Essential Vitamins and Minerals


Your own health and that of your developing baby relies on a regular supply of vitamins and minerals, most of which have to be obtained from the food you eat. The chart below is a guide to the best sources. Vitamins and minerals tend to break down during cooking and processing so choose food that is as fresh as possible.




orange fruit and vegetables ' peaches, melons, mangoes, apricots, carrots and peppers; green vegetables; egg yolk; oily fish such as herring

Antioxidant properties; important for healthy eyes, hair, skin and bones; helps fight infections; can be toxic in excess (do not take supplements or eat offal)


Poultry, pork, beef and lamb; cod; dairy products; eggs; brewer's yeast; green vegetables, such as brussels sprouts and cabbage; nuts, especially pecan nuts, peanuts and walnuts; fortified cereals; wholemeal bread and pasta; oranges; mangos; bananas, avocados; figs; sesame seeds

Helps energy production and protein release from food; maintains healthy skin, hair and nails; essential for nervous and brain function; assists in the production of antibodies to fight infection and red oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood (B12 supplements may be needed if you don't eat meat or dairy food)


Green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and green beans; fortified cereals, pulses (peas and chick peas) and yeast extract such as Marmite

Helps prevent neural tube defects in the fetus; aids red blood cell formation and protein break down in the body (400 mcg supplement recommended daily)


Kiwi fruit, citrus fruit, sweet peppers, blackcurrants, potatoes (especially the skins) and tomatoes

Assits growth and repair of tissues (skin, teeth and bones); aids absorption; antioxidant properties


Eggs; oily fish such as herring, salmon and sardines; butter; margarine; cheese; also provided through exposure to natural light

Enhances calcium absorption; increases the rate of mineral deposits in the bones; can be toxic if taken in excess (do not take supplements)


Eggs; nuts, such as hazelnuts, pine nuts and almonds; sunflower seeds; green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach; avocado; vegetable oils

Maintains healthy skin, nerves, muscles, red blood cells, and heart; important antioxidant ' protects against free radicals, which can damage body tissues


Red meat; eggs; apricots, raisins and prunes; tinned sardines, crab and tuna in oil; fortified cereals; sesame seeds (offal such as liver and kidneys is rich in iron but should be avoided in pregnancy)

Essential for oxygen-carrying haemoglobin production in red blood cells of mother and fetus; builds and maintains muscles


Dairy products; eggs; small bony fish such as sardines; soya products; most nuts; fortified cereals; leafy green vegetables, especially broccoli

Essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles in mother and fetus; also helps with conduction of nerve impulses


Beef; seafood; nuts; onions; sweetcorn; bananas; wholegrain foods (iron-rich foods block absorption)

Necessary for growth and energy; aids healing of wounds; supports the immune system