Vitamins and minerals

A balanced, healthy diet is important if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Although all vitamins and minerals are important to give a balanced diet, it is important to make sure you are getting enough iron and vitamins A, C and D. Your body needs time to build up iron throughout your pregnancy.


Pregnant women can have low levels of iron so it’s important to make sure you have plenty of iron-rich foods such as

  • meat
  • eggs
  • pulses (such as beans, peas or lentils)
  • wholegrain bread
  • dark green vegetables. 

The best way for your body to absorb iron is from the food you eat. Avoid drinking tea or coffee with meals, as this can reduce iron absorption. 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed to keep bones and teeth healthy. It’s particularly important in preventing newborn babies from getting rickets. You should take supplements containing 10mcg of vitamin D every day.

Vitamin D is found in a few foods such as oily fish, eggs, margarine and fortified breakfast cereals, but we get most of it from being outdoors and in the sun (though that is not an excuse to get sunburnt!). However, it is not possible to get enough vitamin D from food alone, and in Scotland there is not enough sunlight from November to April, so you should take vitamin D throughout your pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding. If you have dark skin, or cover your skin, you are particularly susceptible to vitamin D deficiency and should speak to your midwife or GP to get a suitable supplement. During pregnancy you will get them free. After your pregnancy you can buy vitamin supplements from most supermarkets and pharmacies.

Vitamin A

Make sure you don’t have too much vitamin A. This means you should avoid eating liver products such as pâté,  and avoid taking supplements containing vitamin A or fish liver oils (which contain high levels of vitamin A). You need some Vitamin A, but having too much means that levels could build up and may harm your unborn baby. Ask your midwife for want more information. You can also read more on What foods to avoid.

Vitamin support - Healthy Start

You are entitled to free vitamins, including folic acid, during your pregnancy. With Healthy Start you can also get free vouchers for some food. You can ask your midwife for more information or visit

Last Updated: 06 February 2018
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