Should I take a vitamin supplement while pregnant? And what vitamins are safe for me and baby?

By Kaz Cooke
From the latest edition
of Up the Duff

Should I take a vitamin supplement while pregnant? And what vitamins are safe for me and baby?

The nutrients you get in fresh food are always better value than the ones in tablets or capsules, but taking prescribed vitamin and mineral supplements during pregnancy can be a good way of improving your intake if your diet isn’t perfect; and for some important nutrients, taking a supplement is essential to make sure you’re getting the right levels. Early routine blood tests can identify pre-existing deficiencies in, say, iron, vitamin B12, folate and vitamin D.

Don’t assume that a vitamin or mineral supplement is safe. Remember to talk to your doctor before taking anything prescribed for you by somebody else or anything that you’ve bought independently.

Usually the easiest and best way to take supplements is as a daily vitamin-and-mineral complex especially designed for pregnancy, started if possible three months before trying to conceive to build up useful levels of certain goodies. The Getting Ready section in Up the Duff explains.

A pregnancy supplement should be enough on its own unless a medical professional advises other supplements individually for you. You shouldn’t take, for example, an additional ‘stress multivitamin’ as well as a pregnancy multi-supplement. And follow the pregnancy vitamin dose recommendations – more doesn’t mean better. Choose from one of the well-known brands: these companies have researched important factors such as extra components to make the crucial pregnancy vitamins and minerals better absorbed by the body, and keep abreast of research.

There’s more about why to avoid high doses of some vitamins, and which supplements to avoid, in the book Up the Duff: The Real Guide to Pregnancy.