Vitamins and minerals for pregnancy
Pregnancy places extra nutritional demands on your body to keep you healthy and support the growth and development of your baby. Particular attention should be given to the following vitamins and minerals.
- Folic acid – Not having enough folic acid in early pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Taking a daily folic acid supplement with 400‐500mcg of folic acid one month before conception and during pregnancy may help to reduce this risk.
- Iodine – Adequate iodine in pregnancy is essential for normal growth, healthy hearing and mental development of the baby.
- Calcium and vitamin D – Throughout pregnancy your baby requires calcium to build healthy bones. Vitamin D is needed for calcium absorption, which is why the requirement for vitamin D increases in pregnancy. Unfortunately studies show that many women of child‐bearing age have low levels of vitamin D.
- Omega 3 Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) – Omega 3 essential fatty acids, particularly DHA, are required all through pregnancy but in particular during the last trimester. DHA supports the normal development and function of the baby’s brain and retina. It may also help the infant’s mental development and support information processing, attention and problem‐solving skills later in life.
- Iron – Iron is necessary for the formation of haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen to the body’s tissues. In pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume increases1 so she will need more iron to make more haemoglobin. The mother’s need for iron also increases because the baby is dependent on her iron stores for healthy growth and development.
Pregnancy and supplementation
In addition to a healthy and varied diet, pregnant women may benefit from a specialised pregnancy supplement to ensure they provide their bodies with everything they need for their own wellbeing and to support the health of their rapidly developing baby.
Always read the label. Use only as directed. Consult your healthcare professional if symptoms persist. Vitamin supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
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Published March 9, 2014
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