10 Vitamins and Minerals Your Body Needs During Pregnancy
by Ethel Huizar
Pregnancy comes with tremendous transformations for you and your baby, and keeping your health in check is now your primary priority. Part of a healthy diet as a soon-to-be mom includes proper vitamins and minerals to ensure an optimally healthy pregnancy. Of course, consult with your doctor or midwife before beginning a new supplement.
10 Vitamins and Minerals You Need During Pregnancy
1. Vitamin A
One important rule in the consumption of Vitamin A is that you need to consume it together with healthy fats, as the vitamin is soluble in fat – therefore, it will be better absorbed and become more efficient.
- Your Benefits: it supports the health of your eyes and skin, but also your teeth — being essential for genetic transcription, immune system boost, and protection of vision.
- Baby’s Benefits: it allows healthy eye, bone and skin development.
- Resources: carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, broccoli), lettuce, dried apricots, cooked tuna fish, sweet red peppers, cantaloupe, liver, eggs, milk, mango, and peas.
2. Vitamin B
- Vitamin B 1 (Thiamin): it regulates the nervous system, and raises energy levels for both you and your baby. The best foods for thiamin are: organ meats, eggs, rice, pasta, berries, nuts, whole grain, fortified cereals, vegetables, pork and wheat germs.
- Vitamin B 2 (Riboflavin): improves visual neural networks and boosts eyesight for both you and baby, contributes to skin health, and maintains energy levels. Foods rich in riboflavin are: eggs, dairy products, fish, meats, and poultry.
- Vitamin B 3 (Niacin): boost the nerves’ functioning and boosts your digestive system’s health, with added benefits for your skin. Some of the best sources of niacin are: meats, eggs, fish, milk, nuts, and fortified cereals.
- Vitamin B 6 (Pyridoxine): excellent for the strength of your nervous system, the vitamin also boosts the formation of red blood cells for you and your baby, being a great adjuvant to help you alleviate morning sickness. Foods to consider: poultry, fish, liver and other organ meats, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, bananas, beans, brown rice, oats.
- Vitamin B 12 (Cobalamin): this vitamin is essential for DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, brain functions and neurological development. B 12 is bound to proteins, thus it is found in fish, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. It also comes as a supplement and is added to some foods (like fortified cereals), as it can’t be taken from vegetables or fruits. According to national health experts, vitamin B 12 is the engine of a healthy pregnancy, and you should consider talking to your doctor about recommended daily intake or supplementation.
3. Vitamin C
- Your Benefits: It is an antioxidant that protects cells and tissue, strengthens blood vessels and boosts skin elasticity. It also contributes to better iron absorption.
- Baby’s Benefits: builds a healthier immune system and allows better iron absorption.
- Resources: citrus fruits, broccoli, guava, green and red peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, papaya and other exotic fruits.
4. Vitamin D
- Your Benefits: promotes the health of teeth and bones, and helps with the absorption and efficient use of calcium and phosphorous.
- Baby’s Benefits: promotes the healthy development of bones, and enhances the calcium metabolism throughout the body.
- Resources: fish, mushrooms, milk, eggs.
5. Vitamin E
- Your Benefits: it helps your body form and use red blood cells, also strengthening the muscular system and the tissue of the internal organs.
- Baby’s Benefits: improves red blood cell formation, enhances blood circulation, and ensures protection from free radicals, also contributing to the healthy development of muscles.
- Resources: spinach, nuts (with an emphasis on almonds), vegetable oil, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, wheat germs, fortified cereals.
Minerals, Fatty Acids, and Other Compounds You Need During Pregnancy
Besides these aforementioned vitamins, you also need plenty of minerals and other substances to ensure the health of both you and your baby.
- Your Benefits: it protects your bone density, and prevents high blood pressure during pregnancy. It also prevents blood clots, and strengthens muscle and nervous system functioning.
- Baby’s Benefits: calcium ensures the proper development of bones and teeth.
- Resources: dairy products, soy milk, fish, bread, fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, orange juice.
- Your Benefits: by helping the production of hemoglobin, iron prevents anemia, low birth weight, and premature delivery, and helps to strengthen your muscular system.
- Baby’s Benefits: strengthens the muscular system, helps with the development of a healthy blood circulatory system — preventing anemia and premature delivery.
- Sources: clams, oysters, organ meats (liver), beans, lentils, spinach, fortified cereals, dried fruits, wheat germs, oatmeal, grains, beef and pork.
8. Folic Acid
- Your Benefits: prevents anemia and cell renewal, supporting your placenta.
- Baby’s Benefits: during the first months of pregnancy, folic acid prevents spinal cord birth defects (spina bifida) and other neural tube defects. It also prevents early miscarriage and premature delivery.
- Resources: dark leafy greens, asparagus, beans, broccoli, citrus fruits, peas, pasta, fortified cereals, beets, cauliflower, nuts, strawberries, seeds, and corn.
- Your Benefits: enhances the strength of your bone system while preventing high blood pressure.
- Baby’s Benefits: enhances brain development and functions, preventing problems at the spinal cord and neural system, and prevents neural tube birth defects.
- Resources: poultry, pork, beef, fish (with an emphasis on cod and tuna), eggs, broccoli, and cauliflower.
10. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Your Benefits: reduces the risk of heart disease during pregnancy and later in life.
- Baby’s Benefits: helps with the development of vision and brain functions.
- Resources: fish and seafood (and most importantly salmon, tuna, crab, catfish, clams, and oysters), and eggs.
These are most of the essential vitamins and minerals you need to know about and include in your diet during your pregnancy. As always, check with your doctor or midwife and make sure you are working together to ensure the healthiest pregnancy for you and your baby.