There are 13 important vitamins, namely vitamins A, C, D, E, K and vitamin B series. These vitamins are essential for growth and development. Most of these vitamins are derived from diet except vitamin D, which is obtained from sunlight exposure.
- This vitamin is recommended for pregnant women to prevent the risk of spina bifida in the newborn. The recommended dose is 400 microgram daily. It is ideally taken 4months prior to pregnancy and continued to at least 3 months of pregnancy. Otherwise, commence folic acid as soon as you realize you are pregnant.
- A higher dosage of folic acid is needed in special circumstances. This includes a previous pregnancy affected by spina bifida, family history of spina bifida, on anti-epileptic medications, maternal BMI of 30 or more and history of thalassemia.
- All pregnant women are advised to take a daily dose of 10 micrograms of vitamin D when pregnant and breastfeeding. It is common among people the western world to have low vitamin D, however, there is no data available locally. The risk factors for low vitamin D are if you stay indoor a lot, BMI of 30 or more and family origin from South Asia, Africa or Middle East.
- Diets that are rich in Vitamin D include eggs, meat, vitamin D fortified margarine and breakfast cereals.
Vitamins that are not recommended
There are many multivitamin tablets in the market that containa small amount of lots of vitamins. These are safe to take but large doses are to be avoided.
During pregnancy, avoid any supplements containing more than 700 microgram of vitamin A and avoid food such as liver, liver product or fish liver oil.
There is no need for additional vitamin B, C or E. The intake of vitamin C may help iron absorption, especially in women with risk of anemia.
There is no evidence that expensive brands are any better than cheaper ones.