more.

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The importance of nutrition

Each stage of becoming a mother is different – but good nutrition is essential throughout the motherhood journey. From preparing the body for conception and reducing the risk of pre-term birth, to ensuring breastmilk meets their baby’s nutritional needs, consuming an adequate intake of all nutrients including vitamins, minerals and omega-3s is especially important. This supports not only the health of the infant, but also of mom.

In low-to-middle income countries, it can be particularly challenging to access a varied, nutritionally rich diet. Offering 15 or more essential nutrients, multiple micronutrient supplementation (MMS) delivers important benefits for expectant mothers and their babies and is now on the World Health Organization’s Essential Medicine List. At DSM, we aim to have a significant and positive impact on 100 million women in low-to-middle income countries by providing them with access to MMS by 2029.

So, what nutritional solutions are important for mothers looking to ensure their maternal nutrition needs are being met at each stage in the journey?

1. Preconception

Adequate consumption of folate in the early stages of pregnancy is vital for protecting babies from neural tube defects (NTDs) that can lead to debilitating conditions, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.1 Folic acid is commonly found in dietary supplements and fortified foods and clinically proven to decrease the risk of NTDs2, but must go through a series of enzymatic processes to be absorbed by the body and up to half of the population has limited enzyme activity.3 Methylfolate – or Metafolin®*, on the other hand, is identical to the form of folate found naturally occurring in foods and red blood cells. As enzymatic processing is not required, it is more bioavailable and absorbed faster than folic acid.There is also emerging evidence to suggest that Metafolin® may support higher levels of fertility.5

2. Pregnancy

Preterm births can be linked to a range of developmental difficulties in childhood and into adulthood. The pioneering ADORE trial established that supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, during pregnancy at 1,000 mg per day significantly reduces the risk of early preterm birth (EPB), or birth <34 weeks gestation, especially if participants had low DHA status at enrolment.6 However, while the importance of DHA in supporting the motherhood journey is considered mainstream, 96% of the global population does not consume enough of the recommended levels (250 mg per day) of omega-3s DHA – with the ADORE trial indicating benefits at a much higher dosage.7

3. Lactation

The motherhood journey does not stop at pregnancy, with nursing being the next important phase. Nutrients added into formulations for lactation support could include fenugreek, which helps contribute to breastmilk production, and vitamin B12 and magnesium to help maintain energy levels.8

What are moms looking for?

For manufacturers looking to stand out in the maternal nutrition space, it is crucial to capture the interest of mothers at the beginning of their pregnancy journey. The market for maternal nutrition supplements is growing in EMEA; however, around one third of mothers end up switching products due to poor digestibility or disagreeing with the taste or texture of solutions.9 With over 50 percent of moms using their own research to choose which supplements are best for them, brands need to continue to innovate and connect with consumers through messaging that focuses on the baby’s healthy growth and development.10

Creating a brighter future for moms and babies

At DSM, we understand that adequate maternal nutrition is essential in ensuring a healthy start to life.

With consumer insights, scientific expertise and market-ready solutions, DSM can help you support pregnancies that lead to happy and healthy babies and mothers with purpose-led solutions.

 

*Metafolin®  is a registered trademark of Merck

Published on

08 July 2022

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References

  1. R.J. Berry, LB (2010), Fortification of flour with folic acid, Food and Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 31, no. 1 (supplement), Fortification of Flour with Folic Acid (sagepub.com) p.s22.
  2. R.J. Berry, LB (2010), Fortification of flour with folic acid, Food and Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 31, no. 1 (supplement), Fortification of Flour with Folic Acid (sagepub.com) p.s22.
  3. Alphasights expert interviews, 2022.
  4. Prinz-Langenohl, 2009.
  5. Cirillo, 2021, Essmat 2021.
  6. Carlson SE, Gajewski BJ, Valentine CJ, et al. Higher dose docosahexaenoic acid supplementation during pregnancy and early preterm birth: A randomised, double-blind, adaptive-design superiority trial. EClinicalMedicine. 2021.
  7. Stark et al, Global survey of Omega-3 fatty acids etc, Progress in Lipids research, 20 May 2016.
  8. Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to vitamin B12, EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA), EFSA Journal 2009; 7 (9): 1223, Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to vitamin B12, EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA), EFSA Journal 2010; 8 (10); 1756, Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to magnesium, EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA), EFSA Journal 2009; 7 (9): 1216, Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to magnesium, EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA), EFSA Journal 2010; 8 (10): 1807, Khan T.M., Wu T. B-C., Dolzhenko A.V. Effectiveness of fenugreek as a galactagogue: A network meta‐analysis. Phytotherapy Research. 2018; 32:402-412.
  9. Alphasights expert interviews, 2022.
  10. Alphasights expert interviews, 2022.

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