Supplementing your diet for your baby's development
It is important to see a medical professional as soon as you find out that you're expecting. Good prenatal care can ensure your baby gets a healthy start in life. This video contains great information on early prenatal care, do's and don'ts in the first trimester and pregnancy nutrition.
Are Prenatal Vitamins Necessary in Pregnancy?
Most women think that prenatal vitamins are a must during pregnancy, and for the most part, they're right. Most of us do not get enough of the vitamins and minerals that are so important to our bodies. That's why a good prenatal vitamin supplement is often recommended. However, the controversy grows about whether prenatal vitamins should be used. Pregnant women need more of almost every vitamin and mineral than women who are not pregnant. Most of these increased nutrient requirements can be met through a carefully planned, nutritious diet, so many believe supplements are not essential. Still, it is highly unlikely that one can eat foods high enough in iron and folic acid to meet current recommendations.
There are over 50 nutrients that are essential for good health when you are pregnant. These are the most critical for you and your growing baby:
- Folic acid - This B vitamin is particularly important before conception and during the first trimester. Folic acid may reduce the risk of neural tube defects, including spina bifida, anencephaly and encephalocele.
- Calcium - This nutrient helps your developing baby form strong bones and teeth.
- Iron - Iron is critical during pregnancy because it develops the red blood cells needed to deliver oxygen to your baby. The amount of iron needed during pregnancy is double the amount recommended for non-pregnant women. Iron is required for the formation of tissue for both your baby and the placenta, and an iron deficiency can lead to anemia during pregnancy.
- Protein - Protein is the main building block for your baby's cells. It will also give you long lasting energy that you'll need as your body continues to adapt and support your growing baby.
- Vitamin A - This vitamin promotes healthy skin, cell growth and resistance to infection.
- Vitamin C - This vitamin is essential for healthy gums, teeth and bones. It also improves iron absorption.
- Vitamin D - Vitamin D helps build your baby's bones and also regulates calcium absorption.
- Potassium - This nutrient important for maintaining fluid balance in cells.
- B vitamins (thiamine, vitamin B6, riboflavin) - Thiamine (B1) is essential for your baby's brain development. Vitamin B6 is vital to your baby's developing brain and nervous system because it helps form new red blood cells. Riboflavin (B2) promotes your baby's bone, muscle and nerve development.
- Zinc - This element aids in the development of your baby's body tissues and may help reduce neural tube defects.
Remember, the goal of prenatal vitamins is to supplement your diet, not to replace it. Eating a balanced diet is still the best nutrition for your baby. Prenatal vitamin supplements cannot make up for poor eating habits.
Foods to Eat During Pregnancy
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
Calcium and Pregnancy
Dairy Products and Pregnancy
Folic Acid and Pregnancy
Caffeine and Pregnancy
Alcohol and Pregnancy
Seafood and Pregnancy