Pregnancy is one of the greatest nutritional challenges faced by a woman’s body in her life. Some of the most important development processes occur in the womb in the early weeks of pregnancy and even before many women realise they have conceived, so preparing well for both conception and pregnancy is vital. Here are ten top nutrients women should include in their diet before and during pregnancy…The top ten nutrients for conception and pregnancy are as follows:
1. Folic Acid
Low maternal folate status is a risk factor in the development of neural tube defects in the developing foetus. You need folic acid in the very early weeks before you even find ouf out you’re pregnant. Eat foods rich in folic acid such as fortified breakfast cereals, citrus fruit and take a supplement containing 400mcg folic acid every day.
2. Vitamin B12
Take a supplement that includes at least 2.5mcg of vitamin B12.
3. Vitamin D
We make this vitamin from sunlight, however during winter levels can be low and having enough for conception and pregnancy is important. Your body needs vitamin D as it contribute to normal utilization of calcium, which help build your baby’s bones. Dietary sources are few – mainly oily types of fish and fortified margarine. Official Department of Health guidance is for women to take a daily 10mcg/day supplement of vitamin D daily while pregnant and breastfeeding.
Zinc is scientifically proven to support normal reproductive health and fertility. Lean meats, dairy products, fish and shellfish, wholegrain bread and cereals are all rich in zinc.
Iodine contributes to normal functioning of the nervous system. Iodine has been a hot topic in the news recently as it has emerged many young women have too little iodine.
Many women are deficient in iron, which is a vital mineral for pregnant women and their unborn child as it contributes to normal formation of red blood cells and haemoglobin. All meats are rich sources, plus beans and pulses and dried fruit. Fortified breakfast cereals are also a great source – so choose these for breakfast, and snack times too.
7. Omega-3 DHA
Long chain omega 3 fatty acids such as DHA are only found in oily fish such as salmon, pilchards and mackerel. DHA contributes to normal brain and eye development of the foetus– important throughout all stages of pregnancy. Unless you regularly eat oily fish (twice a week) a daily omega-3 supplement may be in order.
While pregnant you have to produce an entire skeleton, and protect your own bones and teeth at teh same time. Calcium is needed for maintenance of normal bones. Milk and diary foods are great sources, including yoghurt and cheese. Other sources include almonds, fortified breakfast cereals, fortified soya products and baked beans.
Found in meat and fish, and also in eggs and Brazil nuts, so stock up when doing your weekly shop. Ensure your partner boosts his selenium intake too as it contributes to normal spermatogenesis.
A member of the vitamin B complex, often referred to as vitamin B8. Among its many benefits, include preventing cancer, helping with diabetes, lowering cholesterol and treating depression. Studies have also shown that inositol benefits new born babies with respiratory distress by significantly reducing death and disability. Further studies are ongoing.
Text: Supplied by Pregnacare Range, which provides supplements for before and during pregnancy