The guts of it

December 2009


The role of micronutrients in pregnancy

Volume 38, No.12, December 2009 Pages 980-984

Chi Eung Danforn Lim

Ming Fong Yii

Lisa N C Cheng

Yui Kwan Maria Chow


The antenatal shared care model has become increasingly popular among Australian women as the preferred mode of pregnancy care. General practitioners are often asked by their pregnant women patients about the nutrients needed during pregnancy.


This article discusses the role of various micronutrients and trace elements needed in pregnancy, and provides daily intake recommendations of these nutrients as a reference point.


Much attention has been given to micronutrients such as folate and iron, but less regard to other trace elements that are also important in pregnancy. Encouraging a balanced diet and ensuring the adequacy of these micronutrients is essential for minimising pregnancy complications. However, GPs should also be aware of the maximum level of recommended intakes and any possible adverse effects.

Micronutrients and trace elements have an important influence on the health of both mother and fetus. Deficiency of micronutrients during pregnancy may give rise to complications such as anaemia and hypertension, as well as impairing fetal function, development and growth.1,2 A recent meta-analysis evaluating the effects of antenatal multimicronutrient supplementation on pregnancy outcomes has revealed a significant reduced risk of low birth weight and improved birth weight in comparison to iron/folic acid supplementation only.3 (It should be noted that the majority of included studies were in low or middle income countries3.).

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