Those who want to be proactive in ensuring their health and well-being during pregnancy should, apart from magnesium, also consider other essential substances such as folic acid or iron. An overview of the most important essential nutrients and where to find them.
Essential nutrients during pregnancy
During pregnancy, a sufficient supply of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, and other essential nutrients is especially important because each nutrient undertakes specific functions that are beneficial for the health of mother and child. Here you will find an overview of the most important essential nutrients, their functions, and tips for a sufficient intake.
Please note: in some cases a supplementary dose of an essential nutrient product from the pharmacy is recommended. As a general principle, these should only be taken after consulting your doctor or pharmacist.
Which essential nutrients are especially important during pregnancy?
The following essential nutrients play a central role during pregnancy:
Magnesium during pregnancy
The mineral magnesium plays an important role for the health of mother and child during pregnancy.
As your magnesium requirement increases during pregnancy due to increased magnesium excretion through the urine, at the beginning of a pregnancy many doctors will recommend taking a suitable magnesium product (e.g., Biolectra ® Magnesium 300 mg Direct ) in the form of a food supplement. In this way, it is possible to effectively prevent an insufficient magnesium intake and the possible consequences of this.
Find out more on the topic of magnesium during pregnancy here.
Characteristics of magnesium
What is magnesium?
A mineral that is particularly important for vital muscle function (“the muscle mineral”)
Magnesium requirement during pregnancy:*
310 mg per day
Support of cell division, for normal protein synthesis, for vital muscle function, to reduce fatigue and tiredness
Magnesium in foods:
Bananas, whole-grain products, peanuts, broccoli, dark chocolate, potatoes, pulses
* Recommendation of the German Nutrition Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung, DGE) for pregnant women aged 19 years and older.
Folic acid during pregnancy – it is best to take this from the time you start planning to have a baby
A sufficient supply of folate is extremely important during pregnancy because this B vitamin carries out numerous important functions. For example, it contributes to the growth of the mother’s tissue and to normal blood formation. Folate also plays a central role in mental well-being and the normal functioning of the immune system. Last but not least, folate plays a role in cell division and contributes to reducing fatigue and tiredness.
Characteristics of folic acid
What is folic acid?
A type of B vitamin (water-soluble)
Folic acid requirement during pregnancy:*
550 µg folate (or the equivalent)/day**
The growth of the mother’s tissue during pregnancy, normal blood formation, normal psychological function, normal functioning of the immune system, and for normal amino acid synthesis. In addition, folate contributes to the reduction of fatigue and tiredness and plays a role in cell division
Folic acid in foods:
Greens, whole-grain products, potatoes, pulses, milk products, nuts, eggs
* Recommendation of the German Nutrition Society, for pregnant women.
** Women who wish to, or could, become pregnant should, in addition to a folate-rich diet, take 400 µg of synthetic folic acid per day in the form of a product to prevent neural tube defects. This supplementary folic acid product should be taken from, at the latest, four weeks before the beginning of the pregnancy and be continued during the first trimester of the pregnancy.
1 µg folate equivalent = 0.5 µg synthetic folic acid.
Iodine during pregnancy
A sufficient supply of iodine is important for the mental and physical maturation of the child, as iodine, among other substances, contributes towards the normal functioning of the nervous system and to a normal energy metabolism. In addition, iodine supports the normal production of thyroid gland hormones and normal thyroid gland function. The recommended daily amount is 230 micrograms of iodine. Foods that are rich in iodine include ocean fish, iodine-treated table salt and foods prepared with it, as well as milk and milk products.
The problem: even with a balanced diet, it is hard to cover the increased folic acid and iodine requirement that you have during pregnancy. Therefore, taking supplementary folic acid and iodine is recommended.
Characteristics of iodine
What is iodine?
A trace element
Iodine requirement during pregnancy: *
230 µg per day
The normal functioning of the nervous system, the normal production of thyroid gland hormones, and normal thyroid gland function, as well as to maintain healthy skin
Iodine in foods:
Ocean fish, iodine-treated table salt, milk and milk products
* Recommendation of the German Nutrition Society for pregnant women.
Vitamin D and calcium during pregnancy
Calcium and vitamin D are further essential nutrients that carry out important functions during pregnancy. For example, calcium plays a central role in maintaining healthy bones and teeth, contributes towards vital muscle function, and plays a role in cell division and cell specialization.
Vitamin D is also required for the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth – because it contributes towards the normal uptake and metabolization of calcium and phosphate.
Characteristics of calcium
What is calcium?
Calcium requirement during pregnancy:*
1,000 mg per day
Maintaining healthy bones and teeth (for mother and child!), contributes to normal blood coagulation and muscle function, plays a role in cell division and cell specialization, and is important for a normal energy metabolism
Calcium in foods
Milk and milk products, green vegetables (e.g., broccoli, leeks), mineral water containing calcium
*Recommendation of the German Nutrition Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung, DGE) for adults and pregnant and breastfeeding women aged 19 years and older.
Characteristics of Vitamin D
What is Vitamin D?
A fat-soluble vitamin that the body can make for itself in the skin on exposure to sunlight (“the skin vitamin”)
Vitamin D requirement during pregnancy *
20 µg per day
Maintaining normal bones and teeth, supports calcium uptake, plays a role in cell division
Vitamin D in foods:
Fish (e.g., sardines), offal, meat, milk, and egg yolk
*Recommendation of the German Nutrition Society for pregnant women in the absence of endogenous vitamin D production.
Iron during pregnancy
Iron is important for the normal formation of red blood cells and the oxygen transport in the body. In addition to this, it contributes towards normal cognitive function and the normal functioning of the immune system and, furthermore, it can reduce fatigue and exhaustion. Therefore, pregnant women should take approximately 30 milligrams of iron per day. Tip: if you eat an iron-rich meal together with a vitamin-C-rich food (e.g., a glass of orange juice with muesli), then this improves the absorption of the iron into the body. If blood tests over the course of your pregnancy show that your hemoglobin levels (your red blood cell count) are sinking too low, then your doctor will usually recommend an iron product.
Characteristics of iron
What is iron?
A trace element
Iron requirement during pregnancy:*
30 mg per day
Normal formation of red blood cells, oxygen transport in the body, reduction of fatigue and exhaustion, cell division, energy metabolism, normal cognitive function, normal functioning of the immune system
Iron in foods:
Meat, whole-grain products, vegetables, pulses
*Recommendation of the German Nutrition Society for pregnant women.