Vitamins and Nutrition During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a delicate period that calls for an expectant mum to observe care and proper nutrition in order to have a healthy baby.

When it comes to nutrition for the pregnant mum, it is required that she eats a balanced diet containing carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins.

Vitamins are considered essential nutrients that play a key role in the human body.

Importance of Vitamins

  • They help boost your immunity.
  • They strengthen the bones.
  • They help to improve your eyesight
  • They assist you in obtaining energy from food.

Here are the essential vitamins for pregnant mums and their functions:

  • Iron

Pregnancy can deplete a mother’s iron stores, hence it is important to have a proper intake and sometimes supplement of iron to help build and maintain these stores.

Low levels of iron during the first trimester could lead to premature birth and low birth weight.

Pregnant mums require about 27mg of iron per day.

Sources of foods rich in iron include:

  • Red meat
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Iron-enriched breakfast cereals
  • Folate

Folate, a type of Vitamin B, is important for pregnant mums as it can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine, heart and mouth defects such as cleft lip or palate.

During pregnancy, 600 micrograms of folate is required.

Foods that provide folate include:

  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale
  • Broccoli
  • Legumes such as lentils, peas and beans
  • Orange juice
  • Avocado
  • Iodine

The developing baby in the womb, babies and young children are at greatest risk from a diet deficient in iodine; hence it is important for every expectant mum to eat a diet rich in iodine.

Foods rich in iodine include:

  • Sea food
  • Dairy products such as milk and yoghurt
  • Iodized salt
  • Eggs
  • Zinc

It is a component of various enzymes that are important for the rapid cell growth that occurs during pregnancy. One requires an average of 9mg of zinc per day.

Sources of foods rich in zinc include:

  • Meat
  • Wholegrain cereals
  • Milk
  • Legumes and nuts
  • Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, a mineral that helps your baby’s bones, teeth, heart muscles and nerves develop.

A daily intake of 600 and 2,000 units of vitamin D is recommended.

Foods that provide Vitamin D include:

  • Cod liver oil
  • Oily fish such as trout
  • Mushrooms
  • Pork 
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products such as butter, milk and yoghurt

Vitamin D can also be produced when one is exposed to the sun.

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is essential for tissue repair, wound healing, bone growth and healthy skin.

The recommended daily amount of Vitamin C for pregnant mums is 85 milligrams per day.

Sources of foods rich in Vitamin C include:

  • Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Peas
  • Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemon and grapes

Talk to your doctor about multivitamin supplements to see if they can be of benefit to you during your pregnancy.

  • Calcium

Calcium is an important component for the growth of your baby’s bones and teeth.

The recommended intake of calcium in pregnant women per day is 1000mg.

Foods rich in calcium include:

  • Dairy products such as milk
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Bread
  • Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli
  • Fibre and fluids

Some women experience constipation, especially during the later stages of pregnancy. Therefore, a diet rich in high fibre combined with plenty of fluids is recommended to prevent this.

Foods rich in high fibre include:

  • Wholegrain bread and cereal products
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Vegetables and fruits


# Please note that development differs from one child to another. 

# Content intended for educational purposes only, and not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.

Be careful when using any products mentioned on this website. We hold no regulations for such products or their providers.

Last reviewed March 2019

Sources: bellamysorganic, bellamysorganic, americanpregnancy, myvmc

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