Mamahood & Me

Pregnancy Super Nutrients

 Pregnancy Super Nutrients

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Vitamin A

Is an essential vitamin for the development of baby’s eyes, lungs, and skin and is also important for mum’s immune system. 

Vitamin A is available in two forms: Retinol: found in foods of animal origin

Beta-carotene: found in fruit and vegetables which the body converts into vitamin A.

Interesting fact...Beta-carotene cannot be absorbed effectively by the body without the presence of avocado! So pair your good sources below with a nice ripe one...

Good sources include; yogurt, eggs, apricots, sweet potatoes, carrots, green leafy veg.

Certain foods high in retinol,the animal source of vitamin A, should be avoided during pregnancy and this includes liver and cod liver oil. 

 B Vitamins

It is important for an expectant mother to include all the B vitamins, as they play an important role in energy production.

However, of all the B vitamins the most important to include during pregnancy is folic acid: it prevents neural tube defects, serious birth complications of the brain (like anencephaly) and spinal cord (like spina bifida). The neural tube is a section of the embryo from where your baby’s brain and spine develop. 

Good sources include;

Asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, strawberries

Vitamin B12 works with folic acid and helps with

nervous system growth. B12 is essential for the

production of red blood cells.

Good sources include eggs, fish, meat, yeast extract.

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Vitamin C

Is a powerful antioxidant, essential for growth, repair and fighting off infection. This vitamin is very useful for mum around time of birth to help her recover from any damage caused by tears or surgery. It is an important vitamin in the maintenance and repair of bones and teeth. 

Good sources include; red peppers, watercress, tomatoes, strawberries, broccoli. 

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Vitamin D

is essential as it helps calcium to be absorbed into bones.  It is also associated with mood and depression, those with adequate amounts have been shown to have less susceptibility to ante and post natal depression.  Vitamin D deficiency is associated with bacterial vaginosis in pregnant women. Low maternal vitamin D intake in pregnancy is associated with wheeze and asthma in the offspring.

Good sources include; the sun, mushrooms grown in the sun, oily fish, eggs

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Vitamin E

Vitamin E works in synergy with Vitamin C to help rid the body of damaging free radicals and oxidative stress, hence they are both ‘antioxidants’. Once in the body vitamin E travels to the polyunsaturated fatty acids in cell membranes, where it protects them. Vitamins A, D, E and K are all fat soluble - so eating enough good fats in your diet such as avocados, cold pressed olive oil, and nuts are essential for their absorption. Vitamin E helps the body use vitamin K, and as vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, it is beneficial for mum to have adequate amounts of both vitamins especially around the time of her due date. The WHO recommends avoiding Vitamin E supplements during pregnancy as there is some evidence that it can be detrimental, however, natural food sources of this vitamin

have a beneficial rather than detrimental effect. 

Good sources include: almonds, avocados,olives, spinach.

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Vitamin K

Vitamin K is actually a group of compounds and the key ones are Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2. The main function of all types of vitamin K is blood clotting, vitamin K2 plays an important role in the formation of teeth and strong bones. Vitamin K occurs naturally in many foods so the baby will get a certain level while in utero. After birth colostrum contains more vitamin K than later breast milk.

Although cases of vitamin K deficiency bleeding are relatively rare, the consequences in babies can be very serious. To make sure they have a sufficient amount, babies can be given an injection of vitamin K or an oral dose at birth.

Midwives or Doulas will be the best people to advise on this.

Good sources include; 

Vitamin K2  - meat, dairy & eggs from pastured animals, natto

Vitamin K1 – green leafy vegetables

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Calcium

The most abundant mineral in the body. The body can be depleted of calcium by high consumption of alcohol, sodium and caffeine none of which should be likely during pregnancy!                     

Alongside its well known importance in the formation of strong bones, calcium is also an essential mineral in muscle contraction and blood clotting - especially important around the time of birth. Baby retains about 240mg of calcium daily in the last trimester, so make sure enough calcium rich foods are consumed:

100g of almonds for example contains around 230mg of calcium and 75g sardines provides 325mg of calcium. Throughout pregnancy mum should have 1000mg daily.

Good sources include; Sardines, dark leafy greens, sesame seeds, raw almonds, broccoli, mature cheddar cheese. 

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Chromium

This trace mineral can improve the action of insulin and plays a role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This in turn helps to stabilise blood sugar levels, which reduces the chance of gestational diabetes and high birth weight. 

Good sources include; whole grains, broccoli, tomatoes, green beans

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Iron

Essential for a healthy rapid cell division at the start of gestation. It is also used in the production of red blood cells, brain development, growth, conversion of blood sugar to energy and cell function. 

Good sources include; lentils, pumpkin seeds,

grass fed meat, legumes, spinach, fish & eggs

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Zinc 

Is a component of DNA & RNA and is especially important for the growing foetus for the development of reproductive organs and the brain. 

Good sources include; grass fed beef & lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, quinoa, asparagus. 

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Magnesium

Magnesium is important for energy metabolism, nerve conduction, muscle activity, immune function, and DNA synthesis and degradation. Magnesium also plays a structural role in the bones and aids bone formation. So during pregnancy, the demand for magnesium increases.

Magnesium  known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’, helps if you are suffering from tension and/or stress. It’s also a good basic treatment for insomnia.

Good sources include; dark leafy greens, quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat

Iodine

Iodine boosts brain development in the womb and deficiency during pregnancy can lead to learning difficulties. The iodine content of plant foods depends on the iodine content of the soil and consequently varies tremendously. The iodine content of dairy is also variable depending on their feed. White fish is a good source. Seaweed is a good insurance against deficiency but should be used with caution. Just 15g of kelp will provide all the iodine you need in a year.  Try using dried powdered kelp as a condiment.   

Vitamins and minerals work in synergy with each other and with protein, fat and carbohydrate. This is why eating a balanced diet is so essential - in order for the body to absorb and utilise one nutrient it must have access to others