During pregnancy, your baby receives all of the nutrients he/she requires from you. As a result, you may require more during pregnancy than you did before. Taking prenatal supplements and eating healthy foods can help ensure that you and your baby get all of the nutrients you require during pregnancy. Check that your prenatal supplements contains folic acid, iron, and calcium. Most have an adequate amount of each. Consult your healthcare provider to ensure you get enough vitamin D, DHA, and iodine each day.
Which nutrients are essential during pregnancy?
All nutrients are important, but the following six are especially important for your baby’s growth and development during pregnancy:
Folic acid is a vitamin B that is required by every cell in your body for proper growth and development. Taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects, which are birth defects of the brain and spine. According to some research, taking folic acid may help prevent heart defects and birth defects in your baby’s mouth (called cleft lip and palate).
Take a vitamin supplement containing 400 mcg of folic acid every day prior to pregnancy. Even if you’re not trying to conceive, take a vitamin supplement containing 400 mcg of folic acid every day.
During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin with 600 mcg of folic acid every day. Check the label to see how much folic acid is in the product.
If you’re at high risk of having a baby with an NTD, talk to your provider about taking 4,000 mcg of folic acid every day to help prevent an NTD. Begin taking 4,000 mcg at least three months before conception and continue for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Take no more than one multivitamin or prenatal vitamin. Other nutrients can be consumed in excess, which can be harmful to your health. Your provider can advise you on the best and safest way to get the recommended amount of folic acid.
Folic acid can also be obtained through food. Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and beans are all high in folic acid. Some foods, such as cereals, bread, rice, and pasta, are also enriched with folic acid.
Read more: Surprising Health Benefits of Pregnancy
Iron is a type of mineral. Iron is used by your body to produce haemoglobin, a protein that aids in the transport of oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. You require twice as much iron during pregnancy as you did before. Your body requires this iron to produce more blood, which carries oxygen to your baby. Your baby requires iron to produce his own blood.
Each day, pregnant women require 27 milligrams of iron. This is the amount found in most prenatal vitamins. Food can also provide iron. Iron-rich foods include:
- Meat that is lean, poultry, and seafood
- Iron-fortified cereals, bread, and pasta (check the package label)
- Green leafy vegetables
- Dried fruit, raisins, and beans
Vitamin C-rich foods can increase the amount of iron your body absorbs. Every day, consume foods such as orange juice, tomatoes, strawberries, and grapefruit.
Calcium as well as coffee, tea, egg yolks, fibre, and soybeans can prevent your body from absorbing iron. When eating iron-rich foods, try to avoid these.
If you don’t get enough iron while pregnant, you’re more likely to get Anemia. This indicates that you have an iron deficiency in your blood. You will be extremely tired or exhausted.
It increases the risk of premature delivery. This means that your baby was born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Moreover, it can cause thr problem of low birth weight.
Calcium is a mineral that aids in the development of your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles, and nerves. You need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day while pregnant. This amount can be obtained by taking a prenatal vitamin and eating calcium-rich foods. Calcium-rich foods include:
- Yogurt, milk, and cheese
- Kale and broccoli
- Orange juice fortified with calcium (check the package label)
If you don’t get enough calcium while pregnant, your body will take calcium from your bones and give it to your baby. This can lead to health problems later in life, such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes your bones to become thin and easily fractured.
Vitamin D aids calcium absorption in the body. It also aids the function of your body’s nerves, muscles, and immune system. Your immune system defends your body against infection. Vitamin D promotes the development of your baby’s bones and teeth.
You need 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day while pregnant. This amount can be obtained from food or from your prenatal vitamin. Vitamin D-rich foods include:
- Fatty fish, such as salmon
- Milk and cereal enriched with vitamin D (check the package label)
Read more: 4 food related myths around pregnancy
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that promotes growth and development. DHA is required during pregnancy to aid in the development of your baby’s brain and eyes. Because not all prenatal vitamins contain DHA, consult your healthcare provider to see if you need to take a DHA supplement.
DHA-rich foods include:
- Herring, salmon, trout, anchovies, halibut, catfish, shrimp, and tilapia are all available.
- Orange juice, milk, and eggs enriched with DHA (check the package label)
Iodine is a mineral that your body requires to produce thyroid hormones, which aid in the use and storage of energy from food. Iodine is required during pregnancy to aid in the development of your baby’s nervous system. Your baby’s nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves) allows him or her to move, think, and feel.
Every day, you need 220 micrograms of iodine during pregnancy. Because not all prenatal vitamins contain iodine, make sure you eat iodine-rich foods. Consult your doctor to see if you need to take an iodine supplement. Iodine-rich foods include:
- Fish, milk, cheese, and yoghurt.
- Cereals and bread that have been enriched or fortified (check the package label)
- Salt iodized (salt with iodine added to it; check the package label)