Nutrition During Pregnancy - Topic Overview
Folic acid is a B vitamin. Taking folic acid before
and during early pregnancy reduces the chance of having a baby with a
neural tube defect or other birth defects.
- Women of childbearing age should get
0.4 mg (400 mcg) to 0.8 mg (800 mcg) of folic acid
from fortified food, supplements, or a mix of food plus supplements.2 This
amount is found in most once-a-day multivitamins.
- Women who are pregnant with twins or more should
take 1 mg (1000 mcg) of folic
- Women who have a family history
of neural tube defects, who have had a baby with a neural tube defect, or who
are on medicines for seizures should take additional folic acid: a daily dosage
of 4 mg (4000 mcg) of folic
acid is recommended. Do not try to reach this amount of folic acid by taking
more multivitamins, because you could get too much of the other substances that
are in the multivitamin.4
You will need twice
as much iron in your second and third
trimesters as you did before pregnancy. This extra
iron supports the extra blood in your system and helps with the growth of the
placenta and the fetus. Your iron requirements are slight during the
first trimester of pregnancy, and taking iron supplements in the first
trimester may aggravate
After the first
trimester, take a daily supplement containing
30 mg of iron (most prenatal vitamins include
iron). A woman with a multiple pregnancy is advised to take
60 mg to
100 mg of iron daily.3 Iron supplements can cause an upset stomach and
constipation. Taking your iron at bedtime may decrease the chance of stomach
upset. Your body absorbs iron best in small amounts when you eat it with
vitamin C, so you may want to take your iron throughout the day.
Calcium is needed for the
development of the fetus's skeleton. You can get enough calcium in your diet by
eating or drinking 4 servings from the dairy (milk) group each day. Good
sources of calcium from nonmilk sources include:
- Greens (such as mustard and turnip greens), bok
choy, kale, and watercress.
- Broccoli and
- Tofu that is "calcium-set."
- Corn tortillas
made with lime.
- Calcium-fortified orange juice.