Vitamins & Pregnancy: What You Need & How To Get It
While we all need to ensure we’re getting an adequate intake of essential vitamins and minerals to keep the body working optimally, it is even more important for women who are pregnant, or who are planning on becoming pregnant in the near future. Vitamin C, Vitamin D, iron, and folic acid are all important for both mum and baby, helping to ensure good, strong development during gestation.
Vitamin C helps to protect both your cells, and those of your baby as they grow and develop. Good sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers and tomatoes, and leafy green vegetables including kale and broccoli.
Pregnant women should aim to consume 10 micrograms of Vitamin D each day, helping to build up their baby’s internal stores, which should be enough to last for the first few months of life outside the womb.
Iron is essential during pregnancy, helping to prevent anaemia and associated symptoms such as tiredness and lightheadedness. Lean meats, leafy greens, and peanuts (if you are not allergic) are good sources.
It’s advised that you start taking folic acid supplements before becoming pregnant, as it could help to reduce the risk of spina bifida. Aim for 400 micrograms each day (up to 5 mg if you’re high risk).
Vitamin Intake & Pregnancy
Of course, these guidelines and pieces of medical advice aren’t always easy to follow, especially during pregnancy. It’s estimated that around 73 percent of women carrying a single child will suffer with ‘morning’ sickness at some point during their pregnancy. This is often within the first three months, although nausea and vomiting can return in the later stages of pregnancy, or may even continue throughout the gestation period. Despite your best efforts to eat healthily during your pregnancy, if you experience bouts of sickness it may be more difficult for your body to absorb nutrients from food.
Another very common issue surrounding pregnancy and nutrients is the onset of cravings, and significant changes in dietary preferences. Between 60 and 90 percent of all pregnant women experience cravings (which usually disappear shortly before the birth), and here in the west, some of the most commonly craved foods include sweet things such as chocolate and sugary juices. The reason? While hormones almost certainly play a role, it’s also believed that the body’s natural response is to protect the baby. That may be why you might not feel much like eating meats, which, if undercooked, could cause food poisoning.
Getting What You Need
As we can see, even if you have good intentions, and plan to eat healthily during pregnancy, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. The good news is that your diet isn’t the only way to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need, both for yourself and your growing baby. Food supplements are not only safe for mums-to-be, but the Department of Health actually recommends that pregnant women take certain supplements throughout the duration of their pregnancy, particularly Vitamin D. It is advised that you take care with supplements containing Vitamin A, as too much could be risky.