Pregnancy supplements

Supplement for pregnancy

A woman’s nutritional needs become higher once she becomes pregnant. That’s why there is a greater need for her diet to contain the necessary nutrients, including vitamins and minerals – all of which can be achieved through a balanced diet, supported by supplements for pregnancy in Malaysia. Research suggests that most pregnant mothers in Malaysia did not achieve the recommended nutrient intakes (RNI) for essential nutrients1, with a daily average intake recorded for folic acid at 36%, calcium at 73%, and protein at 87%.2 

As for the needs of your growing baby, he or she cannot afford deficiencies of a few nutrients as these are essential in the development of vital organs. It is for this reason that your obstetrician would prescribe you some supplements.

It is important to note that while not all supplements for pregnancy are necessary, there may be some risks involved with the ones you need, depending on your pregnancy. Therefore, it’s important to always consult your doctor before consuming supplements for pregnancy to better understand safety of consumption and dosage.

Recommended supplements for pregnancy3

One of the most widely prescribed supplements for pregnancy is folic acid. Due to its critical role to prevent neural tube defect, folic acid supplementation is recommended even as you prepare to conceive.4 You may not realise it, but your growing baby’s brain starts developing even before your first prenatal doctor’s visit! 400 mcg4 of folic acid is the usual recommendation, but your doctor may decide to give a higher dose if you fall under a high-risk category.

In addition to iron, folic acid supplements are also generally prescribed. Iron and folic acid, which support the formation of red blood cells, are especially important during your pregnancy when the volume of blood increases to carry oxygen and nutrients to your body tissues and your developing baby. Iron deficiency anaemia during pregnancy can lead to complications such as premature birth and low birth weight. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that a daily plan of supplements for pregnancy include 30 to 60 mg of iron.4 If you are a vegetarian, you should take more precaution because you may have an increased risk of iron deficiency anaemia. If you are diagnosed with anaemia during pregnancy, your doctor may increase your elemental iron dose; 120 mg until your haemoglobin rises to normal.

Based on the RNI released by the Ministry of Health Malaysia, the need for folic acid and protein is higher during pregnancy and lactation, while calcium is also higher for women compared to men in older age.5 Therefore, you can also consider adding these supplements to support a healthy and well-rounded diet during pregnancy.

Another vitamin that may commonly be given and is considered one of the key supplements for pregnancy is vitamin D. This is the case because insufficiency seems to be prevalent in Asia as people tend to stay in-doors and avoid sun exposure. You should aim to get at least 10 μg (micrograms) of vitamin D every day during your pregnancy. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb two important minerals – calcium and phosphorus – which in turn, supports the development of your growing baby’s bones and teeth. In addition, it also keeps them strong.

If you are not getting enough vitamin D during your pregnancy, it may increase your risk of pregnancy related complications such as pre-eclampsia and low birth weight.6

In addition to these three, other supplements for pregnancy as well as DHA may also be given routinely, at your doctor’s discretion.

Can I take my supplements for pregnancy all at once?

Supplements for pregnancy in Malaysia can provide the necessary added nutrition, however, the absorption of many of these may be affected by the food you eat or other supplements that you prescribe. Therefore, it is important to follow your doctor’s prescription, including when to take your supplements.

Plan a time chart for each supplement with the help of your doctor.

Supplements for pregnancy to avoid

In many countries, supplements for pregnancy are easily available over the counter, so always read the safety label and consult your doctor prior to taking them.

Avoid taking vitamin A supplements during pregnancy as this may harm your baby’s development in the womb.3 As it is widely used in acne treatment, discuss your options with your dermatologist7 if you are planning to or are already pregnant.

In addition, be careful when you take herbal supplements. The ingredients may not always be suitable for pregnancy. Discuss these with your doctor.

Mums, take note that there is no substitute to a balanced diet. Add these supplements for pregnancy into your meal plan if recommended and remember to have them with balanced, healthy meals!

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1. Abdul Manaf Z, Johari N, Lee YM, Ng SY, Chua KY, Loke WT. Nutritional status and nutritional knowledge of Malay pregnant women in selected private hospitals in Klang Valley. Jurnal Sains Kesihatan Malaysia 2014;12:53-62.
2. National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition, Ministry of Health Malaysia. Recommended nutrient intakes for Malaysia 2017.
3. Vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy. (2017, January 26). Retrieved March 14, 2017, from
4. World Health Organization, WHO recommendations on antenatal care for a positive pregnancy experience. Geneva: WHO Press. 2016.
5. National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition, Ministry of Health Malaysia, A Report of the Technical Working Group on Nutritional Guidelines. Retrieved April 5, 2022, from
6. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) (2016).Dietary reference values for vitamin D. EFSA Journal, 29 June.
7. Bozzo, P., Chua-Gocheco, A., & Einarson, A. (2011). Safety of skin care products during pregnancy. Canadian Family Physician, 57(6), 665-667.