Important Vitamins and Minerals for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding


Key Questions Answered Here:

  1. Is sushi during pregnancy safe? Beware of fish with high mercury content, including white tuna.
  2. What do pre-natal vitamins do? Provide high levels of folic acid, iron, and other nutrients that are essential to fetal development.
  3. Are pre-natal vitamins safe for men? Non-pregnant women? The added nutrients in pre-natal vitamins can significantly exceed the daily value for compounds like iron for average humans. They should only be used for their intended purposes.

What’s the difference between a multivitamin and a pre-natal vitamin?

Women that are pregnant, considering pregnancy, or breastfeeding need their usual vitamin intake, but also should be considering supplementing their diets with top vitamins and minerals necessary for early fetal development, such as Folic Acid, Iron, and Zinc. Also, vitamin and mineral overdose is more risky in these scenarios, so speak to your obstetrician, doctor, and/or other health professional before starting a vitamin of any kind.

The following are three top compounds that are often recommended to expecting mothers and two more to monitor in your diet against overuse:

Consider increasing:

Folic Acid (Vitamin B-9): The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends that women who are considering becoming pregnant prepare their bodies with supplemental folic acid, up to 400 micrograms (mcg) per day in addition to normal food diets.

Iron: The HHS and many health professionals recommend the use of an iron supplement both before and during pregnancy. Women require more than double the daily value of iron (18 mg/day) than men (8 mg/day) under normal conditions, and during pregnancy, that daily value increases to 27 mg/day for women, according to the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).

Zinc: An important mineral for proper growth and development in fetuses and infants. Zinc is also an essential nutrient for immune system functionality. The ODS recommends increasing Zinc intake from 8 mg/day to 11-13 mg/day, likely from an altered diet or pre-natal multivitamin.

Consider decreasing:

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, which leads to greater risk of overdose side effects in all humans. This overuse can have a detrimental effect on fetal development, so it is even more important for expecting mothers to guard against this issue.

Mercury: Many health professionals, including the HHS, recommend supplementing your diet with “8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week from a variety of seafood types.” However, some seafood varieties, including white tuna, swordfish, and king mackerel, contain higher levels of mercury, which is connected to fetal brain damage and developmental issues.