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Vitamin supplementation and nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding

02 October 2015
Volume 23 · Issue 10


A healthy diet around pregnancy and breastfeeding, which provides adequate nutrients for the mother and her developing baby, is important to ensure optimal health for both. Suboptimal nutrient intakes—or intakes that are too high—can have a detrimental impact on the mother and her infant in both the short and long term. Even with a healthy diet, supplementation of some vitamins is recommended to meet requirements. This article discusses key vitamins required around the time of pregnancy and during breastfeeding—folate and vitamins A, B and D—exploring how adequate intake can be ensured.

The developing baby in the womb is completely dependent on its mother for its nutrient supply, so the quality of the maternal diet is extremely important. During pregnancy, increased intake is required of several nutrients, such as vitamins A, B1, B2, C and D and folate (Table 1). Women's absorption of certain nutrients increases during pregnancy, which can help achieve adequate nutrient levels (Department of Health (DH), 1991). Despite this, the dietary intake and/or stores of key nutrients (e.g. vitamin D) are often found to be low in pregnant women (McAree et al, 2013). Supplements of folic acid and vitamin D are recommended around pregnancy, as diet alone is unlikely to be able to provide a sufficient supply (DH, 1991).

LRNI–lower reference nutrient intake

Bates et al, 2014;

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