5 Nutritional Deficiencies Common During Pregnancy (And How to Prevent Them)

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There are some common nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy that women should be aware of so that proper measures can be taken to prevent complications. Not having enough nutrients can effect your overall health and your baby’s development. That’s one of the reason’s it is so important to pay attention to what you eat during pregnancy and listen to your body. 

This post will cover some of the most common symptoms of nutritional deficiencies for pregnant women and what you can do to prevent them and have a healthy pregnancy

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely expecting the arrival of a baby. First of all, congratulations!! Pregnancy is a wonderful time and such an exciting chapter.

For many women, however, pregnancy is also a time of mixed emotions. You might be feeling both immense joy and fear of the unknown. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. The next nine months will truly fly by, and until then, your main focus should be taking care of yourself and your baby.

This means eating a healthy diet.

Eating a healthy diet is always important but especially while pregnant, since what you put into your body is the main source of nutrients for your baby.

Try not to over complicate things for yourself, it will only cause extra stress that you don’t need. Common sense goes a long way when it comes to your pregnancy diet; remember to eat your fruit and vegetables, get regular (light) exercise and plenty of rest.

If you’re not watching what you eat, you are unfortunately putting yourself at risk of nutritional deficiency. In this article, we’ve looked at the most common nutritional deficiencies experienced by pregnant women, alongside some ways that you can alter your diet to prevent any of these deficiencies from occurring.

RELATED – Best Healthy Pregnancy Recipes for Every Meal

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Some Common Deficiencies that Occur in Pregnancy

These are some common nutrients that most pregnant women do not get enough of from their diet. The good thing is there are lots of ways to boost your nutrition so that you can get what you need to grow a healthy baby. 

1 – Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps regulate the levels of calcium and phosphate in your body, which you need to keep your bones and teeth healthy. It’s crucial during pregnancy to ensure your baby develops healthy bones and teeth.

It can also help you to fight infections and diseases, helping you stay healthy during pregnancy.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency:

  • Getting ill or infections
  • Bone or muscle pain
  • Back pain
  • Fatigue & tiredness
  • Hair loss
  • Low mood

Preventing Vitamin D deficiency During Pregnancy:

  • Eat foods rich in Vitamin D (oily fish, cheese, egg yolks & beef liver)
  • Get sufficient sunlight exposure
  • Maintain healthy weight


To make it a little easier to know what to eat during pregnancy, make sure to download your copy of The Ultimate Pregnancy Grocery List by signing up below. 

Print the pregnancy grocery list pdf, put it on your fridge and make sure to eat from the list daily for a healthier pregnancy. 

2 – Iron

Your body needs iron to make extra blood for the baby. While pregnant, you actually need double the amount of iron you did before pregnancy.

Unfortunately, 50% of women don’t get enough of this important mineral during pregnancy.

Symptoms of iron deficiency:

  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue & weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Cold hands & feet

Preventing iron deficiency during pregnancy:

  • Iron-rich foods (beef & chicken liver, lentils & beans, spinach, nuts & seeds)
  • Iron supplements
  • Eating foods high in Vitamin C


3 – Calcium

During pregnancy, your baby needs calcium to develop strong bones, teeth, a healthy heart, muscles and nerves. It’s also crucial to maintaining the health and strength of your own bones during pregnancy.

Symptoms of calcium deficiency:

  • Muscle aches, cramps & spasms
  • Fatigue & low energy
  • Dry & brittle nails
  • Dental problems

Preventing calcium deficiency:

  • Make sure to get 3 cups of calcium-rich foods everyday
  • Consume calcium-rich foods (yogurt, cheese, milk, sardines)
  • Regular exercise

Nettle leaf tea is a great source of calcium during pregnancy. Check out this post on best herbal teas for pregnancy for how to boost your nutrition with herbs. 

4 – Folate

Folate (commonly referred to by it’s synthetic version as folic acid) is very important in pregnancy, especially during early development as it helps form the neural tube. Consuming the proper amount and type of folate can prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.

There is a difference between folate and folic acid. This article has a good overview of why folate and folic acid are so important during pregnancy.

According to the American Pregnancy Association –

A large percentage of women (up to 60%) have a defect in their MTHFR gene that doesn’t allow them to properly convert synthetic folic acid into active methylfolate. As such women taking folic acid may not be absorbing their B vitamins as expected. For this reason it’s preferable to take folate either from whole food sources or supplements that containing the natural form of active folate instead of synthesized folic acid whenever possible.

Symptoms of folate deficiency:

  • Pale skin
  • Decreased appetite
  • Low energy & fatigue
  • Diarrhea

Preventing folate deficiency during pregnancy:

  • Eating folate rich foods (leafy green vegetables, brown rice, artichokes)
  • Prenatal Supplement with active folate

Look for prenatal vitamins like this one that contains the natural, active form of folate.

5 – Magnesium

Magnesium deficiency is perhaps one of the most common nutrient deficiencies among pregnant women. 

Magnesium is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It supports a healthy immune system, regulates your heartbeat and keeps your bones strong.

It’s important to consume a good amount of magnesium in your diet during pregnancy as research suggests that getting adequate magnesium during pregnancy can help prevent the uterus from contracting prematurely.

Magnesium deficiency in Pregnancy Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Aches and pains
  • Insomnia
  • Numbness & tingling
  • Abnormal heart rhythms

Preventing magnesium deficiency:

  • Eat magnesium-rich foods (seaweed, dark chocolate, avocados, nuts & seeds)
  • Drink magnesium mineral water
  • Eat raw instead of cooked vegetables

The good thing is that with a little mindfulness all these nutrient deficiencies can be avoided. 

For more information on how to eat well during pregnancy read – 7 Basic Principles for a Healthy Pregnancy Diet


About the Author

Katie Myers is a content writer for online food store Halusky. When she’s not coming up with food-related blog ideas, she’s being a Mum to her daughter Sophie.

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