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Vitamins and Other Nutrients During Pregnancy

vitamins in pregnancy

Key Points

  • During pregnancy, you provide your baby with all of the nutrition he or she requires. As a result, you may require more during pregnancy than you did before.
  • Taking prenatal vitamins and following a nutritious diet throughout pregnancy will help you get all of the nutrients you and your baby require.
  • Ensure that your prenatal vitamin contains folic acid, iron, and calcium. The majority of them contain just the correct amount of each of them.
  • Consult your doctor to ensure that you are getting adequate vitamin D, DHA, and iodine each day.
  • Don’t take any supplements without first getting permission from your doctor.

What are prenatal vitamins? 

Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins for pregnant or trying-to-get-pregnant women. They have more of some nutrients that you need during pregnancy than a standard multivitamin. You can get a prenatal vitamin through your doctor, or you can buy them over the counter without a prescription. During pregnancy, take a prenatal vitamin every day. If you want to become pregnant, start taking prenatal vitamins as soon as possible.

Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in meals help your body stay strong and healthy. Your growing baby obtains all of the nutrition it needs from you during pregnancy. As a result, you may require more during pregnancy than you did previously. If you’re expecting multiples (twins, triplets, or more), you may require more nutrients than if you’re expecting a single child. Your prenatal vitamin will provide you with the nutrients you require in your pregnancy.

If you’re a vegetarian, have food allergies, or can’t consume specific foods, your doctor may recommend a supplement to help you obtain more of the nutrients you need. A supplement is a substance that you take to compensate for nutrients you don’t get enough of from your diet. Your doctor may suggest that you take a vitamin supplement to help you receive more vitamin D, iron, or calcium, for example.

Which nutrients are most important during pregnancy?

Although all vitamins and nutrients are vital, the following 6 are particularly essential for your baby’s growth and development during pregnancy:

  • Folic acid
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • DHA
  • Iodine
  • Vitamin D

#1. Folic Acid

Folic acid is a vitamin B that is required for the healthy growth and development of all cells in your body. Taking folic acid during early pregnancy can help avoid neural tube abnormalities, which are birth malformations of the brain and spine (also called NTDs). Folic acid may help prevent heart problems and birth defects in your baby’s mouth, according to some studies (called cleft lip and palate).

  • Take a vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid every day before becoming pregnant.
  • Even if you’re not attempting to get pregnant, take a vitamin supplement containing 400 mcg of folic acid every day.
  • Take a prenatal vitamin with 600 mcg of folic acid every day while pregnant.

To find out how much folic acid is in a product, look at the label.

If you’re at high risk of having a baby with an NTD, talk to your doctor about taking 4,000 mcg of folic acid every day to help prevent it. Take 4,000 mcg for at least 3 months before conception and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy

If any of the following apply to you, you’re at high risk:

  • You’ve had a previous pregnancy with an NTD.
  • You or your lover suffers from NTD.
  • Your partner has a child that suffers from an NTD.

Don’t take a bunch of multivitamins or prenatal vitamins at the same time. Other nutrients can be consumed in excess, which can be damaging to your health. Your healthcare practitioner can assist you in determining the best and safest way to acquire the recommended quantity of folic acid.

Folic acid is also found in the diet. Folic acid is abundant in citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and beans. Some foods, such as cereals, bread, rice, and pasta, are fortified with folic acid.

#2. Iron

Iron is a type of mineral. Haemoglobin, a protein that helps transfer oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, is made from iron. During pregnancy, you require twice as much iron as you did before. This iron is required by your body to produce more blood, which will supply oxygen to your baby. Iron is required for your baby to produce his blood.

Each day, you need 27 mg of iron while pregnant. This amount is found in most prenatal supplements. Iron can also be obtained through food. 

Iron can be found in a variety of foods, including:

  • Lean meats, poultry, and seafood
  • Beans, nuts, raisins, and dried fruit
  • Cereal, bread, and pasta that have iron added (see package label)
  • Green leafy vegetables

Vitamin C-rich foods can boost the amount of iron your body absorbs. Consuming orange juice, tomatoes, strawberries, and grapefruit daily is an excellent idea.

Calcium (found in dairy products like milk), as well as coffee, tea, egg yolks, fibre, and soybeans, can inhibit iron absorption. When consuming iron-rich meals, try to stay away from these.

If you don’t get enough iron when you’re pregnant, you’re more likely to develop:

  • Infections.
  • Fatigue. This indicates that you are fatigued or exhausted.
  • Low birthweight. This means your baby weighed less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces when he or she was delivered.
  • Anaemia. This indicates that you have an insufficient amount of iron in your blood.
  • Premature birth. This indicates that your baby was born prematurely, before the 37th week of pregnancy.

#3. Calcium

Calcium is a mineral that aids in the development of your child’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles, and nerves. You require 1,000 mg of calcium every day while pregnant. This quantity can be obtained by taking your prenatal vitamin and eating calcium-rich foods. 

The following foods are high in calcium:

  • Kale and broccoli
  • Yoghurt, milk, and cheese
  • Orange juice that has been enriched with calcium (check the package label)

If you don’t receive enough calcium when you’re pregnant, your body will take calcium from your bones and give it to your kid. This can lead to health problems later in life, such as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes your bones to become brittle and easily break.

#4. DHA

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) is a type of lipid (omega-3 fatty acid) that helps in growth and development. DHA is required throughout pregnancy to help your baby’s brain and eye development. Ask your provider if you need to take a DHA supplement because not all prenatal vitamins contain it.

It is suggested that pregnant women consume 8 to 12 ounces of low-mercury shellfish per week. DHA can be found in a variety of foods, including:

Herring, trout, salmon, anchovies, catfish, halibut, shrimp and tilapia

Orange juice, milk, and eggs with DHA added (check package label)

#5. Iodine

Iodine is a mineral that your body needs to make thyroid hormones, which aid in the use and storage of energy obtained from food. Iodine is necessary throughout your pregnancy to help your baby’s nervous system develop. Your baby’s neurological system (brain, spinal cord, and nerves) helps with movement, thinking, and feeling.

Every day, you need 220 mcg of iodine during pregnancy. Iodine is not found in all prenatal vitamins, so be sure to eat foods rich in iodine. If you need to take an iodine supplement, consult your doctor.

Iodine can be found in the following foods:

  • Fish
  • Iodized salt (salt with added iodine – check package label)
  • Yoghurt, milk and cheese
  • Enriched or fortified bread and cereals (check package label)

#6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the absorption of calcium in the body. It also improves the function of your body’s neurons, muscles, and immune system. Your immune system defends you against infection. Vitamin D helps the development of your baby’s bones and teeth.

Vitamin D is required in 600 IU (international units) each day during pregnancy. This amount can be obtained from food or a prenatal vitamin. Vitamin D comes from a variety of sources, including:

  • Salmon and other fatty fish
  • Milk and cereal with vitamin D added (check package label)

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