Essential Vitamins and Minerals for Pregnancy
Eating well during your pregnancy helps properly nourish you and your growing baby. Knowing which nutrients best contribute to a healthy pregnancy and the recommended daily intake is important. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests key nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. These include calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and folate.
The daily recommended intake of calcium is 1000 mg. Not only does calcium help build strong bones and teeth for both yourself and your baby, but it is important for nerve development, muscle contraction, and blood clotting. Dairy products are a good source of calcium, along with dark green leafy vegetables, fish with bones, tofu, almonds, calcium fortified juices, breads, and cereals.
Vitamin C will help you absorb calcium. In addition, it helps promote healthy birth weight, gums, teeth, and bones. The recommended daily allowance for vitamin C is 85 mg. You can find vitamin C in citrus fruits, tomatoes, apples, cabbage, broccoli, asparagus, green peppers, and strawberries.
The ACOG recommends 27 mg of iron per day in order to create the red blood cells which transport oxygen to your baby. Without adequate iron you are more at risk of delivering a premature or low birth weight baby. You can reach this goal by eating lean red meat, spinach, prunes, lentils, dried beans, and oatmeal.
Lack of vitamin A may cause premature delivery, eye damage, and skin disorders. Too much vitamin A may cause birth defects, but it most likely won't be due to your diet. In other words, taking above what you're getting from your prenatal vitamins may be detrimental to your baby's health. The daily recommended intake is 770 micrograms. Your prenatal vitamins should contain no more than 800 micrograms. You can find vitamin A in green leafy vegetables, red peppers, diary, whole grains, apricots, and mangoes.
Pyridoxine, or vitamin B6, helps form red blood cells and helps reduce morning sickness. During pregnancy you should get 1.9 mg daily, and you can reach this goal through chicken, beef, bananas, liver, wheat germ, tomatoes, carrots, and soybeans.
The American Pregnancy Association suggests 2.6 micrograms per day of vitamin B12, found only in animal products like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy. Vegans can get B12 from nutritional supplements like soy milk fortified with B12. This nutrient helps form red blood cells and maintains the nervous system.
Folate (folic acid) helps prevent neural tube defects and is instrumental in producing blood and protein. The ACOG recommends 600 micrograms daily. Avocados, black eyed peas, spinach, leafy green vegetables, orange juice, grapefruit juice, and most fruits are excellent sources.
Eating a balanced diet full of variety and color will help you reach your key nutrient goals. While there is nothing better than meeting your nutritional needs through diet, a prenatal vitamin supplement will ensure that all the bases are well covered.