Vitamins have always played a crucial role in overall health management. These are the pillars that support each and every organ of the body in order to maintain proper functioning and good health.
Pregnancy calls for acute health stability and normal diets would not just suffice the increasing demands of health. There are some vitamins, which are needed in added amounts while one is pregnant.
Healthy diet obviously incorporates generous doses of vitamins but pregnancy is not just another daily affair. It requires more attention and care.
The first thing that comes to the mind while we talk about vitamins and nutrition during pregnancy and most of us immediately tend to incline towards folic acid.
It is the miraculous effectiveness of vitamins like these that carve the path to a normal pregnancy without any health hazards involved.
Folic Acid and its Benefits:
This chief vitamin plays a decisively major role in our diet. Generally Folic acid is attributed to the guard of shiny hair, skin etc.
So taking Folic acid supplements as per health requirements and making it fully a boon for your pregnancy has got to be dependent on the doses, as per the doctor’s recommendation. It is actually great for cell regeneration and is a fabulous cancer-inhibitor.
Anemia during pregnancy is a very common problem, as the body needs more vigorous blood-supply. So folic acid comes to the rescue in such a situation.
Actually Folic acid is a form of Vitamin B, namely Folate. It generates RBCs and works as a buffer for the neural tube and brain.
When to take Folic acid?- It has been observed that a child generally develops birth defects during the third or the fourth week.
So it is usually suggested that incorporation of Folate during this phase is to be started. Even before a woman plans to conceive, prenatal Folic Acid supplements are very much beneficial.
Premature delivery risks can be safely obliterated if one at least starts taking supplements form a year before. Scientific researchers have exhibited how wonderfully Folic Acid reduces the risk by a whopping 50%.
Dose- usually the dosage of Folic acid is determined to be around 400mcg. It is to be taken both before and after the pregnancy phase as that would support your child as well as you from any defective disorder. Taking it every day and skipping doses are not advisable for your own sake.
- During the phase of conceiving the dose is- 400mcg.
- During the first 3 months of pregnancy- 400mcg.
- During 4 to 9 months of pregnancy- 600mcg.
- During breastfeeding- 500mcg
What are the total benefits of Folic acid- Usually it has been observed that a serious lack of folic acid can lead to diseases like Anencephaly and Spina bifida- both being incomplete development of the spine and brain, respectively.
Anencephaly is so dangerous that children having it may die soon. Thus folic acid reduces the propensity of preeclampsia, cardiac diseases, Alzheimer’s, miscarriage and low body weight of the newborn.
Sources of Folic Acid-
- Lentils, cooked or boiled
- Spinach and all other leafy veggies
- Great Northern beans
- Beef liver
Vitamin D and its Benefits:
What is Vitamin D? – This crucial vitamin acts as a regulator of phosphates and calcium in human body. Calcium and phosphate are necessary to maintain health of the teeth, bones and the muscles.
Usually our bodies produce Vitamin D after an exposure to the sun-rays. The total time needed for the skin to generate it is unknown and thus sun protective factors are to be considered.
Pregnant women do need the sufficient amount of it so that the child is born with stronger bones and muscles, and she herself would not fall prey to decaying bones.
Dose- The dose for Vitamin D, if taken as supplements after thoroughly consulting with the doctor, is around 10mcg a day.
Melanin amount also determines Vitamin D formation- it is not correct to say that a darkened skin has more Vitamin D, though exposure to sun is more. Do not get scorched and talk to the midwife or the gynecologist about the right amount of sun exposure you need.
Sources of Vitamin D
In general Vitamin D is available in calcium rich and phosphate rich foods, which obviously imply that meat, milk etc. are fantastic sources.
- Fatty fishes, like salmon, mackerel or tuna are vitamin-D rich.
- Dairy products like milk, cheese are enriched sources.
- Egg yolks do contain a good portion of Vitamin D.
- Fruits like orange give a punch of vitamin D too.
- Soy milk is also good for vitamin D needs.
Vitamin C and its Benefits:
What is Vitamin C? - Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is basically a collagen builder. It is very good for repairing tissues and making skin livelier. Its antioxidant properties are ideal for battling against flu and infections. Pregnant women are prone to such minor health issues, thus, Vitamin C intake would successfully combat any health or skin problem.
Benefits of Vitamin C- Ascorbic acid actually is amply needed for good amount of collagen production. Now, collagen is a constituting part of the bones, tendons, skin and cartilage. It is a structural protein which is produced profusely if one has sufficient supply of Vitamin C in the body. In case of iron absorption, which is so very necessary during pregnancy, Vitamin C helps beyond bounds.
Dose of Vitamin C- Vitamin C dosage is dependent on various intrinsic and extrinsic factors as well. Age and status of pregnancy are decisive points before taking it.
- Pregnant females who are lesser than 18years of age: 80 mg per day.
- Pregnant females of 19 or older age: 85mg a day.
- Breastfeeding females of 18 or younger: 115mg a day.
- Breastfeeding females of 19 and above: 120 mg in a day
Sources of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is packed in most citrus and juicy fruits. They are not only tasty but superbly nutritious for pregnant or lactating women. It also provides with sufficient energy and helps to flush out toxins from the body. It hydrates and boosts skin as well.
- Mere 6 ounces of the juice of orange can provide 62-93 mg Vitamin C.
- 62 to 70mg of Vitamin C can be gained from 6 ounces of grapefruit juice.
- Kiwi can provide 91mg while 1 cup strawberries can provide 85mg of Vitamin C.
- Blackcurrants too have a good store of Vitamin C.
- Even baked potatoes, spinach or tomatoes are best sources of Vitamin C.
However it is to be noted that vitamin C supplements should not be taken as per the will of the pregnant lady. It is advisable that one consumes it only after talking to the doctor.
A vitamin C deficiency can really lead to fatigue and tiredness. It can also involve dryness of skin, cuts of skin or bruises.
Iron and its Benefits:
What is Iron? – It is actually a crucial component of the hemoglobin, a matter in RBC, which acts as a carrier of oxygen. It is very much important to have sufficient deposits of iron in our body. Pregnant women should positively have a rich store of it, in order to keep anemia at bay. Anemia during pregnancy can be fatal and harmful for both the mother and the child. Iron helps to prevent premature delivery or any instance of low body weight.
Doses of Iron- doctors preferably recommend a dosage of 22mg a day in case of pregnant women. But if the concerned female has lower amounts of it, then the dosage is increased up to 27mg per day.
Sources of Iron:
Iron sources are amply available in or diets. The judicious selection of veggies and fruits would superbly satiate the iron needs of a pregnant lady’s body. Generally, iron is found in sufficient amounts in-
- Red meat is a wonderful source for having enough iron. Along with that, you can have a good boost of protein and zinc resources.
- Lean meat like chicken or fish also stacks a comparably good store of iron content.
- Nothing can beat green leafy vegetables in case of rich iron sources.
- Breakfast cereals and legumes are often advised by dietitian to be incorporated in the diet for curing iron deficit, especially in vegan women.
- Iron absorbing foods like juices, broccoli, tomato and capsicums are also useful.
Despite these benefits, Iron must not be consumed in overtly large amounts as it can propel constipation or headaches. It can even make the health condition worse, so it is strictly recommended to stick to the doses.
Iodine and its Benefits:
This mineral plays a very important role for a pregnant woman especially. Though it is needed in a tiny amount, its importance cannot be obliterated at all. Any sort of deficiency can lead to deformation of the baby and can eve risk the action of the thyroid glands. It can even make your body temperature abnormally fluctuate. Blood cell production, a crucial part of pregnancy is also controlled by iodine.
Doses- The dose of Iodine is determined by age, location and dietary habits. It must be administered properly as per the needs of the body. 220mcg iodine has been chalked out as the perfect amount of having the mineral in case of pregnant women. In case of breastfeeding or lactating women the dosage amount can vary from 100mcg to 200mcg, as per the requirements.
Sources of Iodine:
Iodine is very much available in seafood, due to the highly saline contents. Some iodine-enriched foods are:
- Kelp, Kombu, Hiziki, Wakame etc. along with fish like sardines have good amount of iodine.
- Organic yogurt, beans and organic cheese have been proven as great iodine sources.
- Cranberries are definitely the most amazing source of iodine along with antioxidants, fabulous source of iodine, especially for pregnant women.
- Iodine content in vegetables and other fruits are solely dependent on the iodine amount in the local soil.
Zinc and its Benefits:
Zinc has a very prominent role to play in the human body. It is the prime regulator of gene expressions and is absolutely a necessity for cell regeneration. Any pregnant woman would also have to take care of the zinc intake in order to deliver a normal and healthy child.
This nutritive element is always recommended by doctors to those women who are about to conceive or are pregnant. Lactating women should also stick to it as it helps to retain the structural integrity of the proteins as well.
Doses- Usually doctors prescribe that a pregnant woman can take up to 11mg of Zinc a day. But the average dosage is around 9mg per day.
Sources of Zinc in food:
There are actually innumerable zinc sources. Despite of it being required in smaller portions the total number of foods having it is huge. They are:
- Nothing can be compared to seafood while fishing out zinc sources.
- Beef and lamb have almost 12.3mg of zinc per 100mg.
- Toasted wheat germ, pumpkin and squash seeds, cashew nuts, chickpeas and beans and mushrooms etc. are useful zinc sources.
Calcium and its Benefits:
Calcium since time immemorial has been the most vital agent of teeth and bone building. In case of pregnant women the amount of requisite calcium becomes increased in order to support both the fetus and the mother.
Not only that, a proper store of calcium does give your baby a healthy heart, strong nerves and absolutely normal heartbeat. It has even been scientifically proven that blood-clotting abilities of the child are enhanced by calcium.
Doses of calcium- the dose of calcium intake is inherently embedded in the intrinsic and external factors too. Age and calcium deposits are to be considered before taking supplements or having calcium rich food. The usual quantity of calcium needed is:
- Pregnant Females aged between 19-50: 100mg a day( before, during, as well as after pregnancy)
- Pregnant Females of 18 years or lower: 1300mg per day(before, during, as well as after pregnancy)
Henceforth these are the most vital vitamins and nutritive elements required by any woman planning or undergoing pregnancy.