Health advice

Nutrition and supplements during pregnancy

Pregnant woman looking down at bump, drinking a cup of tea.

There are some nutrients you should be taking during pregnancy to ensure the health and development of your baby. Find out all you need to know about the nutrients and supplements you need to take.

Which supplements do I need during pregnancy?

When you’re pregnant, you and your unborn baby need certain nutrients. This supports the development of your baby and helps make sure you have a healthy pregnancy.1

Throughout your pregnancy, you should take a daily vitamin D supplement of 400iu. This will help your baby’s bones develop and help prevent diseases like rickets (soft and weak bones). Vitamin D also helps keep your bones and teeth healthy.1

If you have darker skin, you may struggle to make enough vitamin D from sunlight.2 This means your baby is at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency if you don’t supplement vitamin D during pregnancy.3 So taking vitamin D tablets while pregnant is especially important if you are African, Asian or Caribbean descent.

You also need to take 400mcg folic acid tablets from when you start trying to get pregnant, up until 12 weeks of pregnancy. This lowers your baby’s risk of birth defects like spina bifida.1 Spina bifida is a condition where the spinal cord doesn’t develop properly, and it can cause a wide range of symptoms.

Some women may be prescribed higher doses if they are particularly at risk. This includes people who are very deficient in the vitamin like people who are taking epilepsy medications.

You can get supplements from your local pharmacy or ask for a prescription from your GP. If you’re struggling to afford supplements or healthy food during pregnancy, you may be able to get help with the Healthy Start scheme.

Are there any vitamins I should avoid during pregnancy?

You should avoid supplements that contain vitamin A, like cod liver oil, or some multivitamins. Also try to avoid foods containing high levels of vitamin A, like liver. Too much vitamin A can harm your baby.4

You don’t need to take a pregnancy multivitamin. If you eat a balanced diet and supplement the nutrients you need like vitamin d and folic acid, you can get everything you need for you and your baby, without the extra cost of multivitamins.5

Buy supplements online with Well

Find the best supplements for a healthy, happy pregnancy.

Husband and wife browsing for vitamins
What does a balanced diet during pregnancy look like?

A balanced diet in pregnancy looks a lot like a balanced diet at any other time. But there are some things you need to look out for.

When you’re pregnant, you need to make sure you’re getting enough iron, vitamin C and calcium.1

Iron can be found in foods such as:

  • Leafy greens, like spinach and kale
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Red meat
  • Fortified breakfast cereal
  • Dried apricots.6

Vitamin C can be found in foods like:

  • Citrus fruits, like oranges and limes
  • Potatoes
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Brussels sprouts.7

You can get calcium from:

  • Leafy greens
  • Tofu
  • Dairy products like milk, cheese and yoghurt
  • Fortified soy milk and yoghurt
  • Bread made with calcium-fortified flour.1

Many people think they need a lot of extra calories during pregnancy. This isn’t true — even during the last 3 months of pregnancy, you only need 200 extra calories.6 That’s about the same as 3 boiled eggs or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.

Are there any foods I should avoid during pregnancy

Some foods aren’t safe to eat because they can put your pregnancy or the health of your baby at risk.4

Some of these foods include:

  • Foods containing unpasteurised milk, like goat’s cheese
  • Soft blue cheese
  • Soft cheese with a white covering, like Brie
  • Undercooked or raw milk
  • Pâté
  • Game meat, like goose or pheasant
  • Raw or partially cooked eggs
  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Marlin
  • Raw shellfish
  • Smoked or cured fish.4

It’s not safe to drink any amount of alcohol while you’re pregnant. It can cause serious harm to your baby.9 If you’re struggling to cut down on alcohol, talk to your midwife or GP.

You shouldn’t consume more than 200mg of caffeine a day when you’re pregnant, as it can increase your risk of pregnancy complications. 200mg of caffeine is about the same as two cups of instant coffee.4

Visit your nearest pharmacy

Get support and advice from your local Well pharmacist

Woman waiting for a train.
Where can I go for further information and support?


National charity for pregnancy, childbirth and parenting with a helpline and local support groups.

NHS website

Information about pregnancy, including how to have a healthy pregnancy and manage common conditions.

NHS inform

Information and support if you live in Scotland.


Charity with information and support around health during pregnancy.

  1. Vitamins, minerals and supplements in pregnancy. Published December 2, 2020. Accessed August 8, 2023.
  2. Vitamins and minerals - Vitamin D. Published August 3, 2020. Accessed August 15, 2023.
  3. Uday S, Naseem S, Large J, et al. Failure of national antenatal vitamin D supplementation programme puts dark skinned infants at highest risk: A newborn bloodspot screening study. Clinical Nutrition. 2021;40(5):3542-3551. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2020.12.008
  4. Foods to avoid in pregnancy. Published December 2, 2020. Accessed August 8, 2023.
  5. Do I need to take pregnancy multivitamins? | Tommy’s. Accessed August 8, 2023.
  6. Vitamins and minerals - Iron. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed August 8, 2023.
  7. Vitamins and minerals - Vitamin C. Published October 23, 2017. Accessed August 8, 2023.
  8. Tommy’s. Your guide to a healthy diet in pregnancy. Published online May 2022. Accessed August 8, 2023.
  9. Drinking alcohol while pregnant. Published December 2, 2020. Accessed August 8, 2023.

Reviewed by: Connie Whewall

Published: 30 April 2024

Next review: 30 April 2027