Do You Need to Take Vitamins or Supplements During Pregnancy?
A woman’s nutritional needs change during pregnancy. It is important to eat healthy, nutrient rich food to nourish yourself and your growing baby and remember that while you should be increasing the amount of food you consume, you are not eating for two. Keeping up a healthy and nutritional diet, along with regular exercise (where cleared by your Doctor or Midwife) during pregnancy can assist in reducing the risk of health complications.
During pregnancy, it’s vital to remember that weight gain and nutritional value are quite important. The following link provides a guide for weight gain, amongst other helpful information:
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and supplements cannot replace a healthy diet but may assist if there is a deficiency and provide that little extra you may be missing. Always check with your Pharmacist or GP before taking any vitamin, mineral or herbal supplements.
While all vitamins and minerals play a role in the overall growth and development of your baby, the following have been highlighted as being of particular importance:
Folic Acid (Folate)
Folic acid is important during the conception phase and early stages of pregnancy with the development of the neural tube (the structure that ultimately forms the brain and spinal cord). Healthy levels of folic acid can assist in the prevention of birth defects such as spina bifida.
The daily recommendation is 400mcg from 12 weeks prior to conception to 12 weeks after.
Foods rich in folate include:
- Green vegetables
- Legumes (such as lentils, beans and chickpeas)
- Citrus fruits
- Rice, bread and pasta
Iron is important in the production of red blood cells which help carry oxygen around you and your baby’s body.
Consult with you doctor prior to taking an iron supplement. During pregnancy the recommended daily dose is 27mg.
Foods rich in iron include:
- Red meat, poultry, fish and eggs
- Green leafy vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health, immune function and healthy cell division. It also helps the body to absorb Calcium.
Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy has been linked with an increased risk of premature birth, gestational diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Foods high in Vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish (such as salmon and tuna)
- Cheese (hard cheeses only as it’s best to avoid soft cheese during pregnancy)
- Foods fortified with Vitamin D such as dairy or soy milk and cereals
See your Doctor before considering supplements and discuss walking for 6-7 minutes in the sunlight during summer and up to 25 minutes during winter months for adequate intake.
Zinc is an essential mineral for cell development and is important for the healthy growth and development of your baby.
Foods rich in Zinc include:
- Red meat
- Green vegetables (such as spinach, broccoli and kale)
Consider consulting your Doctor if you require a zinc supplement, however the recommended daily dose is between 8.5-10 mg (dependant on age during pregnancy)
Iodine is important in the healthy growth and development of the brain and nervous system.
Foods rich in Iodine include:
- Foods containing iodised salt
A daily dose of 150mcg to be continued throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding is currently recommended.
Vitamin C helps to boost your immune system, prevent the risk of infections and reduce wound healing time. It also helps your body absorb iron.
Foods high in Vitamin C include:
- Fruit such as citrus, strawberries, blackcurrants, kiwi and lemons
- Vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts and capsicum
The current recommended daily dose of Vitamin C is 60mg.
Vitamins and Supplements for Special Requirements
There may be times when you need assistance with meeting the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for nutrients due to a variety of reasons such as allergies and intolerances, lifestyle or a medical condition. In cases where alternative natural options may be difficult to source or substitute, there are vitamin and mineral supplements available for those with special requirements.
Gluten and Lactose Intolerance
There are a range of vitamins and supplements that have been developed which are gluten and lactose free.
- Elevit is the gold standard of Pregnancy and Breastfeeding multivitamins and is both gluten and lactose free.
- Swisse Preconception and Pregnancy Multivitamin is both gluten and lactose free
Vegetarians and Vegan Diets
There are a range of vitamins and supplements that have been developed that are vegetarian and vegan friendly. Please note, Bioceuticals and Metagenics are “Practitioner Only” products and will require consultation with your Pharmacist.
Below are some examples of vitamins which as suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Your Pharmacist or GP can provide you with guidance on options which are best suited to your situation and lifestyle.
- Vegetarian – Elevit Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Multivitamin but contains sheep’s wool which unfortunately does not meet vegan requirements.
- Vegetarian – Bioceuticals InNatal assists in meeting the increased needs of vitamins and nutrients during pregnancy (also includes InNatal plus Iron)
- Vegetarian – Bioceuticals ArmaForce Pregnancy can help with symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection and the common cold
- Vegan – Metagenics Pregnancy Care Advanced
- Vegan – Deva Vegan Prenatal Multivitamin and Mineral is a suitable supplement with vitamins and minerals close to daily requirements
During multiple pregnancies the requirement for nutrients increases, whether this is due to carrying multiple babies or having pregnancies close together. Have a chat with your Pharmacist or Doctor to ensure you are getting the right amount of essential daily nutrients.
How Your Pharmacist Can Help
First of all, congratulations! Our friendly Pharmacists are here help you with the confusing world of vitamins and what you do and don’t need. Come in and ask to speak to one of us and let us guide you in the right direction.
It is important to check with your Pharmacist and GP whether or not you need to take supplements and the dosage you require.
To seek further information to elaborate on this general advice, refer to your Pharmacist or GP.
For more in-depth information https://www.racgp.org.au/download/Documents/AFP/2009/December/200912lim.pdf