Vitamin Supplements

When pregnant, you'll need more of these nutrients than most people.
Prenatal supplements are made just for pregnant women and have more folic acid and iron than normal adult multivitamins.

You'll need

  • Folic acid: a total of 800 micrograms (mcg) a day - 200 mcg more than normal
  • Iron: close to 50 percent more each day to make blood for your baby
  • Calcium: 1000 milligrams (mg) daily to stop bone loss


Taking folic acid and a B vitamin greatly lowers the chance that your baby will be born with spinal bifida or other linked problems. Be sure to talk to your doctor before you start taking any vitamins.

If I take a vitamin, do I still have to think about my diet? Yes, you will have to think about your diet because:

  • Taking a vitamin doesn't mean you're getting all you need
  • Most prenatal supplements only have 15 to 25% of the daily value of calcium
  • You may still need to make up the other 75 to 85% with food that is rich in calcium, such as milk, yogurt, broccoli, lentils and spinach - or by taking extra calcium

You can't get all you need from supplements. You need balanced meals, with at least five to six cups of fruits and veggies a day and as many whole grain foods as you can.

What's in vitamins?

Besides iron, calcium and folic acid, they often contain:

  • Vitamins A, C, D and E
  • Other B vitamins including thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), pantothenic acids (B5), B6 and niacin (B12)
  • Minerals that you need like copper, magnesium, selenium and zinc

Be sure to talk to your doctor before you start taking any vitamins.

Does it matter how I take vitamins?

  • Read and follow what it says on the bottle
  • Take iron supplements between meals so your body can soak it up better
  • Taking extra iron may cause constipation, so be sure to drink a lot of water throughout the day
  • Caffeine makes it hard for your body to use iron and calcium, so don't drink tea or coffee before or after you take your pill
  • Taking your pills with milk isn't a great idea either because it makes it hard for your body to use the iron and zinc - juice or water is best

What if I can't take a vitamin?

If you're having trouble keeping your pill down, try:

  • A chewable tablet or liquid form if you can't swallow large pills
  • Taking it at other times of the day

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