Vitamins and Minerals in Pregnancy

In pregnancy, and later when breastfeeding, women need more calories, protein, and some vitamins and minerals to meet the needs of their growing baby. Most of these nutrients can come from your regular diet, but supplements may be needed for some nutrients that are commonly in short supply. The following chart shows how recommendations for some vitamins and minerals change in pregnancy and during breastfeeding.


Although recommendations are higher in pregnancy for magnesium, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin C, it's likely that as you increase the amount of food you eat you'll also get more of these nutrients (assuming you're eating a reasonably healthy diet). The RDA for iron in pregnancy is challenging for most women to meet from diet alone. Zinc can also be difficult, especially if you're relying mainly on beans and grains as zinc sources. Folate and iodine supplements are recommended in pregnancy. Vegan women need to use either fortified foods or a supplement to meet vitamin B12 needs.

Women who are pregnant should not take regular vitamins; they could be too low in some nutrients and too high in others. Ask your health care provider about special prenatal supplements, which contain the vitamins and minerals you will need during your pregnancy. Be sure to tell your health care provider about any vitamins you are already taking before adding a prenatal vitamin supplement.

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