During pregnancy, it’s important to get all the vitamins you need, but you need to be a little more careful with some than others. Here’s a list of the most important vitamins for pregnancy—and why each one is so important. Vitamins for Pregnancy: The most important vitamins for pregnancy are the ‘B’ vitamins. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps keep the immune system strong. Folic acid promotes healthy neural tube development in babies, prevent miscarriage and certain birth defects.
When you’re pregnant, you have to make sure your body is getting the right vitamins and minerals it needs to grow that little baby. Vitamins are food additives that help with the absorption of specific nutrients into your system, so taking them can protect your body and reduce the chance of complications during pregnancy. A healthy, balanced diet is an essential part of any pregnancy but it can be difficult to avoid feeling unwell. Vitamins are an easy way to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs and give you a boost when you need it most.
Pregnant women need many more nutrients than the average person, especially throughout the first trimester and during breastfeeding. Certain vitamins help to keep your skin and hair healthy, allow your body to absorb iron and calcium, and give you energy. Without enough vitamin D or folic acid in your diet, your baby could be born with neural tube defects. It’s also recommended that you take a daily prenatal vitamin as a general health supplement.
What Are The Most Important Vitamins To Take When Pregnant
The most important vitamins to take when pregnant are folic acid and DHA. Folic acid helps your baby’s nervous system develop properly, so it’s crucial that all women who might get pregnant (even if you’re not trying) take 800 micrograms of folic acid every day from the start of pregnancy through 12 weeks of a pregnancy.
If you did your extra credit work, we bet you already know that high mercury seafood, alcohol, and cigarettes are off-limits during pregnancy. What may surprise you is that some vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements should be avoided as well.
Information on which supplements are safe and which aren’t varies and can make things feel even more complicated. We’ve got you, though.
This article breaks down which supplements are believed to be safe to take during pregnancy and why some supplements should be avoided.
Getting the right nutrients is important at every stage of life, but it’s especially critical during pregnancy, as you’ll need to nourish both yourself and your growing babe.
Pregnancy increases the need for nutrients
During pregnancy, macronutrient intake needs grow significantly. Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
For example, protein intake needs to increase from the recommended 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kg) of body weight for non-pregnant women to 0.5 grams per pound (1.1 grams per kg) of body weight for pregnant women.
You’ll want to be including protein in every meal and snack to meet your needs.
The requirement for micronutrients, which include vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, increases even moreTrusted Source than the need for macronutrients.
While some people are able to meet this growing demand through a well-planned, nutrient-dense eating plan, it can be a challenge for others.
You may need to take vitamin and mineral supplements for various reasons, including:
- Nutrient deficiencies: Some people may need a supplement after a blood test reveals a deficiency in a vitamin or mineral. Correcting deficiencies is critical, as a shortage of nutrients like folate has been linked to birth defects.
- Hyperemesis gravidarum: This pregnancy complication is characterized by severe nausea and vomiting. It can lead to weight loss and nutrient deficiencies.
- Dietary restrictions: Women who follow specific diets, including vegans and those with food intolerances and allergies, may need to supplement with vitamins and minerals to prevent micronutrient deficiencies
- Smoking: Although it’s critical for mothers to avoid cigarettes during pregnancy, those who continue to smoke have an increased needTrusted Source for specific nutrients like vitamin C and folate.
- Multiple pregnancies: Women carrying more than one baby have higher micronutrient needs than women carrying one baby. Supplementing is often necessary to ensure optimal nutrition for both the mother and her babies.
- Genetic mutations like MTHFR: Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) is a gene that converts folate into a form that the body can use. Pregnant women with this gene mutation may need to supplement with a specific form of folate to avoid complications.
- Poor nutrition: Women who under eat or choose foods that are low in nutrients may need to supplement with vitamins and minerals to avoid deficiencies.
In addition, experts like those at the American College of Obstetricians and
Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend that all pregnant people take a prenatal vitamin and folic acid supplement. This is advised to fill nutritional gaps and prevent developmental abnormalities at birth like spina bifida.
Depending on your personal circumstances, be prepared to take on the task of adding supplements to your daily routine if directed by your healthcare provider.
Herbal supplements can help with ailments — with caution
In addition to micronutrients, herbal supplements are popular.
One 2019 study found that 15.4 percent of pregnant women in the United States use herbal supplements. However not all disclose to their physicians they’re taking them. (A 2017 studyTrusted Source found about 25 percent of herbal supplement users in the United States don’t tell their docs.)
While some herbal supplements may be safe to take during pregnancy, there are far more that might not be.
Although some herbs can help with common pregnancy ailments like nausea and upset stomach, some may be harmful to both you and baby.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much research regarding the use of herbal supplements by pregnant people, and much is unknown about how the supplements can affect you.
The safest bet? Keep your doctor in the know about any and all changes to your eating plan and supplements.
Just as with medications, your doctor should approve and supervise all micronutrient and herbal supplements to ensure that they’re necessary and taken in safe amounts.
Always purchase vitamins from a reputable brand that has their products evaluated by third-party organizations like the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).
This ensures that the vitamins adhere to specific standards and are generally safe to take. Not sure which brands are reputable? Your local pharmacist can be a lot of help.
1. Prenatal vitamins
Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins that are specially formulated to meet the increased demand for micronutrients during pregnancy.
They’re intended to be taken before conception and during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Observational studies have shown that supplementing with prenatal vitamins reduces the risk of preterm birth and preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a potentially dangerous complication characterized by high blood pressure and possibly protein in the urine.
While prenatal vitamins aren’t meant to replace your healthy eating plan, they may help prevent nutritional gaps by providing extra micronutrients that are in high demand during pregnancy.
Since prenatal vitamins contain the vitamins and minerals that you’ll need, taking additional vitamin or mineral supplements may not be necessary unless suggested by your doctor.
Prenatal vitamins are often prescribed by doctors and available over-the-counter.
Folate is a B vitamin that plays an integral role in DNA synthesis, red blood cell production, and fetal growth and development.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in many supplements. It gets converted into the active form of folate — L-methylfolate — in the body.
It’s recommended to take at least 600 micrograms (mcg)Trusted Source of folate or folic acid per day to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and congenital abnormalities like cleft palate and heart defects.
In a reviewTrusted Source of five randomized studies including 6,105 women, supplementing with folic acid daily was associated with a reduced risk of neural tube defects. No negative side effects were noted.
Although adequate folate can be obtained through diet, many women don’t eat enough folate-rich foods, making supplementation necessary.
Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendsTrusted Source that all women of childbearing age consume at least 400 mcg of folate or folic acid per day.
This is because many pregnancies are unplanned, and birth abnormalities due to a folate deficiency can occur very early in pregnancy, even before most women know they’re pregnant.
It may be wise for pregnant women, especially those with an MTHFR genetic mutation, to choose a supplement that contains L-methylfolate to ensure maximum uptake.
The need for iron increases significantly during pregnancy, as maternal blood volume increases by about 45 percentTrusted Source.
Iron is critical for oxygen transport and healthy growth and development of your baby and the placenta.
Anemia during pregnancy has been associated with preterm delivery, maternal depression, and infant anemia.
The recommended intake of 27 milligrams (mg)Trusted Source iron per day can be met through most prenatal vitamins. However, if you have iron deficiency or anemia, you’ll need higher doses of iron, managed by your doctor.
If you aren’t iron deficient, you shouldn’t take more than the recommended intake of iron to avoid adverse side effects. These may include constipation, vomiting, and abnormally high hemoglobin levels.
4. Vitamin D
This fat-soluble vitamin is important for immune function, bone health, and cell division.
Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy has been linked to an increased risk of cesarean section, preeclampsia, preterm birth, and gestational diabetes.
The current recommended intake of vitamin D during pregnancy is 600 IU or 15 mcg per dayTrusted Source. However, some expertsTrusted Source suggest that vitamin D needs during pregnancy are much higher.
Check in with your doctor regarding screening for vitamin D deficiency and proper supplementation.
Magnesium is a mineral involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in your body. It plays critical roles in immune, muscle, and nerve function.
Deficiency in this mineral during pregnancy may increase the risk of chronic hypertension and premature labor.
Some studies suggest that supplementing with magnesium may reduce the risk of complications like fetal growth restriction and preterm birth.
Ginger root is commonly used as a spice and herbal supplement.
In supplement form, you may have heard of it used to treat nausea caused by motion sickness, pregnancy, or chemotherapy.
A reviewTrusted Source of four studies suggested that ginger is both safe and effective for treating pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Nausea and vomiting are common during pregnancy, with up to 80 percentTrusted Source of women experiencing them in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Though ginger may help reduce this unpleasant pregnancy complication, more research is needed to identify the maximum safe dosage. Double check with your doctor to see if you need it.
7. Fish oil
Fish oil contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two essential fatty acids that are important for baby’s brain development.
Supplementing with DHA and EPA in pregnancy might boost post-pregnancy brain development in your baby and decrease maternal depression, though research on this topic isn’t conclusive.
Although observational studies have shown improved cognitive function in the children of women who supplemented with fish oil during pregnancy, several controlled studies have failed to show a consistent benefit.
For example, one 2010 studyTrusted Source involving 2,399 women found no difference in the cognitive function of infants whose mothers had supplemented with fish oil capsules containing 800 mg of DHA per day during pregnancy, compared with infants whose mothers did not.
This study also found that supplementing with fish oil did not affect maternal depression.
However, the study did find that supplementing with fish oil protected against preterm delivery, and some evidence suggests that fish oil may benefit fetal eye development.
Maternal DHA levels are important for proper fetal development and supplementing is considered safe. The jury is still out on whether taking fish oil during pregnancy is necessary.
To get DHA and EPA through food, it’s encouraged to consume two to three servings of low-mercury fish like salmon, sardines, or pollock per week.
Given increased general awareness of gut health, many parents-to-be turn to probiotics.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that are thought to benefit digestive health.
Many studies have shown that probiotics are safe to takeTrusted Source during pregnancy, and no harmful side effects have been identified, aside from an extremely low risk of probiotic-induced infection.
Additionally, several studies have shown that supplementing with probiotics may reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, postpartum depression, and infant eczema and dermatitis.
Research on probiotic use in pregnancy is ongoing, and more about the role of probiotics in maternal and fetal health is sure to be discovered.
Choline plays a vital role in baby’s brain development and helps to prevent abnormalities of the brain and spine.
The current recommended daily allowance of choline during pregnancy (450 mg per dayTrusted Source) has been thought to be inadequate and that an intake closer to 930 mg per dayTrusted Source is optimal instead.
Note that prenatal vitamins often don’t contain choline. A separate choline supplement may be recommended by your doctor.
While supplementing with some micronutrients and herbs is safe for pregnant women, many of them should be avoided, or avoided in high amounts.
Always check with your doctor before adding any additional supplements outside of any prenatal vitamins you may be taking.
1. Vitamin A
You’ll often find vitamin A in your prenatal vitamins since it’s so important. Although this vitamin is extremely important for fetal vision development and immune function, too much vitamin A can be harmful.
Given that vitamin A is fat soluble, your body stores excess amounts in the liver.
This accumulation can have toxic effects on the body and lead to liver damage. It can even cause birth defects.
For example, excessive amounts of vitamin A during pregnancy has been shown to cause congenital birth abnormalities.
Between prenatal vitamins and foods, you should be able to get enough vitamin A, and additional supplementation outside of your prenatal vitamins is not advised.
2. Vitamin E
This fat-soluble vitamin plays many important roles in the body and is involved in gene expression and immune function.
While vitamin E is very important for health, it’s recommended that you don’t supplement with it.
Extra supplementation with vitamin E has not been shown to improve outcomes for either mothers or babies and may instead increase the risk of abdominal pain and premature rupture of the amniotic sack.
3. Black cohosh
A member of the buttercup family, black cohosh is a plant used for a variety of purposes, including controlling hot flashes and menstrual cramps.
It’s unsafe to take this herb during pregnancy, as it can cause uterine contractions, which could induce preterm labor.
Black cohosh has also been found to cause liver damage in some people.
Goldenseal is a plant that’s used as a dietary supplement to treat respiratory infections and diarrhea, although there’s very little research on its effects and safety.
Goldenseal contains a substance called berberine, which has been shown to worsen jaundice in infants. It can lead to a condition called kernicterus, a rare type of brain damage that can be fatal.
For these reasons, definitely avoid goldenseal.
5. Dong quai
Dong quai is a root that has been used for over 1,000 years and is popular in traditional Chinese medicine.
Though it’s used to treat everything from menstrual cramps to high blood pressure, evidence regarding its efficacy and safety is lacking.
You should avoid dong quai, as it may stimulate uterine contractions, raising the risk of miscarriage.
Yohimbe is a supplement made from the bark of a tree native to Africa.
It’s used as an herbal remedy to treat a range of conditions from erectile dysfunction to obesity.
This herb should never be used during pregnancy, as it has been associated with dangerous side effects like high blood pressure, heart attacks, and seizures.
7. Other herbal supplements considered unsafe during pregnancy
It’s best to avoid the following:
- saw palmetto
- red clover
- blue cohosh
Pregnant women need certain vitamins to maintain a healthy pregnancy. During pregnancy, you may have heard about folic acid and prenatal vitamins, but what about other vitamins? There are many important vitamins that you should take when pregnant to keep both you and the baby healthy. You may be worried about taking vitamins during pregnancy, but the benefits far outweigh any risk.
Vitamins are required in adequate amounts to provide the nutrients your body needs for optimal development. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, your body needs even more vitamins than usual because it is providing nutrients for a growing baby. Vitamins are essential for a healthy pregnancy. Pregnant women need to be mindful of the specific vitamins and minerals required for the development of their developing babies and for themselves. It’s important to take a prenatal vitamin while pregnant. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Most Important Vitamins For Getting Pregnant
Vitamins are essential to nourish your body, especially during conception. Among the most important vitamins for getting pregnant are Vitamin B12, which is necessary for healthy mothers, Vitamin D3 helps with getting pregnant and optimal fetal development and folate/folic acid which helps prevent neural tube defects (NTD).
The most important vitamins for getting pregnant are folic acid, vitamin A and Vitamin D. The first two are essential for a healthy pregnancy and the third is an antioxidant that helps with fetal development.
There are many vitamins that are essential for getting pregnant, and some of the most important ones are folic acid and vitamin B12. Folic acid helps protect a baby’s brain cells as well as prevent certain birth defects, while Vitamin B12 affects how well an embryo develops into a fetus. vitamin B6 is one of the most important vitamins for getting pregnant, which helps prevent problems with conception, like menstrual irregularities, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and recurrent miscarriage—and it’s easy to take.
A healthy diet is a key factor when it comes to getting pregnant. Here are the vitamins that you can ingest to improve your fertility. A healthy diet is a key factor when it comes to getting pregnant. Here are the vitamins that you can ingest to improve your fertility.
Most Important Vitamins In Early Pregnancy
As your body adjusts to the changes of early pregnancy and your baby grows, your nutritional needs do, too. It’s essential—from weeks 1 through 40 of your pregnancy—to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of healthy fats, protein and carbs. Below are some important vitamins in early pregnancy
All nutrients are important, but these six play a key role in your baby’s growth and development during pregnancy:
- Folic acid
- Vitamin D
What is folic acid?
Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. Taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (also called NTDs). Some studies show that taking folic acid may help prevent heart defects and birth defects in your baby’s mouth (called cleft lip and palate).
- Before pregnancy take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid every day.
- Take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid each day, even if you’re not trying to get pregnant.
- During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin each day that has 600 mcg of folic acid in it.
Check the product label to see how much folic acid is in it.
If you’re at high risk for having a baby with an NTD, talk to your provider about how you can safely take 4,000 mcg of folic acid each day to help prevent an NTD. Start taking 4,000 mcg at least 3 months before you get pregnant and through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. You’re at high risk if:
- You’ve had a pregnancy with an NTD in the past.
- You or your partner has an NTD.
- Your partner has a child with an NTD.
Don’t take several multivitamins or prenatal vitamins. You can get too much of other nutrients, which may be harmful to your health. Your provider can help you figure out the best and safest way for you to get the right amount of folic acid.
You can also get folic acid from food. Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables and beans are all excellent sources of folic acid. Some foods are also enriched with folic acid, such as cereals, bread, rice and pasta.
What is iron?
Iron is a mineral. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein that helps carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. You need twice as much iron during pregnancy than you did before pregnancy. Your body needs this iron to make more blood so it can carry oxygen to your baby. Your baby needs iron to make his own blood.
During pregnancy, you need 27 milligrams of iron each day. Most prenatal vitamins have this amount. You also can get iron from food. Good sources of iron include:
- Lean meat, poultry and seafood
- Cereal, bread and pasta that has iron added to it (check the package label)
- Leafy green vegetables
- Beans, nuts, raisins and dried fruit
Foods containing vitamin C can increase the amount of iron your body absorbs. It’s a good idea to eat foods like orange juice, tomatoes, strawberries and grapefruit every day.
Calcium (in dairy products like milk) and coffee, tea, egg yolks, fiber and soybeans can block your body from absorbing iron. Try to avoid these when eating iron-rich foods.
If you don’t get enough iron during pregnancy, you may be more likely to experience:
- Anemia. This means you have too little iron in your blood.
- Fatigue. This means you feel really tired or exhausted.
- Premature birth. This means your baby is born too soon, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
- Low birthweight. This means your baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces.
What is calcium?
Calcium is a mineral that helps your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nerves develop. During pregnancy, you need 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day. You can get this amount by taking your prenatal vitamin and eating food that has a lot of calcium in it. Good sources of calcium include:
- Milk, cheese and yogurt
- Broccoli and kale
- Orange juice that has calcium added to it (check the package label)
If you don’t get enough calcium during pregnancy, your body takes it from your bones and gives it to your baby. This can cause health conditions, such as osteoporosis, later in life. Osteoporosis causes your bones become thin and break easily.
What is vitamin D?
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. It also helps your body’s nerves, muscles and immune system work. Your immune system protects your body from infection. Vitamin D helps your baby’s bones and teeth grow.
During pregnancy, you need 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D each day. You can get this amount from food or your prenatal vitamin. Good sources of vitamin D include:
- Fatty fish, like salmon
- Milk and cereal that has vitamin D added to it (check the package label)
What is DHA?
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a kind of fat (called omega-3 fatty acid) that helps with growth and development. During pregnancy, you need DHA to help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. Not all prenatal vitamins contain DHA, so ask your provider if you need to take a DHA supplement.
During pregnancy, it is recommended that women eat 8 to 12 ounces of seafood low in mercury each week. Good sources of DHA include:
- Herring, salmon, trout, anchovies, halibut, catfish, shrimp and tilapia
- Orange juice, milk and eggs that have DHA added to them (check the package label)
What is iodine?
Iodine is a mineral your body needs to make thyroid hormones, which help your body use and store energy from food. You need iodine during pregnancy to help your baby’s nervous system develop. The nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves) helps your baby move, think and feel.
During pregnancy, you need 220 micrograms of iodine every day. Not all prenatal vitamins contain iodine, so make sure you eat foods that have iodine in them. Ask your provider if you need to take an iodine supplement.
Good sources of iodine include:
- Milk, cheese and yogurt
- Enriched or fortified cereal and bread (check the package label)
- Iodized salt (salt with iodine added to it; check the package label)
Pregnancy vitamins are essential in the early stages of pregnancy. They help your body to better absorb nutrients, including iron and folic acid, which can be very important during those early months. A healthy baby, a healthy mom! All of these vitamins are important for your baby’s growth, especially that of the brain and nervous system. Vitamin A is essential in the production of healthy skin, teeth and eyes. Vitamin B9 is essential for DNA synthesis in early pregnancy. Folic acid is vital for the proper development of the neural tube within days 1-2 after conception.
Some of the most important vitamins for pregnant women are also the least likely for you to get. Most of your diet comes from food, and even if you supplement your diet with organic healthy foods, we all still need a good multivitamin. As you’re starting to get used to the idea of a developing baby in your body, make sure you let your body get used to it, too. Sounds like a no-brainer — but many women don’t realize that some of their cravings can be a sign they’re not getting enough nutrition. The good news is it’s easy to eat right during pregnancy! Start by making sure you are getting enough B vitamins — which are particularly important in early pregnancy. Vitamin B6 supports hormone production and helps prevent neural tube defects (NTD), which can cause severe damage or even death to an unborn baby’s brain or spinal cord. NTDs are often diagnosed through an ultrasound at about week 12 of pregnancy.
Which Vitamin Is Important For Pregnancy
Can you believe this? Just one serving of Vitamin C provides 30-65% of a pregnant woman’s daily vitamin C requirements, making it the most powerful and convenient way to help meet your daily requirement.
B vitamins are important for the development of your baby and are vital for a healthy pregnancy. 4 B vitamins – thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and folate – are essential for a growing baby’s brain development, digestion and immunity. Vitamin B6 is one of the most important all-around vitamins for women of childbearing age. This essential nutrient works to reduce nausea, improve appetite, and alleviate morning sickness. It’s also thought to reduce risk of preeclampsia as well as aid in fetal development.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and development, but it’s not always easy to get enough from foods. Taking a prenatal vitamin with vitamin D can help fill in any gaps you might have in your diet. Vitamin D is an important vitamin for healthy bone health and for pregnant women.