Essential Nutrients During Pregnancy

Featured Article, Nutrition, Reproductive Health, Women's Health
on June 24, 2011
Pregnant woman holding vitamin pills
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Getting the right vitamins and nutrients is important for keeping a soon-to-be-mom and her unborn child or children healthy and developing properly. Because pregnancy can go undetected during the first few weeks, a key time in fetal development, it is important to take certain essential nutrients up to a year before you attempt to conceive and then to continue doing so while pregnant.

Folic acid. This vitamin is key to developing healthy and protected neural pathways in your growing baby. According to the March of Dimes Foundation, folic acid has been shown to prevent some birth defects, including neural tube defect, when 400 micrograms are taken daily before and during pregnancy.

Iron. Iron is an integral part of developing strong muscles. An article published by the University of Rochester Medical Center says that anywhere from a third to more than half of women are iron-deficient. This can hinder brain development in an unborn child, making iron one of the most important prenatal vitamins to take.

Vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D and calcium work in tandem to build and strengthen bones and teeth. Vitamin D allows calcium to be absorbed and incorporated into bones not only for the mother, but also for her baby.

Zinc. Zinc can increase your fertility, making it an ideal vitamin to take when you are trying to conceive. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, continuing to take at least 11 to 12 milligrams daily will aid in the development of a strong immune system. A study published by the Hanson Institute and Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science also indicates that zinc may help counteract effects of early alcohol exposure in infants.

Exercise caution. While these essential nutrients are important, taking too many can be dangerous. If you already eat nutrient-dense foods or are taking a daily multivitamin, you may run the risk of overdosing on particular vitamins like folic acid. Consult your physician before adding any supplement to your daily diet.

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