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Mom's Guide to Vitamins and Minerals

BY SAMANTHA RAMOS-ZARAGOZA

Shifting to a healthy balanced diet becomes even more vital when pregnant and breastfeeding. The best way to get your vitamins and minerals is from natural sources, but making sure you do so can be quite taxing – eminently with the increasing food cravings and aversions while pregnant or the demanding days with baby at home for breastfeeding moms. This is why doctors recommend that you take supplements or a prenatal vitamin during these stages of your life. Before you drive yourself bonkers understanding an array of vitamins and minerals, get to know the essential ones you will need, their easily obtainable natural sources, and how much your body needs for a healthy baby and you. 

Folic Acid

A pregnant woman should take in 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. This helps prevent the birth defect spina bifida. It’s advisable to take folic acid when you reach a childbearing age or start as soon as you conceive. Your doctor may advise you to take a folic acid supplement until you are 12 weeks pregnant.

Natural sources:

Brown rice, green leafy vegetables, and fortified products like margarine, cereals, and bread.

 

Vitamin D

Calcium and phosphate are needed in pregnancy to keep bones and teeth healthy, and vitamin D regulates these. Vitamin D also provides your baby with enough of it for his first few months of life, since lack of vitamin D in children may lead to rickets. Take 10 micrograms daily while pregnant and breastfeeding. 

Natural sources:

Sun exposure is the best source of vitamin D. You do not need to sunbathe to receive this vitamin since your body absorbs enough of it even before you tan. You may also get your dose of vitamin D in eggs, meat, and oily fish.

 

Iron

Iron deficiency leads to anemia. You may feel extra tired when low in iron, which may add to the exhaustion you already experience from being pregnant. If you’re breastfeeding, this is also a very important mineral to take. You’ll be losing blood from delivery and from menstruation, which can also cause fatigue. A daily dose of 27 milligrams is recommended during and after pregnancy.

Natural sources:

Nuts, dried fruit, lean meat, and green leafy vegetables.

Calcium

Your growing baby needs calcium for the development of bones and teeth, a healthy heart, muscles, and nerves. Lactating moms also need calcium. Studies show that women can lose up to 5% of their bone mass while breastfeeding. This may be from your child’s need for the mineral, drawing it from your bones. The recommended daily calcium intake is 1,000 milligrams.

Natural sources:

Dairy products, dried fruit, green leafy vegetables, and fish with edible bones.

 

Vitamin C

Your body needs to fight infection, particularly when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, and vitamin C can help you do that. It also repairs tissue, heals wounds, contributes to healthy skin, and helps your body absorb iron. Your baby will also benefit from it as it’s necessary for collagen building. Just make sure you take no more than 2,000 milligrams a day. Some studies show that too much of it can lead to preterm birth. 

Natural sources:

Citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

 

DHA & EPA

DHA and EPA are omega-3 fatty acids essential for the development of your baby’s brain, nerves, and eyes. A daily dose of 300 milligrams is recommended for pregnant and lactating women.

Natural sources:

Look for quality fish oil to avoid the possibility of ingesting mercury from fresh fish.

Source:

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