The need for vitamins and minerals increases during pregnancy. Adequate and balanced nutrition helps meet the increasing needs. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), recommends that all pregnant women take prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements. However, the use of supplements during pregnancy should be planned individually by the doctor.

Poor nutrition, dietary restrictions, hyperemesis gravidarum, nutrient deficiencies detected in blood tests, smoking, and multiple pregnancies may increase the need for supplements.

Prenatal Vitamins

Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins specially formulated to meet the increased micronutrient needs during pregnancy. It is used before conception, during pregnancy and during breastfeeding. Prenatal vitamin supplements may reduce the incidence of pregnancy complications and infant health problems.

Folic Acid

Folate is a B-group 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. During pregnancy, adequate amounts of folic acid should be taken to reduce the risk of neural tube defects and congenital abnormalities such as cleft palate and heart defects. ACOG recommends that all pregnant women get at least 600 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day. Most prenatal vitamins contain this amount of folic acid. Also, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all women who are planning to become pregnant or of childbearing age take 400 mcg of folic acid per day. Because birth abnormalities due to folate deficiency may develop in the early stages of pregnancy before the pregnancy is noticed.


Iron is critical for oxygen transport and the healthy growth and development of the baby and placenta. Since the mother’s blood volume increases by approximately 45% during pregnancy, the need for iron increases significantly. The recommended intake of 27 milligrams (mg)Trusted Source iron per day can be met through most prenatal vitamins. However, if there is iron deficiency or anemia, higher doses of iron supplements may be required under the control of a doctor.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for immune function, bone health and cell division. Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk of preeclampsia, premature birth, and gestational diabetes. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D during pregnancy is 600 IU or 15 mcg.

Fish Oil

Fish oil contains docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two essential fatty acids that are important for baby’s brain development. Consuming 2-3 portions of low-mercury fish such as salmon and sardines per week during pregnancy can meet the need, but supplementation may be required in cases where fish consumption cannot be achieved.


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