Essential Vitamins and Nutrients for Pregnant Mums
Pregnancy is one of life’s most greatest moments a woman can go through. It can be turbulent, rocky, magical and exhausting. Pregnancy can put a strain on a woman’s body, and therefore healthy eating is important to provide the nutrients that both mum and baby need. But with so many products on the market, it’s hard to know what is really needed and what is just a marketing ploy to get you to buy more products. There are some vitamins and nutrients that are essential to both you and your growing baby, so here is a comprehensive list of the vitamins you should keep an eye on during your pregnancy.
We all know that calcium helps us with bone development, which is why it’s an important nutrient for your growing baby. However, calcium is also very important for an expectant mother as many physiological changes through the pregnancy can put a strain on her bones. It’s important to include two to three serves of dairy products every day through the form of milk, cheese, yoghurt, and fish with edible bones. Green leafy vegetables such as watercress, broccoli, and curly kale are also great sources of calcium.
As maternal blood volume increases, so too does your level of iron requirements. Having an iron deficiency during pregnancy can increase the risk of having a preterm or low birth weight baby, which can impact their short and long-term health. One way to ensure your iron intake is sufficient is by eating red meat, which is the best source of iron. You can also get iron from plant foods such as nuts, wholegrain breads, cereals and legumes, but it is not absorbed as well as through red meat sources. If you are worried that you aren’t getting enough iron through your diet, talk to your doctor about the possibility of taking iron supplements.
Folic acid (folate)
For the development and growth of new cells, folic acid is the nutrient you will be most in need of. It is needed right before conception, and is very important through the first trimester. Insufficient folic acid can lead to neural tube defects in the unborn child. To increase your folate intake, ensure you eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and yeast extracts such as Vegemite.
For the normal mental development of your baby, iodine is needed in your diet. However, iodine can be difficult to obtain through food alone. You can increase your iodine intake by eating iodised salt, fish, and seafood weekly. However, be sure to check with your medical practitioner what the safe fishes for you to eat while pregnant are. The other option to increase iodine while pregnant is to take a multivitamin supplement with iodine that has been cleared as safe for during pregnancy.
Once cells have developed, you need nutrients to make sure they remain healthy. This is when zinc comes into play. If you take iron supplements while pregnant, you may find this interferes with your absorption of zinc, but eating iron-rich foods will help with maintaining your zinc intake.
Gums, teeth, bones, and body tissue formation all rely on Vitamin C in healthy doses. To ensure your child has enough Vitamin C, you should eat fruits such as oranges, strawberries and papaya, as well as vegetables like red capsicum, cauliflower and broccoli.
To help your body use and absorb calcium, your body needs Vitamin D. Most people get enough Vitamin D by being in the sun for 10 minutes in the morning or afternoon, but a little longer in cloudy conditions or in winter is recommended.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
For your baby’s neural development, Omega 3 fatty acids can certainly help. A few supplements will include fish oil, which is your source of fatty acids, however medical practitioners in the past have advised not to take these supplements in the first trimester. More studies are being conducted to conclude if they are safe or needed within the first trimester, so be sure to check with your doctor if you need to take these or not. Are you getting the vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy baby and a healthy you?