Notes on Women's Health
Notes on Women's Health

Critical Vitamins and Minerals Needed During Pregnancy (and Why You Need Them)

vitamins-minerals-pregnancyPregnancy is a big change—a major life change which will prompt you to investigate what to eat, how to exercise, whether to avoid your usual medications, and all of the other things you need to know now that you are living as two persons. The good news is that you were designed to do this. There are things in our evolution that have helped guide the way. For example, craving certain foods is thought to be related to seeking out what your pregnancy needs. But at certain stages of your life your nutritional requirements cannot be met through nutrition alone, which is why specific vitamins and minerals during pregnancy are necessary to supplement.

Your baby will take what he/she needs and then leave the rest for you. This is certainly true of energy and the same goes for nutritional requirements. However, as part of your prenatal care, your doctor will want to insure that you’re getting enough of the following vitamins and minerals to support best possible pregnancy for and your baby.

Folic Acid during Pregnancy

Women who may become pregnant or who are in the 1st trimester of pregnancy should consume adequate folic acid. Folic acid during pregnancy has been long-proven to protect the developing baby from neural tube defects (such as spina bifida) during brain and spinal cord development. Over-the-counter vitamins don’t have enough folic acid, but the prescription vitamins do (1 mg.).

Iron during Pregnancy

Iron helps deliver oxygen to your red blood cells.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends you receive 27 total mg of iron a day between your prenatal vitamin and good food sources such as whole grain products, lean beef and pork, dried fruit and beans, sardines and green leafy vegetables.

Calcium during Pregnancy

Supplemental calcium may reduce the risk of gestational hypertension and preeclampsia, though confirmatory large trials are needed.1 Calcium is vital to build strong bones and teeth, but it also allows the blood to clot normally, nerves to function properly, and the heart to beat normally. ACOG recommends 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day for pregnant and lactating women. While dairy products are the best source of calcium, dark, leafy greens, fortified cereal, breads, fish, fortified orange juices, almonds and sesame seeds also provide much needed calcium.

Vitamin D and Pregnancy

Combined with calcium, vitamin D is important for your baby’s bone and teeth development. Since your baby is shielded from that great Vitamin D producer in the sky (our Sun), good sources are fortified milk and fatty fish such as salmon. While use of high-dose vitamin D supplements during pregnancy warrants further study2, ACOG recommends that all women, including those who are pregnant, take in 600 international units of vitamin D daily.

The Value of Prenatal Vitamins

Although most of your nutrients should come from the foods you eat, your healthcare provider will recommend that you start taking a prenatal vitamin supplement before pregnancy, if possible, as they contain all the recommended daily vitamins and minerals during pregnancy. The prenatal vitamins made by big companies have been fine-tuned by the literature as well as by liability, and it is in their best business interests to make a great product, so such prenatal multivitamins are a better choice than cherry-picking ingredients piecemeal at a health food store. When it comes to a healthy pregnancy, your healthcare provider will be the best source of information and will be able to educate you on what supplemental vitamins and minerals your body will need during pregnancy.

About the Connecticut OBGYN Practice

Dr. John Garofalo, M.D., is an OBGYN located in Fairfield County, Connecticut, providing care for Norwalk, Darien, New Canaan, Weston, Rowaytan and the surrounding areas. He has more than 20 years of practice and surgical experience covering many facets of obstetrics and gynecology.

Laury Berkwitt, APRN, is a nurse practitioner specializing in women’s health in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Laury has a passion for providing quality women’s healthcare in a safe and comfortable manner by creating a trusting patient-practitioner relationship. She has been in practice for more than 10 years, caring for women of all ages.

For more information, go to www.garofaloobyn.com. John Garofalo, M.D., and Laury Berkwitt, APRN, can be reached for personal consultations by calling 203.803.1098.


1,2 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2672264  March 2018