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What supplements and vitamins do I need to have a smooth pregnancy?

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What vitamins and minerals should you take during pregnancy? What if you don’t take enough vitamins and minerals? Should I take all of the supplements that others recommend? There is a lot of information about pregnancy supplements, but this blog article will introduce 5 of the most important vitamins and minerals you need and how to optimize your diet.

1. Folic Acid

Folic acid is incredibly important during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy as insufficient amounts can potentially lead to neural tube (the base of the spine and brain) defects. Such neural tube defects could have extreme effects on the fetus, ranging from heart defects, cleft lip and palate, to maybe even death. Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients and there are several ways of obtaining it on a daily basis. You can take folic acid supplements or foods containing folic acid, such as legumes, citrus fruits, avocado, eggs and more. It is recommended to consume 400mcg of folic acid for a normal adult, and 600mcg of folic acid for pregnant women. 

2. Iron 

Iron is a crucial mineral as it helps make hemoglobin, a type of protein in your blood that carries oxygen around your body. Experts suggest that pregnant women consume twice the amount of iron than a normal adult requires to provide iron for the baby to make their own blood. When pregnant, you need around 27mg of iron on a daily basis. There are a lot of foods that are high in iron including: spinach, beans, nuts, lean meat and more. Lack of iron could lead to anemia, premature birth, low birthweight, and other complications.

3. Calcium 

Calcium is a mineral that contributes to the development of your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles, and nerves. Around 1000mg of calcium is required a day during pregnancy. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, leafy greens and soybean products. Lack of intake of calcium can lead to calcium deficiency. Your body could also take the calcium from your bones to give it to your baby, leading to osteoporosis.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D allows your body to absorb calcium, as well as providing support for your bones, nervous system and immune system. Vitamin D also contributes to the fetus’ teeth development. Experts recommend consuming around 10–20 mcg daily. Foods that are high in vitamin D include fatty fish, red meat, egg yolks and most importantly, the sun (albeit not a food). Exercising under the sun can help you stay active and also help you reach the daily required amount of vitamin D. 

5. Iodine

Iodine is a vital mineral that contributes to the development of your baby’s nervous system, and allows you to create thyroid hormones. The nervous system includes the formation of the brain, spinal cord and nerves, which gives your baby the ability to feel, move and think. Foods with high amounts of iodine include fish, dairy products, shrimp and eggs, but you can also take supplements if needed.

When should I take the vitamins and minerals mentioned above?

It is important to meet the requirements regarding the vitamin and minerals throughout pregnancy, but most importantly the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Studies show that the fetus develops the most during this time, which is why you need to pay close attention to your diet. It is important to prioritise the intake of vitamins and minerals, whether that is from your diet or additional supplements. 

If you are unable to meet the requirements of the vitamins and minerals needed on a daily basis, ask your doctor regarding whether you need to take supplements to meet the daily requirements. Remember that these are just general recommendations, you should consult your doctor for your specific needs if required.

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