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Pregnancy Vitamins

Pregnancy Vitamins
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A healthy, balance diet is important all year round but especially when you’re pregnant. However, there are a number of vitamins that we would advise taking before and while pregnant. Many of our colleagues at LloydsPharmacy have experienced the journey of pregnancy themselves, so we know how important it is to not only have the correct information but also fully understand why these vitamins or minerals are needed.

Folic Acid

What is Folic Acid?

Folic acid, also known as folate, is part of the Vitamin B family. It is needed to make DNA and other genetic material as well as help the body’s cells to divide. Folic acid is an important vitamin for unborn babies as it helps nervous system development. If you are planning on getting pregnancy, we recommend taking folic acid in the months leading up to trying, as well in the first three months of pregnancy.

What is the benefit to my baby?

At the very early stages of pregnancy the neural tube (which later becomes the baby’s brain and spinal cord) closes and fuses. If a mother doesn’t have enough folic acid in their body before getting pregnant, or in the early stages of pregnancy, it can cause neural tube defects, for example spina bifida. Although not all neural tube defects can be prevented, folic acid is very beneficial.

Although folic acid can be found in a variety of food including bananas, oranges, brown rice and green leafy vegetables, ensuring you get the recommended amount (400mg daily) can be difficult so we recommend taking a supplement. Speak with your local LloydsPharmacy pharmacist about what folic acid supplement they would recommend for you.


What is Calcium?

Calcium is an important mineral for healthy bones and teeth. Along with Vitamin D it helps to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. 

What is the benefit to me and my baby?

Not only will calcium help with your baby’s bones and teeth but ensuring you have a sufficient amount of calcium before and during early pregnancy may reduce the risk or severity of pre-eclampsia. Pre-eclampsia occurs when there is a problem with the placenta and normally occurs when you are at least 20 weeks pregnant. As a result, the mother can develop:

  • High blood pressure
  • Protein in her urine
  • Fluid retention

Ensuring you eat 3 servings of milk, cheese or yoghurt a day will help maintain your calcium levels. If you don’t feel you are getting enough, speak with your local LloydsPharmacy pharmacist about what calcium supplement they would recommend for you.

Vitamin D 

What is Vitamin D?

Also known as the ‘Sunshine Vitamin’, Vitamin D helps use calcium so we can build and maintain strong bones and teeth. The body produces Vitamin D as a response to sun exposure, which in Ireland we get very little of.

What is the benefit to my baby?

Vitamin D is important for children from birth as low levels of this vitamin can lead to weak bones and in extreme cases can cause rickets in children. The condition leads to soft bones which can cause severe bone deformities such as bowed legs and spine curves.

Since babies skin is too sensitive to be exposed to the sun, we need to ensure they get the vitamin from another source. If your baby is breastfed or taking less then 300mls of formula a day, we recommend giving them a Vitamin D supplement to ensure they are getting their daily requirements (5mcg daily). If they are taking more then 300mls of formula they will be getting the recommended requirements. Speak with your local LloydsPharmacy pharmacist about what the best Vitamin D supplement would be for your baby. 


What is Iron?

Iron is used to make haemoglobin, which is a protein found in our red blood cells. Haemoglobin carries oxygen around our body. Iron can be found in red meats like beef, lamb, mutton and pork, as well as eggs, green leafy vegetables, pulses and fortified breakfast cereals.

What is the benefit to me and my baby?

When you become pregnant your body needs to supply blood and oxygen to the baby also. This means more iron is needed to keep up with the increase in blood supply. In fact, women require twice as much iron when pregnant (27mg daily). According to the HSE one in every three pregnant women have Iron Deficiency Anaemia.

Low iron levels can lead to:

  • Tiredness
  • Light-headedness
  • Irritability
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Poor concentration
  • Hair loss
  • Postnatal depression 

Low levels of iron can also cause your baby to be a low birth weight or suffer early (preterm) delivery problems with brain development and growth.

Vitamin C and Iron?

Vitamin C can help your body absorb iron so it’s important to include this in your diet. If your iron levels are low your doctor may recommend a vitamin C supplement to help.

Speak with your local LloydsPharmacy pharmacist about what iron and vitamin C supplement they would recommend for you.


What is Omega-3?

Omega-3 is a fatty acid that can be sourced through oily fish, white fish and some vegetable oils.

What is the benefit to me and my baby?

Omega-3 is important role in your baby’s rapidly developing brain, as well as their nervous system, and eyes. Studies have also shown that omega-3 can help fight prenatal depression. 

If you don’t feel that you’re getting enough Omega-3 (1 to 2 portions of oily fish a week) then speak with your local LloydsPharmacy pharmacist about what Omega-3 supplement they would recommend for you.