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Is it necessary to take zinc supplements during pregnancy?

Q: I am in Singapore. My wife is 6 weeks pregnant. I heard that zinc supplements should be taken during pregnancy. But, the doctor here didn't prescribe zinc supplement. My wife is taking folic acid, iron and fish supplements now. Is it necessary to take zinc? If yes, when should she take them?

A:Your doctor in Singapore is absolutely right - only Folic Acid is required. Iron is to be given only if the person is anaemic and has low haemoglobin. Recent research has established that much smaller doses of folic acid (less than 1mg per day - Reference: International Journal of Medical Sciences 2004;1-5-61) are equally effective. In fact multivitamins containing small amounts of folic acid are more effective in preventing abnormalities than high 5mg doses. In India due to commercial interests, many companies are encouraging doctors to give 1-4 tablets (5mg each tablet) of folic acid daily. Even 5mg is more than adequate.


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