Women who are pregnant or childbearing age need more folate (“folic acid”), iron, and iodine. Experts recommend a prenatal multivitamin supplement to make sure you get enough essential nutrients. TRICARE covers prescription prenatal vitamins but does not cover over-the-counter ones.

Folic acid can prevent certain birth defects, but many of these can begin before you even know you’re pregnant. A diet rich in green leafy vegetables and fortified grains provides folic acid, but if you’re childbearing age, you should take a supplement with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily. If you’re already pregnant, you need a supplement with 600 mcg daily. Military Health System policy encourages active-duty servicewomen to consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains plus a folic acid supplement.

Iron helps your body supply blood and oxygen to your baby. Red meat, beans, lentils, and green leafy vegetables such as spinach are natural sources of iron, but many foods (such as breakfast cereal) are fortified with iron. Look for a prenatal multivitamin that includes iron.

Iodine is important for the development of your baby’s brain. Be sure your prenatal vitamin includes iodine. Women who are vegan or don’t eat fish or dairy—two sources of iodine—may be at higher risk of iodine deficiency.

Dietary supplements can carry significant risks to you and your baby because they aren’t tested or approved by the Food and Drug Administration prior to market. The wise choice is not to take any dietary supplements not approved by your doctor.

For information about nutrition during pregnancy, please visit HPRC’s How much should I eat during my pregnancy?.

Updated 7 May 2018

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