Four Important Nutrients For Pregnant Women

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Many (but not all) daily nutrient requirements increase during pregnancy. Whether you’re choosing a prenatal vitamin or selecting a snack to curb your pregnancy cravings, keep in mind that your body needs more of these four when you’re eating for two:
  • B-vitamin complex - especially folate: While the recommended intakes for most B vitamins increase during pregnancy, the DRI for folate (Vitamin B9) in particular jumps dramatically. Folate is a crucial component of any mom-to-be’s diet, as it may prevent autism. Beware the synthetic form called folic acid - studies have shown that it is associated with maternal infection and an abnormally slow fetal heart rate (Hudson, 2008). It’s safest to supplement with a whole-foods source (look for “folate” on the label) or get the proper intake through food sources like leafy greens (think: foliage), black-eyed peas, brewer’s yeast, liver, or beans.

  • Magnesium: The RDA of magnesium is between 350-400 mg/day for pregnant women, but many nutritional experts feel it could be even more, and insufficient intake is common (Murray, Pizzorno & Pizzorno, 2005). Deficiency is associated with preeclampsia and poor fetal growth. You can try an absorbable supplement form such as magnesium glycinate, or you can simply add lots of magnesium-rich foods to your diet such as pumpkin seeds, sea vegetables, almonds, cashews, brewer’s yeast and leafy greens.

  • Iron: Even a slight deficiency can lead to learning disabilities in the developing child, but don’t take an iron supplement unless your doctor recommends it (Murray, Pizzorno & Pizzorno, 2005). Excess iron isn’t easily excreted, and just like iron rusts when it’s left outside, it can also oxidize in the body to create free radical damage and inflammation. You can easily get sufficient iron from eating animal products like clams, steak, shrimp, turkey and chicken.

Hudson, T. (2008). Women’s Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Pregnancy. McGraw Hill: New York.

Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.Designing a Healthy Diet. New York: Atria.

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