Find out what vitamins, minerals and supplements you must take along with a healthy and balanced diet during pregnancy to ensure the healthy growth of your baby.
During pregnancy, it is crucial to eat a nutritious diet as it is going to have a profound effect on the development of the baby. A regular dose of minerals and supplements during pregnancy ensures the healthy growth of your baby. Vitamins and minerals provide the body with the requisite ingredients to stay healthy as well as to repair any damages. Supplements are taken to make up for any lack of vitamins or minerals in the diet. Prenatal vitamins are just an addition, not the replacement, to the balanced diet that should be strictly followed during pregnancy.
Minerals and supplements during pregnancy
- Folic Acid: Folic acid or folate prevents birth defects of the brain and spinal cord in the foetus. It also offers protection to pregnant woman against cancer and stroke. Most supplements have about 600-1000 micrograms of folic acid. Folate should ideally be started in the pre-planning stage i.e. 3-6 months before conception and continued well into the final trimester. Folic acid can be found in oranges, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, peas, and pasta.
- Iron: Iron is important for preventing anaemia, a condition in which there is a lack of red blood cells. RBCs carry oxygen to your body and to your baby. Iron also helps in muscle development. A pregnant woman needs about 27 mg of iron to be absorbed per day. Iron intake should be high as it takes about six weeks to build up the supplies. Iron can be stored in the body; therefore a healthy diet would lead to a sufficient store of iron. Iron rich foods include beef, pork, spinach, and wheat germ.
- Calcium: Calcium aids in the proper development of the nervous, muscular and circulatory systems in a growing foetus. It also helps prevent high BP. Calcium supplements form an integral part of the essential minerals and supplements list during pregnancy. In case, the mother lacks calcium, her body takes it from her bones and gives it to her baby. Such women generally suffer from thin and fragile bones (osteoporosis) later in life. About 1000-13000mg calcium/day is needed. Calcium can be naturally found in yoghurt, milk, cheese, juices and cereals.
- Docosahexaenoic acid or DHA: This is an omega-3 fatty acid which helps the development and function of the baby’s eyes and brain. Women need about 200mg of DHA per day.
- Zinc: Zinc helps in the production of insulin and enzymes. Since iron supplements taken during pregnancy suppress zinc absorption, zinc supplements are required. Only a small amount, about 11-12 mg is needed daily. Zinc is found in red meats, poultry, nuts, and beans.
Prior to consumption of any minerals and supplements during pregnancy, you must consult your health care provider. Large doses can be risky and are known to be the cause of some birth defects in babies. For instance, very high doses of Vitamin A, D, and C are teratogenic i.e. can cause foetal abnormalities. A doctor’s approval is a must before you start on any supplements. Vitamin supplements are only recommended if the diet is poor during pregnancy.
Read more articles on Pregnancy.
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