Sallys Pregnancy Secrets

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Nutrients Essential to Prenatal Development

During pregnancy, your developing baby receives all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients necessary for healthy growth. Whether it comes from your body’s stores or your diet, it is essential to make sure that everything they need is available to them!

Topping the list in early pregnancy is folic acid, or folate. In the first three weeks of pregnancy, your baby is forming a brain and spinal cord. A folic acid deficiency can lead to neural tube defects and other debilitating birth defects. Orange juice, lentils, peas and beans are all great sources of folic acid, but you should still take a supplement with at least 0.4mg per day.

Calcium aids in the development of strong, healthy bones and teeth. Without enough calcium in your diet, the fetus will actually take it from your bones, resulting in a deficiency in your own body. Drink plenty of milk and eat hard cheeses, yogurt and salmon to get your 1000mg per day.

Protein is vital to your developing baby. It also helps your body to repair cells that are damaged or changing during pregnancy. You can find your 60g per day in meat, poultry, dried beans or nuts.

Your body’s need for iron will nearly double during pregnancy as you work to produce extra blood. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, low birth weight and even preterm delivery. You will need at least 27mg of elemental iron per day. If you aren’t getting enough in your diet by choosing iron-rich food such as spinach, tofu, lean meat or nuts, your doctor may recommend a supplement. Vitamin C also aids the body in absorbing iron, so eat the food or take your supplement with a Vitamin C-rich option such as orange juice or cantaloupe.

Choline is a nutrient that many pregnant women don’t have enough of in their daily diet. It is crucial for normal fetal brain development, yet the average American gets only 314 of the 425mg recommended daily (the National Institute of Health, http://www.medindia.net/news/view_news_main.asp?x=14088). Choline is found in high levels in soy lecithin, beef liver and egg yolks.

Vitamins, especially those in the B family, are important in fetal development. Be sure to get your recommended daily intake of thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B5), pyridoxine (B6), pantothenic acid (B12), and biotin. Your everyday diet should provide sufficient amounts of these vitamins, but eating fortified cereals and whole grain breads will help.

Iodine is a trace element that helps to prevent brain defects. A condition called goitre can result from a lack of iodine in countries such as South Africa where iodine levels are low or nonexistent in soil, plants and fish. In these areas, iodized salt can help to supply iodine in the diet, but remember that excessive use of salt can be dangerous. As always, moderation is the key.

Essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6 are also necessary in prenatal development. Omega-6 comes from canola oil, soft margarine and other plant oils. Omega-3 is found mostly in fish, which pregnant women may not eat during pregnancy. Ask your doctor or midwife about a supplement.

Incorporating healthy, nutrient-rich foods into your everyday diet, along with an approved supplement, is the key to ensuring good prenatal health.

Article written by Sally Aubrey

For more information on keeping excellent health for your and your baby just go to www.amazingpregnancysecrets.com

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