The importance of vitamins and minerals in pregnancy
What you need to know about the vitamins and minerals important for a healthy pregnancy
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is vital when you’re pregnant, to give you a daily dose of those all-important vitamins and minerals. And you’ll also need to take supplements for the big two - folic acid and vitamin D.
Here’s a quick guide to what you need to know about the essential vitamins and minerals you will need during your pregnancy.
Helpful for warding off birth defects like spina bifida, folic acid needs to be taken before you conceive, and right through until your 13th week of pregnancy. Look out for foods which are rich in folate, like fortified cereals, brown rice and green leafy veg. It is recommended to take the daily 400 microgram supplement. Higher doses of folic acid (5mg) may be recommended for those with a raised bmi, a family history of spina bifida or neural tube defects, have diabetes or are on medication for epilepsy.
Vitamin D is also important in pregnancy, as it supports bone health, which is crucial for you and your baby. You can get some Vitamin D from oily fish, eggs and meat - and a daily burst of sunshine boosts levels too. But the safest and most reliable solution is taking a 10 microgram supplement every day. NICE guidance says some women may be advised to take higher doses of vitamin D if their BMI is high, they are immobile or women with covered or pigmented skin.
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If you’re running low on iron during pregnancy, you’ll probably get super tired and may suffer from anaemia. An iron rich diet will help – so try green leafy veg (again!), plus dried fruit and nuts. Or if blood tests show your levels are low, your midwife or GP may suggest iron tablets. Vitamin C helps you to absorb iron so have a glass of orange juice when eating iron-rich foods or with your iron tablets if you have been advised to take them.
Have a chat
Your midwife or GP can help you decide which supplements or vitamins you need, such as multivitamins specifically designed for mums-to-be. Make sure you avoid vitamin A supplements though, or any supplements containing vitamin A (retinol), as too much could harm your baby.
You may qualify for free supplements via the Healthy Start scheme, or even via a local NHS organisation – ask your midwife for advice.