21 October 2020

Essential Vitamins for Pregnant Women

Pregnancy is a time of celebration and excitement. But it can also cause you to worry about how to best care for yourself and your unborn child. Taking vitamin supplements can be a great way to ensure that you and your baby receive all the nutrition you both need. But what vitamins and minerals are most important, and what vitamins should be avoided during pregnancy?

What Vitamins Should I Take During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, your body needs more of certain nutrients to support your baby's growth and development. You should meet most of your vitamin and mineral requirements by eating a healthy balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.

In addition to eating a wide range of healthy foods, doctors advise pregnant women to add a couple of supplements to their daily routine. Multivitamin supplements for pregnant women are not generally needed if you have a healthy balanced diet. However, you should take 400 micrograms of folic acid and 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day.

What Vitamins Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?

Avoid taking cod liver oil, and any supplements with vitamin A (retinol) during pregnancy as too much vitamin A can affect your baby and potentially cause congenital disabilities.

It is not recommended to take vitamin and mineral supplements that contain high doses as these can also affect your unborn child. With vitamins and minerals, more is not better. It is vital to take the correct dosage.

There are also herbs that you should avoid during pregnancy. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Black and blue cohosh
  • Yohimbe
  • Goldenseal
  • Dong quai
  • Red clover
  • Angelica
  • Yarrow
  • Mugwort
  • Wormwood
  • Pennyroyal

Always do your research and consult a suitably qualified health professional before taking any type of supplement during pregnancy or breastfeeding, even if it is herbal.

What Foods Should I Increase During Pregnancy?

You can obtain almost all the nutrients you need from your food intake. The vitamins and minerals you need, how much you need during pregnancy, and the foods to increase are as follows:

  • Iron is essential for blood production and energy levels. Pregnant women need 27 milligrams of iron per day. Unless you have anemia or low hemoglobin levels, you can get all the iron you need from eating leafy greens, nuts, seeds, pulses, fortified breakfast cereals, and dried fruits.
  • Vitamin C aids iron absorption, boosts collagen production, and supports your baby's immune system. You should consume 50 milligrams per day, and you can get this easily from citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, peppers, strawberries, cabbage, and tomatoes.
  • Calcium is essential for bone development. You need 1000 milligrams of calcium per day while pregnant and breastfeeding. Get this from dairy and fortified dairy substitutes, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tofu, fortified bread, and breakfast cereals.

When Should I Start Taking Pregnancy Vitamins?

You should start taking 400 micrograms of folic acid from before you conceive until 12 weeks of pregnancy. Folic acid reduces the risk of your baby developing neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

As soon as you know that you are pregnant, start taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D per day throughout your entire pregnancy and during breastfeeding. Vitamin D aids calcium absorption, which in turn helps the baby's skeletal development.

Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

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