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    Vitamins and Minerals

    Building Healthy Bones

    Calcium is the key to building healthy bones and teeth – both for you and your baby. Foods that have a lot of calcium are milk, cheese, yoghurt, fortified soya milks and fortified orange juice. Take three portions of these foods every day. If you are having twins or more, take up to 5 portions daily.

    You also need vitamin D to absorb the calcium from your diet. Vitamin D may also help support your immune system and general health. The best sources of vitamin D are oily fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel, vitamin D fortified milk, fortified margarines and some breakfast cereals. If you do not take vitamin D-rich foods, ask the dietitian if you need a supplement.

    One portion of calcium rich food is:
    200 ml fortified milk, 30 g cheese, 125 g yoghurt, 200 ml calcium fortified soya milk, 45g tinned sardines (eaten with the small, soft bones)

    Folic Acid

    Folic acid helps to prevent spina bifida and other neural tube defects in your baby. The baby’s spine develops very early in pregnancy, even before you may realise you are pregnant, so it is important to start taking folic acid before you become pregnant – ideally at least three months before each pregnancy.

    If you didn’t take folic acid before your pregnancy, you should start to take it straight away and continue to take it until you are 12 weeks pregnant. Include folate rich foods in your diet every day, like green leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals, beans and citrus fruits.

    You can buy folic acid tablets over the counter from your pharmacist. If you are on medication for a condition such as epilepsy, it is important to talk to your GP about how much folic acid to take. Some types of medication work against folic acid and you might need to take a higher amount. Tell your doctor or midwife about all medicines and supplements you are taking to be sure they are safe for pregnant women.

    Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Iodine

    Some types of fish contain too much mercury or other toxins that may be harmful to your baby. Do not eat shark, marlin, ray or swordfish. Only eat one tuna steak or two cans (each of 140 g drained weight) of tuna in a week. This also applies if you are breastfeeding.

    Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, are important for your heart health and for baby’s brain, eyes and nervous system development. You can meet your needs for these essential fats by taking oil-rich fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring twice weekly.

    Fish and seafood also provide protein and iodine for baby’s development and are important for a balanced diet. Aim to take a variety of fish and seafood a few times a week. If you do not eat fish, take a complete vitamin and mineral supplement made for pregnancy that contains iodine and omega-3s.


    in Healthy Eating