Vitamins A, C and D are essential vitamins for our diets and can help to ensure that our bodies function correctly. Here, The Portland Hospital’s Specialist Dietitian, Ghazala Yousuf, tells us what vitamins are vital during pregnancy and why pregnant women should closely monitor their vitamin A intake.
Can I take vitamin supplements during pregnancy?
Supplements aren’t meant to be a substitute for a healthy diet, but they can help to make sure your baby’s not missing out on the nutrients he or she needs. Pregnant women can get vitamin supplements for free on prescription from UK Health Departments and it is recommended that all pregnant and women who are breastfeeding take a daily supplement that contains 10 micrograms of vitamin D.
‘Healthy Start vitamins’ are also available. These are specifically made for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and contain folic acid and vitamins C and D.
Should I avoid foods containing vitamin A during my pregnancy?
Vitamin A during pregnancy is essential for the development of bones, skin, eyes, teeth and the immune system, and should not be avoided. This said, high levels of vitamin A can potentially be toxic to your developing baby and can increase the risk of miscarriage and congenital malformations.
For this reason supplements containing vitamin A are not advised along with foods high in vitamin A such as pâté, fish liver oils and liver products. Safe sources of vitamin A include dairy, eggs, green leafy vegetables and mangoes.
Why is vitamin D important during pregnancy?
Vitamin D is important as it can help to protect your child from developing bone deformations such as rickets. It can also help control the amount of calcium and phosphate in your body, which is needed to keep your bones and teeth healthy.
Vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency is common among pregnant women. As much as 50% of the UK’s Caucasian population and 90% of ethnic minorities are said to be vitamin deficient, but taking the recommended 10mg vitamin D supplement each day can help to boost vitamin D levels.
How can I increase my vitamin D intake during pregnancy?
It is incredibly important that you increase your vitamin D intake during pregnancy and current guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence states that pregnant women should take a 10mg tablet of vitamin D every day of their pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
In addition to taking the recommended 10mg vitamin D supplement daily you can help to boost your vitamin D levels through exposure to sunlight and consumption of oily fish, eggs, meats and fortified breakfast cereals.
Can I increase my vitamin C intake without supplements?
Vitamin C cannot be stored in the body so you should try to consume some form of vitamin C every day and this can be easily achieved by diet alone. This is because vitamin C is found in lots of foods, including peppers, broccoli, oranges, kiwifruit and sweet potatoes.
Try to aim for 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day which can help your body to maintain the healthy tissues that are needed for iron absorption, wound healing and collagen synthesis.
If you have any questions or concerns about important vitamins and minerals during pregnancy please contact our Maternity Services Enquiry Line on 020 7390 6068 and book an appointment with one of our specialist dietitians.