Supplements in pregnancy

  • Roslynn Van Schoor


Although adequate nutrition is essential through all stages of life, it is undoubtedly the cornerstone of ensuring health during pregnancy. Pregnancy demands an increased nutrient intake as a result of the drastic changes the female body undergoes to provide for the growing foetus. Studies show that insufficient intake of micronutrients during pregnancy can cause harm to both the mother and child. There is also evidence to suggest that the preconceptual nutritional status of a woman can influence pregnancy outcome. For this reason, it is advised that women consume high levels of nutrient-dense foods before and during pregnancy, as well as throughout lactation. However, this is not always feasible, particularly in developing countries where prospective mothers may not have access to an abundance of high-quality foods. In order to maintain an optimal nutritional status during pregnancy, it has become common practice for women to take prenatal supplements. Although nutrient supplementation has the potential to improve pregnancy outcome, an excessive intake of certain vitamins and minerals can cause more harm than good.1,2