What vitamins to take during pregnancy
A baby’s growth is the most rapid in the first weeks of life – often before you are aware you are pregnant, so it's understandable that mums to be want to know that vitamins to take during pregnancy. For your body to be able to fully support these developments, higher levels of two key nutrients folic acid and iodine are essential. Because these nutrients cannot be obtained from your diet alone, the Australian health guidelines recommend taking a pregnancy supplement containing these two nutrients each day in addition to a healthy well-balanced diet. For why these nutrients are important, refer to our article on pregnancy nutrients. Many standard multivitamins supplements are available in Australia, but they don’t contain adequate amounts of folic acid and iodine required for healthy development. Because of this you’ll need to select a special pregnancy supplement that has been formulated for women who are planning to conceive or are pregnant. In saying that, always check the ingredients to see it contains at least 500 micrograms of folic acid and at least 150 micrograms of iodine. Not all formulations contain iodine and the amounts also vary. Below, we’ve listed suitable pregnancy supplements that meet the recommended national health pregnancy requirements. You’ll find these available on the shelf (or over the counter in some states) at your local pharmacy. [su_table responsive="yes"]
|Product||Daily Dosage||Required Active Nutrients|
|Blackmores i-FOLIC (not Blackmores Folate)||1 Capsule||500 mcg folic acid & 150 mcg iodine|
|Elevit Pregnancy Multivitamin||1 Capsule||800 mcg folic acid & 220 mcg iodine|
|Blackmores Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Gold||2 Capsules||500 mcg folic acid & 150 mcg iodine|
|Swisse Ultinatal Pre-Conception & Pregnancy Multivitamin||2 Capsules||400 mg folic acid & 220 mcg iodine|
|Blackmore Conceive Well Gold||1 Capsule||500 mcg folic acid & 150 mcg iodine|
While it may seem like “more is better” with supplements, this is not correct. Many of the other vitamins and minerals in a pregnancy multivitamin supplement are water soluble and end up in your urine if you don’t need them. There are higher requirements of other vitamins and minerals during your pregnancy, but these can be achieved through the food you eat. Your doctor will indicate if another supplementation is needed. For some women, a blood test may indicate that a separate supplement containing iron or Vitamin D may be required.
When should I start and finish taking pregnancy supplements? Ideally, folic acid and iodine should be taken from the point of planning pregnancy, but at least one month before. In this way, your body is ready to support your baby’s health at conception. If the pregnancy is not planned, start taking the pregnancy supplement as soon as possible after finding out you are pregnant. Folate is recommended to be continued for the first three months of pregnancy and iodine should be continued for the full duration of the pregnancy. Since majority of the pregnancy supplements contain both active ingredients, it’s recommended to take them from the point of planning pregnancy and continue daily for the full duration of the entire pregnancy.
TIP: If you experience symptoms of morning sickness such as nausea and vomiting, take the supplementation at midday or in the evening. Even women who aren’t planning to have a baby should increase their folate and iodine intake if they are sexually active, because around half of all pregnancies in Australia are unplanned. If you have a family history of neural tube defects you may require more folic acid and you should ask your doctor or health care provider for advice about your individual needs. Women with pre-existing thyroid conditions should consult their doctor before taking iodine supplements. Remember that a pregnancy supplement shouldn’t be a replacement for a healthy diet; rather it supports a healthy diet. If unsure your doctor, midwife, pharmacist or a dietitian can help you to choose the best supplement for your needs.
- National Health and Medical Research Council. (2013). Eat for Health – Infant Feeding Guidelines Information for Health Workers. Available from: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/about-us/publications/infant-feeding-guidelines-information-health-workers
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand. (2016). Folic acid/folate and pregnancy. Available from: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/generalissues/pregnancy/folic/Pages/default.aspx
- National Health and Medical Research Council (2010). Iodine Supplementation. Available from: https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/generalissues/pregnancy/folic/Pages/default.aspx