Vitamins and supplements for pregnancy
More or less?
Find out which vitamins and supplements are vital
It may come as a surprise to learn that only two nutrients are recommended as supplements during pregnancy. Despite this, many women choose to take a prenatal multivitamin and mineral supplement as back up for any nutritional shortfall in their diet. Learn which nutrients are in most pregnancy supplements, when they’re most helpful and why a well-balanced diet is the best possible source of nutrition.
To supplement or not?
Many mums-to-be assume they should be taking a prenatal multivitamin from the moment they become pregnant. In reality, food should be your main source of most of the vitamins and minerals needed to support you and your baby during pregnancy.
A prenatal supplement that provides a variety of nutrients can be helpful during the early stages if morning sickness is making it difficult to keep food down. Later on, a prenatal multivitamin can help to ensure you’re getting the right balance of nutrients, even if your diet and appetite changes and fluctuates.
Two essential prenatal vitamins
The two nutritional supplements that are recommended during pregnancy are folic acid and vitamin D. Folic acid is recommended while you are trying to get pregnant, too.
- Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. You are advised to take 400mcg per day of folic acid 3 months before pregnancy through to the 12th week of pregnancy.
- Vitamin D is needed for healthy bone growth. The most efficient source is sunlight on the skin but because Ireland only receives sufficient UVB rays during the summer months, a 10mcg daily supplement is recommended year-round throughout pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding.
Make sure your supplements are pregnancy-safe
During pregnancy, your nutritional needs change and certain nutrients can be harmful if taken in high doses.
To reduce any risks to you and your baby, always choose supplements that are made especially for pregnant women. Let your midwife know if you’re taking anything other than prenatal vitamins – even some herbal remedies may not be advisable.
What’s in a prenatal multivitamin?
The nutrient content of prenatal multivitamins varies between brands. However, most contain good levels of the following key nutrients for pregnancy:
- Vitamin D – regulates calcium and phosphate, which are essential for your baby’s developing bones and teeth
- Omega 3 – supports your baby’s developing brain and nervous system and contributes to a healthy heart
- Folate/folic acid – helps prevent neural tube defects and is recommended until the 12th week of pregnancy
- Iron – a healthy supply is needed to support your increased blood volume and reduce your risk of iron-deficiency anaemia
- Vitamin B12 – helps the body process folic acid and is involved in releasing energy from food and making red blood cells
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.