Essential Minerals for Healthy Pregnancy
Folic acid during pregnancy is recognized as the paramount prenatal supplement because a lack of it can cause neural tube defects in the developing fetus.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences recommends, “all women capable of becoming pregnant consume 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods and/or supplements in addition to intake of food folate from a varied diet.
This water-soluble B vitamin is incorporated in the body into a coenzyme necessary for DNA synthesis, which is vital to cell growth and proliferation, both of which are critical to fetal development.
RDA for Folic Acid During Pregnancy is 400 mcg Daily.
Why is Folic Acid So Important?
- Folic acid helps the body form red blood cells and aids in the formation of genetic material within every body cell.
- Plays a role in reducing blood homocysteine levels.
- Formation of red blood cells.
- Protein metabolism.
- Cell growth and division.
- Prevention of neural tube defects and anencephaly.
- Healthy cell growth and proliferation.
- Folic acid is thought to play a major role in preventing neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. To effectively prevent these defects, folic acid must be present in the diet before conception.
Sources of Folic Acid
Asparagus, oranges, beans, spinach, liver, broccoli, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, cheese, chicken, dates, green leafy vegetables, lamb, legumes, lentils, milk, mushrooms, split peas, root vegetables, salmon, wheat germ, whole grains, amaranth, chicory, dandelion, and lamb’s quarter.
Folate can be lost from foods during preparation, cooking, or storage.
Tips to Help Foods Maintain Folic Acid
- Serve fruits and vegetables raw whenever possible.
- Steam, boil, or simmer vegetables in a minimal amount of water.
- Store vegetables in the refrigerator.
Why Iron During Pregnancy Is Important
A woman’s blood volume increases by 50% during pregnancy to transport sufficient oxygen to the fetus.
One of the most common complications of pregnancy is anemia.
Decreased iron increases the mother’s risk of preeclampsia.
Inadequate maternal iron stores can lead to a difficult labor.
Iron is particularly critical in the last trimester of pregnancy when the fetus and the placenta store the mineral.
The average daily requirement for iron during pregnancy is 30 to 48 mg daily.
To meet these requirements its important choose foods wisely.
Tips for getting the most iron from your diet.
Eat high-iron meals with vitamin C or foods high in vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption.
Other nutrients that aid in the absorption, assimilation, and utilization of iron include: Niacin, B1, B2, pantothenic acid, choline, B12, folic acid, calcium, cobalt, and copper.
Eating a well-rounded diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will ensure adequate amounts of these nutrients.
Avoid things that can inhibit iron absorption:
- Cigarette smoke and other air pollutants.
- Tannic acid, caffeine, and phosphates.
- Antacids; they neutralize stomach acids, which enhance iron absorption.
- Laxatives; decrease the amount of time the body has to absorb iron.
- Refined carbohydrates; cause the secretion of more-alkaline digestive juices, which decrease the acidity of the stomach.
- Do not take iron supplements or high-iron meals with dairy products, which neutralizes stomach acidity.
- Large doses of supplemental zinc or calcium interfere with iron absorption.
Use leavened whole grains; yeast in the fermentation process makes iron available.
Do not rely on iron-fortified foods; iron used by manufacturers is often a phosphate compound not soluble in the human digestive tract.
Cast-iron cookware adds iron to food, especially if the food cooked in it is acidic.
Regular aerobic exercise improves iron absorption because of the body’s greater need for oxygen-carrying capacity.
Sources of Iron
- Red Meats (especially organ meats)
- Whole Grains
- Dark Green Leafy Vegetables
- Nuts and Seeds
- Blackstrap Molasses
- Nutritional Yeast
- Dried Fruit