Vitamin and mineral supplements for pregnancy
Certain vitamin and mineral supplements are medically beneficial to you when you are trying for a baby, and to you and your developing fetus when you are pregnant.
Vitamin and mineral supplements can be purchased in pharmacies and supermarkets. Always check the label on the pack to ensure that the doses of vitamins and minerals it contains are correct for pregnancy. If you’re not sure, check with us, as we’re across the latest medical recommendations.
Folate, or folic acid
Folate, or folic acid, is a B-group vitamin that is necessary for the correct growth and development of the fetus.
Folate is usually obtained from dietary sources such as leafy green vegetables, fortified breads, and cereals. We recommend supplementing this intake prior to pregnancy and during your first trimester, as this reduces the chance of baby acquiring a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida.
The recommended dose in Australia is 500 micrograms a day, starting at least three months before pregnancy if possible and continuing throughout the first trimester.
There are some situations where you need to take much higher doses of folate—for example, if you or a family member has had a baby affected by a neural tube defect, or if you are taking certain anti-epileptic medications. Talk to us and we can determine the correct dosage for you.
Iodine is a mineral used by the thyroid gland to make hormones that are needed for proper brain and nervous system development.
Iodine deficiency is becoming more common in Australia and can cause problems such as learning difficulties and intellectual disability.
The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia recommends that pregnant and breastfeeding women take a supplement of 150 micrograms of iodine each day.
However, if you have (or are suspected to have) a thyroid condition, you should discuss the use of a supplement with your GP or us prior to commencing.
Omega 3 (also known as DHA or fish oil)
reduces the risk of your baby being born prematurely. Omega 3 is found naturally in fish but it would be difficult to gain the recommended amount of Omega 3 from diet alone. The advice for pregnant women expecting a single baby is to consume daily fish oil supplements containing at least 500mg of DHA, starting at 12 weeks of pregnancy.
If you are pregnant and following a restricted diet for cultural, ethical, medical, or religious or reasons, you may need additional supplements. For example, vegetarian and vegan women may need extra vitamin B12 and/or iron, and lactose intolerant women may need to take calcium supplements.
If you minimise the exposure of your skin to the sun, or have dark skin, you may be at risk of a vitamin D deficiency.
As part of your routine blood tests during pregnancy, we may check your vitamin B12, iron and vitamin D levels, and advise you of any supplements that you may need to take to compensate or address any deficiency.
If you have any questions about the suitability or doses of vitamins and mineral supplements prior to or during pregnancy, please call Adelaide Obstetrics & Fertility on 08 8272 7755.