A balanced diet is exactly what a pregnant woman needs. A pregnant woman should eat a wide variety of foods so she can obtain proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fats all of which are necessary for fetal development. Of all the nutrients that are required by a pregnant woman, vitamins have to be focused on as they are supplied in very minute quantities in food. Since foods may not sufficiently supply all the necessary nutrients, nutrient supplements can be taken to boost nutrient availability during pregnancy. We are going to look at nutrient supplements that can be taken by pregnant women;
- Vitamin D – essential in controlling calcium and phosphorus use in the body. Vitamin D supplements help reduce incidences of soft bones in babies (soft bones can cause rickets).
- Vitamin E – is essential in the formation of red blood cells as well as maintaining muscle tissue.
- Vitamin C – an anti-oxidant that prevents tissue damage, increases iron absorption and boosts immune response.
- Thiamin – raises energy levels in the body and assists in nervous system function.
- Niacin – promotes normal nerve function as well as normal GIT function.
- Folic acid – essential in placenta maintenance and prevents neural tube defects
- Calcium – is a building block for bone and teeth. Calcium prevents blood clot formation and plays a crucial role in muscle and nerve function.
- Iron – is essential in the production of hemoglobin. Iron helps prevent anemia and reduces incidences of low birth weight and premature births.
- Zinc – plays a role in insulin and enzyme production
Foods that supply essential vitamins and nutrients during pregnancy
It is possible for pregnant women to avoid taking nutrient supplements and yet have ample vitamins and minerals. Pregnant women can get all the necessary nutrients by simply eating a wide range of foods as different foods are rich in different nutrients. For instance sea foods are rich in vitamins D and B2, B3 and B6. Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Cereals are rich in thiamin. As for minerals foods such as spinach, beef, wheat and bean are rich in iron. Milk is a good source of calcium and zinc can be obtained from foods like chicken, beans, oysters and milk.
Pregnant women are advised to consult a dietician so they can get professional advice on what kind of foods to eat during pregnancy. It is also very important that pregnant women understand that there are also foods that are not recommended. For instance foods that are high in cholesterol are not good at all for pregnant women as they can result in an increase in blood pressure which can cause pregnancy complications and in severe cases leads to miscarriage.
It is wiser to work out a diet that has natural foods as nutrient sources rather than use synthetic nutrient supplements. This is so because such supplements increase the risks of over dose which can complicate pregnancy. Then there are also nutrient supplements such as vitamin A which can cause deformations in developing babies, so such supplements have to be avoided during pregnancy.