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What supplements should I take during pregnancy?

Monday 14 August 2017

A pregnant woman sits on the side of the bed, holding a bottle of vitamins.
There are some supplements that pregnant women should take before and during pregnancy.

Once you get pregnant, you’re likely to be bombarded with advice from everyone you know (and possibly strangers on the street!). From what you should eat and drink, to what to expect from pregnancy and birth, or what products to buy and what to run from – chances are there is a lot of well-meaning but overwhelming advice coming your way.

One thing that expecting mothers might hear about is supplements. Below, we’ve listed the supplements pregnant women should be taking during pregnancy and why.

Folic acid/folate

Folic acid, or folate, prevents the risk of your baby being born with a neural tube defect, like spina bifida. Ideally, women should take folic acid from before they plan to become pregnant, right through the first trimester.

What to take: folic acid/folate tablets which contain at least 400 micrograms, every day, from 12 weeks before conception to the end of the first trimester (first 12 weeks, or three months, of pregnancy). Consult with your doctor.

Iodine

Iodine is essential for your baby’s brain development and nervous system. Women should take iodine supplements, and eat iodine rich foods like seafood, iodine fortified bread and iodised table salt, throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

What to take: iodine supplements which contain 150 micrograms, every day, from 3 months before and throughout pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Consult with your doctor.

Iron

Your body requires increased iron during pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about checking your iron levels, and eat plenty of iron rich foods while you are pregnant. Foods with vitamin C will help your body absorb iron.

What to take: eat plenty of iron rich foods, like red meat, poultry, tofu and iron-fortified cereals, plus food high in vitamin C, like oranges, kiwi fruit, capsicum and broccoli. Consult with your doctor.

A pregnant woman stands in the kitchen, bench covered in vegetables and fruit, eating a yoghurt.

Other supplements

Pregnant women should aim to get as many needed nutrients from their diet as possible, and talk to their doctor before adding any other supplements to their routine. Try to eat a varied diet of nutritious foods from all five food groups – find more tips about healthy eating during pregnancy in our blogs 'Is it true I can eat for two during pregnancy?' and 'How much weight should I gain during pregnancy?'.

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Last updated: 9 April 2019