Nutritional supplements for pregnant: Need to prepare before pregnancy

Maternal nutrition during pregnancy plays an important role in the development of both the fetus and mom’s health.

Regarding the development of the fetus:

Mom’s nutrition during pregnancy is most clearly related to the child’s weight at birth, some birth defects, intellectual development and some other factors, chronic non-communicable diseases of children in adulthood.

For mom’s health:

Good nutrition during pregnancy helps gain appropriate weight, contributes to limiting some obstetric complications, increases the ability to produce milk after giving birth, and reduces the risk of some diseases for mom and some common problems during pregnancy such as nausea, constipation, cramps, etc. During breastfeeding, mom’s nutrition plays a role in helping produce enough milk for breastfeeding and ensuring her own health to recover her body after giving birth, raise her child and continue working.

Therefore, to have a complete pregnancy with enough nutrients for both mom and baby, planning nutritional supplements for preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding periods is extremely necessary. Essential nutrients that need to be supplemented during this period include: multi-nutrient group (protein, lipid, glucid); group of micronutrients (minerals and vitamins); water along with the three main electrolytes (sodium, potassium and chlorine). The need for the above nutrients will generally increase when entering the pre-pregnancy period, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so adequate supplementation of the above nutrients is necessary. However, at each stage, the need for specific nutrients will increase and require additional attention. For example, before getting pregnant, special attention should be paid to supplementing folate and iron (maintained until at least 1 month after giving birth). During pregnancy, from the second trimester of pregnancy, special attention should be paid to supplementing calcium and zinc; During the last 3 months of pregnancy, in addition to increasing the need for calcium, you need to pay attention to adding protein and fat (lipid). During the breastfeeding period, special attention should be paid to supplementing calcium, fat, and water.

The specific roles of essential nutrients during pregnancy and breastfeeding are as follows:

Protein: basic component of living matter, participating in the formation of cells, hormones, enzymes (enzymes), antibody production, etc. This is a nutrient that helps build and develop the fetus.

Lipids (fats): participate in the process of formation and brain development of the fetus and ensure the quality of breast milk.

Glucid (powder): the main source of energy, shaping and regulating the body’s activities. Fiber: has no nutritional value but is considered a functional food, helping to reduce constipation, alleviate signs of morning sickness, and absorb some substances harmful to health.

Calcium: necessary for metabolic processes in the body, creating bones for the fetus and providing calcium in breast milk excretion.

Iron: creates hemoglobin (blood), transports oxygen and carbon dioxide, and is a component of redox enzymes.

Zinc: participates in the production of insulin (helps regulate blood sugar) and enzymes, forms organizations and helps the body metabolize energy.

Iodine: is an essential component of thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency clearly affects growth and brain development. However, too much iodine supplementation by the mother can cause fetal goiter.

Vitamin A: protects eyes, increases resistance, creates bones for children to help them reach their maximum potential height.

Vitamin D: helps the body use calcium and phosphorus well to create and maintain strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can easily cause consequences such as rickets in the mother’s womb.

Vitamin E: anti-oxidant, helps prevent cancer, cataracts, helps development and reproduction.

Vitamin K: participates in the blood clotting process, vitamin K deficiency causes bleeding in young children.

Vitamin B1 (thiamin): participates in glucose and energy metabolism.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): participates in converting food into energy, necessary for eyes, skin, nails, and hair.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxyl): creates many enzymes involved in amino acid and glycogen metabolism; The need increases when eating more protein.

Vitamin B9 (folate): participates in the development and division of all cell types.

Vitamin B12: creates energy, develops the nervous system, and supports body formation.

Vitamin C: creates collagen and protein for the body; it is an antioxidant that protects our body and fights infections.

Choline: creates structural integrity for cell membranes, neurotransmitters; without choline, body cells will die.

Specialist level 2 doctor. Nguyen Chi Thanh


1. National guidelines on nutrition for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers (Decision No. 776/QD-BYT dated March 8, 2017 of the Ministry of Health)

2. Nutrition in pregnancy: Dietary requirements and supplements – UpToDate. Accessed: Mar. 29, 2024.

3. Maternal nutrition during lactation – UpToDate. Accessed: Mar. 29, 2024.

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