Mommies-to-be Part 3: Pregnancy Nutrients & Supplements

I feel that a lot of the focus when you’re pregnant is on what NOT to eat. But what about the foods that you should include, as part of a healthy pregnancy? There are a variety of nutrients that play important roles in pregnancy, that should be included as these ultimately get passed on to your baby via the placenta.




PREGNANCY NUTRIENTS & SUPPLEMENTS


Prenatal supplements are important! In government settings, it is standard practice for these 3 to be issued to pregnant women:

1. Iron

2. Calcium

3. Folic acid

However, in private settings, mothers need to select and purchase prenatal supplements themselves.


A variety of vitamins and minerals are important in pregnancy, but these 3 nutrients are extremely important, that is why prenatal vitamins are encouraged. They can be obtained through eating a balanced diet that includes all food groups, however it is good to take them to ensure your body is getting enough of each (especially in mothers with morning sickness, that might struggle with eating). If you aren’t getting enough via diet or supplements, your body will take from your stores to give to your baby, and you can end up with a deficiency.


Iron

Iron is important as pregnant women have a higher risk of developing anemia. Sufficient iron helps keep up with the supply of blood and oxygen to your baby. A common side effect of iron supplementation can be constipation. If this happens, it can be managed with dietary changes. It is important to take iron tablets separately from calcium tablets (at least 2 hours apart) as calcium can block iron absorption. Some food sources of iron include:


• Meat

• Poultry

• Eggs

• Beans, nuts and seeds

• Dark green leafy vegetables


Calcium

This helps to decrease the risk of high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. It is also needed for fetus bone and teeth development. As previously mentioned, is important to take iron tablets separately from calcium tablets (at least 2 hours apart) as calcium can block iron absorption. Some food sources of calcium include:


• Dairy

• Fish

• Eggs

• Beans

• Oranges

• Dark green leafy vegetables


Folic acid

Folic acid helps with fetus development and to prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. Folic acid should ideally be taken from roughly 12 weeks before falling pregnant, if possible. Some food sources of folic acid include:


• Citrus fruits and juices

• Meat

• Poultry

• Eggs

• Fish

• Beans, nuts and seeds

• Wholegrain foods

• Dark green leafy vegetables


Even if taking supplementation, it is still important to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods to get in a variety of vitamins and minerals.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding nutrients during pregnancy, contact a Registered Dietitian for guidance.



-Amber Kelly (Registered Dietitian, South Africa)

@amberkellydietitian

info@amberkelly.co.za

Recent Posts

See All