Pregnancy Vitamins: Definition & Explanations

Schwangerschaftsvitamine: Definition & Erklärungen

Pregnancy is a special phase of life that many women are allowed to experience. The body of the expectant mother is changing and a new life is growing inside. Women want to make as few mistakes as possible and attach great importance to the healthy development of the child. The uncertainty is great and you want to offer the child all the necessary nutrients, which is why many women resort to pregnancy vitamins.

In our article about pregnancy vitamins, we have collected and clearly summarized all important information about the necessity, ingredients and side effects. You will then be informed about pregnancy vitamins and can decide for yourself whether you need them or not.

the essentials in brief

  • Pregnancy vitamins are dietary supplements for women. These can be taken to support the desire to have children, during pregnancy or after pregnancy while breastfeeding.
  • It is not necessary to take vitamins in every pregnancy, because almost all nutrients can be obtained from food. However, if you cannot ensure a healthy and balanced diet, you should counteract the nutrient deficiency by taking vitamins.
  • Pregnancy vitamins are often combined preparations that can cause side effects or increase the symptoms of pregnancy. In order to avoid overdoses, individual vitamin supplements can be used in this case.

Glossary entry: The term pregnancy vitamins explained in detail

In the following article we have summarized all the important information about pregnancy vitamins. However, you should consult your gynecologist before taking these vitamins.

What are pregnancy vitamins?

Pregnancy vitamins are dietary supplements for women that are designed to provide all the vitamins needed during pregnancy. There are pregnancy vitamins for women who want to have children, women who are pregnant, but also for mothers who are breastfeeding their newborn.

Women have increased nutritional needs before, during and after pregnancy. This can certainly be covered through food, but women often experience deficiency symptoms in this phase despite a balanced diet.

How important are pregnancy vitamins?

Many recommend that a balanced diet is particularly important during pregnancy. Some foods are discouraged while others are highly recommended. The reason for this is the increased need for vitamins during pregnancy. The mother not only has to take care of her own body, which does a lot of work during pregnancy, but also the growing child, which needs a lot of vitamins, minerals and other trace elements in this phase.

Pregnancy lasts 9 months and often longer. Unfortunately, in everyday life, it is not always possible to cover all nutrients through diet, so that many resort to pregnancy vitamins in this case. This is not always absolutely necessary.

It is only important that you consume enough folic acid in the first three months of pregnancy. The following foods contain a lot of folic acid:

  • cabbage
  • Spinach, green leafy vegetables
  • nuts
  • bananas

Since one often does not take in enough folic acid despite a balanced diet because the amounts in the food are too small, doctors often recommend supplementation.(1)

Iron and iodine are important throughout pregnancy and care should be taken to ensure that requirements are adequately met. The following foods are suitable for this.

  • IRON: Fish, poultry, red meat, green leafy vegetables
  • IOD: sea fish, iodized table salt, dairy products

Always talk to your doctor before taking pregnancy vitamins.

When can you take pregnancy vitamins?

If you want to have children and start planning a family, you can start supplementing with folic acid. Folic acid plays a role in all cell division and growth processes. In adults, anaemia, digestive disorders and changes in the mucous membranes occur as a result of folic acid deficiency.

Greater damage can occur in an unborn child. Even before the real pregnancy begins, premature embryos can suffer from a disruption of the neural tube and maldevelopment of the central nervous system. It is therefore recommended to supplement folic acid before the pregnancy is determined, since the most important developments in the embryo already take place up to the 4th week. Pregnancy is often only discovered later.

pregnant woman

Pregnancy is an exciting time for expectant parents. You are preparing for a new chapter in your life. The female body also changes completely and now supplies two organisms, so the need for nutrients is correspondingly higher. (Image source: Camylla Battani / unsplash)

As a rule, pregnancy vitamins are taken throughout pregnancy. Manufacturers also offer different products. There are vitamins that are divided into trimesters because you need different vitamins and dosages in each trimester. In any case, it is advisable to consult your gynecologist before taking pregnancy vitamins.(5)

There are also vitamins that are recommended especially after pregnancy, i.e. for breastfeeding.

The vitamin B and vitamin C requirements of women increase during breastfeeding. But it is also true: with a healthy, balanced diet, nothing needs to be supplemented. The vitamin can only be supplemented if deficiency symptoms occur or if the doctor diagnoses a deficiency. There are also vitamins specially designed for breastfeeding.

Which vitamins are important?

All the vitamins and minerals that we need to live, the female body needs twice as much during pregnancy. In order to ensure the healthy development of the unborn child, attention should be paid to the intake of the following vitamins during pregnancy.

vitamin/mineral/trace element Meaning
folic acid Is very important for the development of the embryo. Avoids malformations in the child and promotes healthy mental development.
iron Important for mother and child. Prevents tiredness and exhaustion in the mother, whose body performs enormously. Ensures an adequate blood supply to all organs in the child.
iodine Important for the development of the thyroid in the child and for the support of the thyroid in the mother. The thyroid regulates the hormones that play a central role in pregnancy.
calcium Important for the development of teeth and bones.
magnesium Mainly supports the mother's muscles during pregnancy.
phosphorus In combination with calcium it is important for the development of bones and teeth in children.

In addition, the usual vitamins, which are essential for every human being to maintain the immune system and vital metabolic processes, are even more important during pregnancy. These include B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin D.(3)

No general statement can be made about the dose of these vitamins. There are minimum needs that must be met, but these needs should be decided in consultation with the doctor.

The reason for this is the interrelationship between the vitamins and different pre-existing conditions. For example, anyone who has problems with the thyroid gland and takes thyroid hormones should be particularly careful when taking iodine. It is similar with other vitamins and minerals.

When are Pregnancy Vitamins Necessary?

Basically, pregnancy vitamins are not necessary if you can ensure a balanced, healthy diet. Often, however, this is not possible due to a stressful everyday life. Many women still work or have to take care of siblings, making everyday cooking difficult and many prefer to use ready meals or simple meals.

Even the initial nausea in the first three months, from which many women suffer, means that many women do not consider a healthy and balanced diet. Pregnant women are sensitive to many foods and smells and lose their appetite.

In order to still ensure an adequate supply of nutrients and not to impair the development of the child, many doctors and midwives recommend preventing this deficiency with pregnancy vitamins.

What side effects can pregnancy vitamins cause?

Every woman experiences pregnancy differently. You may experience nausea, constipation, weakness, and other limitations during pregnancy. Taking pregnancy vitamins can make these symptoms worse or even better if the cause was a nutrient deficiency.

Of course, side effects of a preparation cannot be ruled out. Nausea in particular is a common side effect of pregnancy vitamins. However, there are ways to prevent or reduce these side effects.

It is recommended to take the tablets at bedtime if morning sickness is particularly severe. Another way to counteract the side effects is to only take individual vitamins and avoid combination preparations.

In any case, pay attention to the recommendation of your doctor and describe your side effects in detail. Often, some symptoms may have other causes and are not side effects.

What alternatives are there to pregnancy vitamins?

As mentioned several times, a healthy diet is the basic requirement for a healthy pregnancy. Many foods contain all the necessary nutrients, so that supplemental intake of pregnancy vitamins is not necessary at all.

Make sure to eat the following food groups every day:

  1. Fruits and vegetables: Green leafy vegetables are particularly rich in folic acid and iron. Berries or pomegranate are particularly rich in vitamin K, calcium, folic acid, and iron.(4)
  2. Legumes: Peas, lentils, beans and other legumes are particularly rich in folic acid. In addition, they are good vegan protein suppliers.
  3. Whole grain products: High-quality carbohydrates that provide long-term energy. Also contain important fiber and support digestion during pregnancy.
  4. Animal foods: During pregnancy, women have an increased protein requirement, which can be well covered by animal products. Consumption of sea fish is strongly recommended as fish is a good source of omega-3, iodine and vitamin D.

Pregnancy can also be vegetarian or vegan, the only important thing is that the body is adequately supplied with all the necessary nutrients. Vegetarian or vegan pregnant women need to take B vitamins or omega 3 supplements more often.(2)


You shouldn't let the dramatic marketing of pregnancy vitamins unsettle you, but rather listen to how you feel in your body. In any case, you should have your blood values ​​checked and, in the event of a deficiency, only supplement this missing nutrient.

Vitamins such as folic acid, of which a lot is required during pregnancy but which is difficult to obtain from food in these quantities, are more frequently supplemented by pregnant women.

Many pregnancy vitamins have a harmless image and can even be bought in pharmacies without a prescription. Side effects can often occur when taking these preparations, which are not classified as such, but rather as a side effect of pregnancy. You should be able to differentiate here. A healthy diet can often increase your well-being during pregnancy in a natural way.


  1. Press report: Federal Institute for Risk Assessment dr Rolf Grossklaus
  2. An updated guide to nutrition and lifestyle before and during pregnancy.
  3. De‐Regil LM, Palacios C, Lombardo LK, Peña‐Rosas JP. Vitamin D supplementation for women during pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD008873.
  4. Pomegranate juice and punicalagin attenuate oxidative stress and apoptosis in human placenta and in human placental trophoblasts Baosheng Chen, Methodius G Tuuli, Mark S Longtine, Joong Sik Shin, Russell Lawrence, Terrie Inder, and D Michael Nelson American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism 2012
  5. Enlightening article with expert support from Dr. Doris Scharrel
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