Essential Vitamins And Minerals Supplements During Pregnancy

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During pregnancy your need for certain vitamins and minerals increases and over half the nutrients you eat are used by your growing baby—one of many reasons why you may feel tired even during the early months while your baby is still quite tiny.

Health Central

Studies show that a good maternal diet around the time of conception and during pregnancy significantly reduces the risk of having a baby with a low birth weight, which is one of the commonest causes of serious health problems in the newborn.

Healthy diet is especially important when you have a multiple pregnancy as you have to nourish two or more infants rather than one.

At present, the only supplement univer­sally recommended when planning a baby and during preg­nancy is folic acid, which can reduce the risk of certain congenital problems (neural tube defects) such as spina bifida by 75 per cent.

Other nutrients such as B12 and certain trace minerals can reduce this risk even further, however. In fact, taking a multivitamin supplement for at least one month before conception and for at least two months after has been shown to reduce the risk of all major congenital abnormalities by at least half, while the risks of some problems such as urinary tract abnormalities may be reduced by as much as 85 per cent.


Unfortunately, women of childbearing age in the Western world are likely to have intakes below the recommended daily amount (RDA) for a wide range of nutrients, including folic acid, vitamins A, B6, C, E, iron and zinc. Studies have also found that intakes of calcium and magnesium in pregnant women are frequently below the RDA, although the signifi­cance of this is still uncertain.

Health Care


Whilst it is important to obtain vitamins and minerals in adequate amounts, it is also important not to take too much as some can be harmful in excess. Although diet should always come first, it is a good idea to take a vitamin and mineral supplement especially designed for pregnancy. Several differ­ent brands are available, and your pharmacist can advise on which would suit you best.


The RNIs drawn up in 1991 accept that pregnant women need more vitamin A, thiamin (vitamin Bl), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin C, vitamin D and folic acid than do non-pregnant women, but surprisingly claim that a woman needs no other vitamins or additional minerals during pregnancy.

This seems strange as, in many cases, the recommended intakes for UK pregnant women are less than the EU RDAs for non-pregnant adult women. These recommendations need urgent updating, not just for the health of mother and baby during pregnancy, but for the long-term health of the mother’s bones and her future risk of osteoporosis.