Zinc is critical for two reasons: proper growth and for developing a healthy immune system for the baby. Studies suggest that inadequate zinc may even cause immune deficiency in the next generation (i.e., your grandchild) as well. Be sure to get at least 15 milligrams per day of zinc in your diet, which can be found in high protein foods such as meat and beans.
- FOLIC ACID
Getting enough folic acid is critical both before and during pregnancy to help assure proper growth and to prevent birth defects. It is present in deep green, leafy vegetables. Women should get at least 400 to 800 micrograms per day.
Magnesium deficiency is routine in the North American diet and can increase the possibility of high blood pressure and seizures during pregnancy, a condition known as eclampsia. Taking the proper amount of magnesium a day also helps to decrease the leg cramps and constipation often experienced during pregnancy. In addition, magnesium is critical for more than 300 other body functions and will generally help you to feel a lot healthier.
- B VITAMINS
These are critical for energy, mental clarity and to prevent depression. B vitamins have also been found to improve pregnancy-related complications such as gestational diabetes.Take approximately 25 to 50 milligrams a day of B vitamins and plenty of vitamin B12 for normal nerve function.
- FISH OILS
The human brain is made predominantly of DHA, an essential fatty acid found in fish oils. Perhaps this is why there is an old wives’ tale about fish being a brain food. Regardless, DHA deficiency is very common and it is critical that pregnant women get adequate fish oils so that their baby can develop healthy and optimal brain tissue.
Ideally, pregnant women should have an intake of 1,500 milligrams of calcium per day. It is best to take this at night (it helps with sleep) in the liquid, powdered or chewable form. Each cup of milk or yogurt contains 400 milligrams of calcium.
Approximately 18 to 36 milligrams of iron per day can be helpful. Interestingly, iron deficiency can sometimes cause infertility. Also, pregnant women who don’t get enough iron are at risk for anemia, fatigue, poor memory and decreased immune function.
Be sure to drink plenty of water. When pregnant, blood volume can increase about 30 percent and it is easy to become dehydrated. If your mouth or lips are dry, drink more! Adequate salt is also helpful in preventing dehydration (less so if you have problems with fluid retention).
- Check your THYROID
Millions of women suffer from an underactive metabolism, also known as hypothyroidism, which often goes undiagnosed. Hypothyroidism accounts for more than 6 percent of miscarriages and can be cause for learning disabilities in the child. If you were on thyroid medication before getting pregnant, it is normal to increase the dose during pregnancy.
- What Pregnant Women should Avoid
A few cautions for pregnant women: avoid taking more than 8,000 units of vitamin A per day. Most pregnant women are also, of course, aware that smoking, drugs and alcohol should all be avoided during pregnancy. Exercise, on the other hand, has been shown to be very beneficial and results in babies and moms that are quite healthy.
Written by: Tina I URETEN, MD, RDMS, RDCS