Pregnancy

      Vitamin C during pregnancy

      A fresh start 

      The importance of Vitamin C

      Vitamin C is needed to make collagen, one of the fibres that builds your baby’s body. So, it’s no surprise that your need increases during pregnancy. Fortunately, it’s easy to get an adequate supply from a diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables. Learn about the benefits of vitamin C in pregnancy, how it can help iron absorption and which foods are the best sources.


      Vitamin C helps to support:
      Normal development of tissues and organs

      The benefits of vitamin C

      Not only does it boost your immune system and reduce your risk of suffering from iron-defficiency anaemia in pregnancy, Vitamin C is key to your baby's physical development too.

      It:

      • aids in the production of collagen, which supports normal growth, bone strength and wound healing1
      • supports your baby's immune system,2
      • helps your baby to absorb iron and build up stores for later use.2

      C is for collagen

      One of the main proteins needed for your baby’s normal growth throughout pregnancy is collagen. This vital part of connective tissue helps to give your baby’s body its structure, and supports their developing organs.

      Vitamin C supports the immune system by keeping cells healthy and helping wounds to heal.

      Vitamin C can improve your iron absorption

      A significant benefit of vitamin C for pregnant women is its influence on non-haem iron absorption. An adequate intake of iron is essential to support your increased blood volume and reduce the risk of iron-deficiency anaemia, a condition that can affect your own health and your baby’s development1.

      By aiding non haem-iron absorption from plant sources, vitamin C also plays a role in building up your baby’s iron stores, which will support their learning and growth for the first 6 months of life2.

      Vitamin C helps the body absorb non-haem iron, the type found in plant sources such as spinach and chickpeas.

      Eating good sources of vitamin C with plant sources of iron during pregnancy can increase your daily intake considerably3. To get the most out of your diet, include fruit and iron sources within the same meal, whether it’s adding chopped fruit to a salad or having a whole fruit for dessert3.

      It’s not just oranges that are a great source of vitamin C, spinach and red peppers are also an excellent source.

      Getting your daily dose of vitamin C in pregnancy

      The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI – the amount considered to be enough to meet most people’s needs) of vitamin C during pregnancy is 50mg per day, which is 25% more than you would normally need4. This increases even further when breastfeeding, to a recommended 70mg per day.

      As a water-soluble vitamin, it dissolves in water and isn’t stored by the body, which means a daily intake during pregnancy is essential. Fortunately, you can get all the vitamin C you need to support you and your baby by eating a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables5.

      This table shows the vitamin C content of various good sources6:

      Steam and grill for a higher vitamin C intake

      As with other water-soluble vitamins, the way you prepare and cook foods can affect the vitamin C content7.

      Boiling can destroy some of the vitamin C. To retain as much nutrient quality as possible, steam or grill your vegetables7. You can also eat them raw in salads or dip raw vegetable sticks into iron-rich hummus for a nutritious snack.

      Gram for gram, which of these foods contains more vitamin C?

      Incorrect answer

      Oranges – surprisingly, they only contain 52mg of vitamin C per 100g, around half as much as peppers.

      Correct answer

      Peppers – amazingly, they contain over twice as much vitamin C as oranges – around 126mg per 100g.

      NEXT STEPS

      Add the following vitamin C-rich foods to your pregnancy shopping list:

      • Red peppers
      • Broccoli
      • Cabbage
      • Oranges
      • Tomatoes
      • Strawberries

      1. Maggini S et al. Essential Role of Vitamin C and Zinc in Child Immunity and Health. J Int Med Res 2010; 38: 386 - 414

      2. NHS. Vitamins for children [Online] 2015 Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/Pages/vitamins-for-children.aspx [Accessed October 2017]. 

      3. NHS UK. Iron-deficiency anaemia – complications [Online]. 2014. Available at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anaemia-iron-deficiency-/Pages/Complications.aspx [Accessed June 2014]

      4. Rumbold A, Crowther CA. Vitamin C supplementation in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2, 2005.

      5. Royal Surrey County Hospital (NHS). Check your iron intake pdf [Online]. 2012. Available at: www.royalsurrey.nhs.uk/Patients/Information-Leaflets/DownloadPDF?DocID=1233%2c1139%2c5%2c1%2cDocuments&MediaID=d863305d-d3d2-409b-abbb-841da008bcf2&Filename=PIN543_Check_your_iron_intake_w.pdf[Accessed June 2014]

      6. Dietary reference values for food energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom. Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy. Report on Health and Social Subjects 41, 1991.

      7. Department of Health. Nutrient analysis of fruit and vegetables [Online]. 2013. Available at: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf [Accessed June 2014]

      8. Gov.UK. Nutrient Analysis of Fruit and Vegetables [Online]. 2013. Available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/nutrient-analysis-of-fruit-and-vegetables [Accessed August 2014]

      9. NHS UK. Vitamins and minerals [Online]. 2012. Available at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/vitamins-minerals.aspx [Accessed June 2014]

      Last reviewed: 18th August 2014

      Your baby's future health begins here

      Your baby's future health begins here

      At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; that each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

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