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Vitamins and Minerals in Pregnancy

Updated on August 17, 2015

Which Vitamins and Minerals do I need?

Most Vitamins and minerals your body needs you can get from a healthy balanced diet however there are a few essential ones needed in Pregnancy.

Folic Acid

It is important to take Folic acid in pregnancy as this helps reduce the risks of neural tube defects in the fetus such as Spina Bifida. If you are planning to get pregnant then you need to take 400 micrograms of Folic acid daily. If you are already pregnant then start taking it as soon as find out that you are pregnant until you are 12 weeks.

There are plenty of foods that have had folic acid added to them such as breakfast cereals, breads and margarines. There are some foods that are rich in folic acid such as green leafy vegetables and brown rice.


Vitamin D

Vitamin D supplements are needed to help keep bones and teeth healthy by regulating the amount if calcium in the body. Taking Vitamin D throughout pregnancy provides your baby with enough vitamin D for the first three months of their life.

Lack of Vitamin D in the body can cause the bones to soften and lead to a disease called Ricketts which is a bone deformation.

Vitamin D (10 micrograms) supplements should be taken every day. There are foods that contain Vitamin D such as oily fish and breakfast cereals but the best source of vitamin D is from the summer sunlight. You dont have to sunbathe as the amount of sun you need to make enough vitamin D is less than the amount that causes tanning.

If you always cover yourself up when you go out in the sun you may be at a small risk of a vitamin D deficiency.

Iron

Iron is needed for red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. If you have a low iron count then you may feel tired or a little breathless and you may need to go on Iron tablets or liquid to bring your iron count up. Eating the right foods that are rich in iron such as green leafy vegetables, lean meat dried fruit and some breakfast cereals have iron added to them. It is important to keep your iron levels up as when you deliver your baby you will lose some blood and your body can deal with the blood loss better if your iron levels are good.

Every GP and hospital has different guidelines with iron levels and supplements so take advice from them first.

Oranges and orange juice are a great source of Vitamin C
Oranges and orange juice are a great source of Vitamin C

Vitamin C

This is needed to help absorb iron and foods that are rich in vitamin C are oranges, orange juice, and all citrus fruits, potatoes, broccoli and tomatoes. If you are taking iron supplements or eating iron rich foods, take them with a glass of orange juice to help the iron absorb better.

Calcium

This is needed to help keep teeth and bones healthy as well as your developing baby. Foods that are rich in calcium are dairy products such as milk, yogurts and cheese. Other good sources of calcium are fish with edible bones such as sardines, green leafy vegetables, breakfast cereals, tofu and bread.

Vitamin Supplements

In pregnancy it is best to get all your vitamins and minerals from the food you eat, however there are supplements you need to take as well:

  • 10 micrograms of Vitamin D throughout your pregnancy and if you are breastfeeding.
  • 400 micrograms of Folic acid tablets from before you are pregnant (or as soon as you find out you are pregnant) up to 12 weeks
  • If you are a vegetarian or vegan you may need to take vitamin B12 Supplements but you will need to talk to your GP or Midwife for this.
  • Do not take any Vitamin A tablets or supplements that contain Vitamin A. Make sure that if you take any combined multivitamins that they are suitable for pregnant women.


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