Important Vitamins and Nutrients During Pregnancy

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Prenatal vitamins and minerals are essential for pregnant women to stay strong and healthy during the gestation period. Often it is advised to take these additional nutrients while planning for conception. It is essential to include some important vitamins and nutrients during pregnancy in a pregnant individual’s diet for the wellbeing, growth, and development of the baby.

Along with prenatal supplements, it is also advised to include lots of fiber and fluids in the diet. Physical activity and rest are also important factors that affect pregnancy. Always remember to contact the health expert if any discomfort arises.

These additional nutrients are also vital for individuals who have food allergies and for those who follow different diets. They help in filling in for the nutrients that might otherwise be missing from the parent’s diet. Here are some of the most important vitamins and nutrients that are needed during pregnancy.

Essential Vitamins and Nutrients

Protein

Proteins are extremely important during the pregnancy, both for the mother and the child. Aside from functions like general growth and development of the fetus, protein also helps in strengthening their immune system, enables the proper functioning of their muscles, promotes the growth of new tissues, and repairs the damaged ones.

It is also crucial in the proper transportation of blood in the fetus’ body. Additionally, consuming enough protein during pregnancy ensures that the child has a healthy birthweight. This reduces the risks of many conditions in the future. Proteins also promote functioning of the cells after birth, even through childhood, and beyond.

Generally, a pregnant individual is advised to consume 71 grams of protein daily, even though it may vary slightly from person to person. The most common sources of protein are poultry, lentils, milk, peanut butter, eggs, and cottage cheese.

Folate or Folic Acid

Folate is an essential prenatal supplement and at the same time, it is also the nutrient that is seen to be lacking in diets. This form of Vitamin B is necessary in the synthesis of DNA, fetal growth and development, and in the manufacturing of red blood cells. Moreover, folic acid plays a critical role in preventing neural tube defects, abnormalities in the nervous system, cardiac conditions, and other birth defects like cleft lips.

The supplementation of folic acid has also been recommended to individuals who are planning to conceive. A daily dose of 400 to 1000 micrograms is recommended. This nutrient is easily found in fortified cereals, leafy vegetables, cornmeal, pasta, legumes, and citrus fruits.

Calcium

Calcium is a vital mineral for both the baby and the parent-to-be. It helps in the growth of teeth and bones in the fetus. Apart from that, it plays a role in the development of nerves, muscles, and the heart. Also, calcium is necessary for repairing and strengthening the skeletal system of the mother. Pregnancy increases the chances of osteoporosis in females, hence it is important that a sufficient amount of calcium is consumed by pregnant women.

The suggested amount of calcium for a pregnant woman is 1000 mg a day. Depending on age, this specified amount changes. Calcium is found abundantly in dairy products, salmon, broccoli, spinach, cereals, and kale.

Vitamin D

Studies have shown that despite its importance during pregnancy, Vitamin D deficiency is seen in almost 33% of the pregnant women in the US. With its crucial role in promoting bone strength, Vitamin D is necessary for the mother to avoid complications involving blood sugar levels, blood pressure levels, and the birthing process. It is also important in preventing premature births and ensures that the size of the baby at birth is healthy.

An average pregnant woman needs about 600 IU of calcium a day. It is richly available from sunlight as well as salmon, fortified milk, orange juice, and eggs.

Iron

In order to produce extra red blood cells for the baby and the mother, it is crucial that the mother includes plenty of iron in the diet. Since a pregnant woman needs twice the amount of iron need by a normal person, doctors always recommend taking iron tablets.

A lack of iron in the diet will result in preterm birthing and there are also increased chances of a low birthweight baby. These infants have poor immunity systems and more prone to developing conditions like obesity and diabetes. For the mother, an iron deficiency means that they are more susceptible to infections, a constant feeling of being fatigued, and anemia.

Doctors recommend around 27 mg of iron in the daily diet of a pregnant woman. Iron can be found in lean red meat, poultry, fish, leafy greens, beans, nuts, raisins, and dried fruits. For proper absorption of iron, pairing these foods with foods rich in Vitamin C is suggested.

Iodine

Iodine has a major role in controlling the production of thyroid hormone. This hormone is responsible for the regulation of functions like metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature. Therefore, a deficiency in iodine can affect the proper functioning of the pregnant individual’s system.

At the same time, it has been noticed that a low iodine diet during pregnancy leads to intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, and birth defects. Also, daily supplementation of iodine is required to maintain the wellbeing of lactating women.

Even though only 220 micrograms a day are required by the pregnant body, finding iodine in prenatal supplements is difficult. Foods like iodized salt, milk, cheese, yogurt, and enriched cereals are good sources of iodine.

DHA

DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is often taken by pregnant women to prevent numerous pregnancy complications. Studies have shown that individuals taking DHA often have lower risks of preeclampsia. It is also vital in the brain development of the fetus. Moreover, DHA boosts the development of vision in the fetus and reduces their chances of developing asthma.

During pregnancy, the recommended amount of DHA is 200 mg each day. Since it is not easily available in many foods, looking for pasta, bread, and milk that have DHA added to them are the best sources. Also, fish like herring, salmon, halibut, and trout should be eaten regularly for DHA supplementation.

Choline

Intake of choline during pregnancy and breastfeeding has shown to improve the metabolic and cognitive functions of both the parent and the child. Deficiency of this nutrient results in protecting the brain from neurological damage and defects of the neural tube.

450 mg of choline a day is the recommended amount for expecting women. Dairy products, seafood, lean meat, egg, legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy products are rich sources of choline.

Conclusion

Pregnancy is a time where the parent should focus on taking care of themselves in order to ensure the baby’s healthy development and their own wellbeing. Prenatal supplements aid in achieving this goal. To include these important vitamins and nutrients during pregnancy also has benefits after the birth of the baby. The baby’s development and the parent’s recovery after birth are boosted with the use of prenatal vitamins.

Based on the health expert’s recommendation, include as many vitamins and nutrients as possible for the baby’s and the expecting parent’s benefit. Be sure that the pros of consuming additional nutrients outweigh the harms. Also, remember to get ample sleep, minimize stress, and exercise to remain healthy.