Are Vitamin Needs Increased During Pregnancy

Vitamin needs are generally increased during pregnancy with special consideration for folate and vitamin D. Since the manufacturing of DNA requires folate, and the unborn infant is composed of rapidly reproducing cells, the need for extra folate is very important. The extra folate (50 percent above the nonpregnant RDA) also supports red blood cell formation as the mother's blood volume expands. A woman can increase her folate intake by choosing folate-rich foods such as orange juice and many fruits and vegetables.

Vitamin D is also especially important during pregnancy. A pregnant woman's RDA is the same as a nonpregnant woman, but good status is crucial. Vitamin D is necessary to aid in calcium metabolism and fetal bone formation. Regular sunlight exposure as well as choosing vitamin D-fortified milk and dairy products can help meet vitamin D requirements. However, excessive direct sunlight (or tanning beds) is not recommended during pregnancy because fetal tissue is very sensitive to damage by UV light.

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