A study of more than 2,000 women conducted at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute found that many had below recommended daily intake (RDI) levels of folate (folic acid), iron and zinc before and during their pregnancy. Before and during pregnancy up to 46 % of women had below recommended intake of folate, up to 82 % of iron and up to 36 % of zinc.
Vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) are essential for the body to function. Micronutrients occur naturally in the food we eat but can also be taken as supplements in tablet form. There are national RDI levels for micronutrients and for most people who eat a variety of healthy unprocessed food there is no need to take supplements. But for women trying to conceive, the risk of birth defects can be reduced by supplementing their diet with certain micronutrients. Some micronutrients may also help improve fertility.
The authors of the study concluded that more public health education about nutritional needs before and during pregnancy is needed to make sure women and their babies are as healthy as possible.
More information about the importance of micronutrients for pregnancy health is available here.
Read the Livock M, Anderson PJ, Lewis S, Bowden S, Muggli E, Halliday J. study, Maternal micronutrient consumption periconceptionally and during pregnancy: a prospective cohort study found in Public Health Nutrition 2017;20: 294-304 here.