Today we’ll talk about giving your body the nutrition it needs. You’ll note several mentions about the negative consequences of overdosing on specific vitamins. You must understand that this overdose very rarely occurs because of the foods you eat. More often it is because mothers have chosen to consume extra supplements in an attempt to “help” their baby or they have forgotten to tell their physician about other vitamins and supplements they take on a regular basis.
Be sure when you go in for your prenatal appointments that your physician knows exactly what vitamins, medications and supplements (including herbal) you take, regardless of how insignificant you may believe them to be.
Vitamin A helps the development of baby’s bones and teeth, as well as their heart, ears, eyes and immune system (the body system that fights infection). Vitamin A deficiency has been associated with vision problems, which is why your mom always told you to eat your carrots when you were a kid! Getting enough Vitamin A during pregnancy will also help your body repair the damage caused by childbirth.
Pregnant women should consume at least 770 micrograms (or 2565 IU, as it is labeled on nutritional labels) of Vitamin A per day, and that number almost doubles when nursing to 1300 micrograms (4,330 IU). Be aware, however, that overdosing on Vitamin A can cause birth defects and liver toxicity.
Your maximum intake should be 3000 mcg (10,000 IU) per day. Vitamin A can be found in liver, carrots, sweet potatoes, kale spinach collard greens, cantaloupe, eggs, mangos and peas.
Also known as Pyridoxine, Vitamin B6 helps your baby’s brain and nervous system develop. It also helps Mom and baby develop new red blood cells. Oddly enough, B6 has been known to help alleviate morning sickness in some pregnant women. Pregnant women should consume at least 1.9 mg per day of Vitamin B6. That amount rises slightly when nursing to 2.0 mg per day. Vitamin B6 can be found in fortified cereals, as well as bananas, baked potatoes, watermelon, chick peas and chicken breast.
Vitamin B12 works hand in hand with folic acid to help both Mom and baby produce healthy red blood cells, and it helps develop the fetal brain and nervous system. The body stores years’ worth of B12 away, so unless you are a vegan or suffer from pernicious anemia the likelihood of a B12 deficiency is very slim.
Pregnant women should consume at least 2.6 mcg (104 IU) of B12per day, nursing mothers 2.8 mcg (112 IU). Vitamin B12 can be found in red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs and dairy foods.
If you are a vegan you will be able to find B12 fortified tofu and soymilk. Other foods are fortified at the manufacturer’s discretion.
Vitamin C helps the body to absorb iron and build a healthy immune system in both mother and baby. It also holds the cells together, helping the body to build tissue. Since the Daily Recommended Allowance of Vitamin C is so easy to consume by eating the right foods supplementation is rarely needed.
Pregnant women should consume at least 80-85 mg of Vitamin C per day, nursing mothers no less than 120 mg per day. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, raspberries, bell peppers, green beans, strawberries, papaya, potatoes, broccoli and tomatoes, as well as in many cough drops and other supplements.
Calcium builds your baby’s bones and helps its brain and heart to function. Calcium intake increases dramatically during pregnancy. Women with calcium deficiency at any point in their lives are more likely to suffer from conditions such as osteoporosis which directly affect the bones.
Pregnant women should consume at least 1200 mg of calcium a day, nursing mothers 1000 mg per day. Calcium can be found in dairy products, such as milk, cheese, yogurt and, to a lesser extent, ice cream, as well as fortified juices, butters and cereals, spinach, broccoli, okra, sweet potatoes, lentils, tofu, Chinese cabbage, kale and broccoli. It is also widely available in supplement form.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, leading to healthy bones for both mother and baby. Women who are pregnant or nursing should consume at least 2000 IU of Vitamin D per day. Since babies need more Vitamin D than adults babies that are only breastfeeding may need a Vitamin D supplement, so if your doctor recommends this don’t worry. You haven’t done anything wrong! Formula is fortified with Vitamin D, so if you are bottle feeding or supplementing with formula your baby is probably getting sufficient amounts of this vital nutrient.
Vitamin D is rarely found in sufficient amounts in ordinary foods. It can, however, be found in milk (most milk is fortified) as well as fortified cereals, eggs and fatty fish like salmon, catfish and mackerel. Vitamin D is also found in sunshine, so women and children found to have a mild Vitamin D deficiency may be told to spend more time in the sun.
Vitamin E helps baby’s body to form and use its muscles and red blood cells. Lack of Vitamin E during pregnancy has been associated with pre-eclampsia (a condition causing excessively high blood pressure and fluid retention) and low birth weight.
On the other hand, Vitamin E overdose has been tentatively associated with stillbirth in mothers who “self medicated” with supplements. Pregnant women should consume at least 20 mg of Vitamin E per day but not more than 540 mg. Vitamin E can be found in naturally in vegetable oil, wheat germ, nuts, spinach and fortified cereals as well as in supplemental form.
Natural Vitamin E is better for your baby than synthetic, so be sure to eat lots of Vitamin E rich foods before you reach for your bottle of supplements.
Also known as Folate or Vitamin B9, Folic Acid is a vital part of your baby’s development. The body uses Folic Acid for the replication of DNA, cell growth and tissue formation. A Folic Acid deficiency during pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects such as spina bifida (a condition in which the spinal cord does not form completely), anencephaly (underdevelopment of the brain) and encephalocele (a condition in which brain tissue protrudes out to the skin from an abnormal opening in the skull).
All of these conditions occur during the first 28 days of fetal development, usually before Mom even knows she’s pregnant, which is why it’s important for women who may become or are trying to become pregnant to consistently get enough Folic Acid in their diet.
Pregnant woman should consume at least 0.6-0.8 mg of Folic Acid per day. Folic Acid can be found in oranges, orange juice, strawberries, leafy vegetables, spinach, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, pasta, beans, nuts and sunflower seeds, as well as in supplements and fortified cereals.
Iron helps your body to form the extra blood that it’s going to need to keep you and baby healthy, as well as helping to form the placenta and develop the baby’s cells. Women are rarely able to consume enough iron during their pregnancy through eating alone, so iron supplements along with prenatal vitamins are often prescribed.
Women who are pregnant should have at least 27 mg of iron per day, although the Center for Disease Control suggests that all women take a supplement containing at least 30 mg. The extra iron rarely causes side effects; however, overdosing on iron supplements can be very harmful for both you and your baby by causing iron build-up in the cells.
Iron can be found in red meat and poultry, which are your best choice, as well as legumes, vegetables, some grains and fortified cereals. (I ate a lot of raisin bran)
Also known as Vitamin B3, Niacin is responsible for providing energy for your baby to develop as well as building the placenta. It also helps keep Mom’s digestive system operating normally. Pregnant women should have an intake of at least 18 mg of Niacin per day. Niacin can be found in foods that are high in protein, such as eggs, meats, fish and peanuts, as well as whole grains, bread products, fortified cereals and milk.
Protein is the building block of the body’s cells, and as such it is very important to the growth and development of every part of your baby’s body during pregnancy. This is especially important in the second and third trimester, when both Mom and baby are growing the fastest. Pregnant and nursing women should consume at least 70g of protein per day, which is about 25g more than the average women needs before pregnancy.
Protein can be found naturally in beans, poultry, red meats, fish, shellfish, eggs, milk, cheese, tofu and yogurt. It is also available in supplements, fortified cereals and protein bars.
Also known as Vitamin B2, Riboflavin helps the body produce the energy it needs to develop your baby’s bones, muscles and nervous system. Women with Riboflavin deficiency may be at risk for preeclamsia, and when baby is delivered it will be prone to anemia, digestive problems, poor growth and a suppressed immune system, making it more vulnerable to infection.
Pregnant women should consume at least 1.4 mg of Riboflavin per day, nursing mothers 1.6 mg. Riboflavin can be found in whole grains, dairy products, red meat, pork and poultry, fish, fortified cereals and eggs.
Also known as Vitamin B1, thiamin helps develop your baby’s organs and central nervous system. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should consume at least 1.4 mg of Thiamin a day. Nursing mothers who are Thiamin deficient are at risk for having babies with beriberi, a disease which may affect the baby’s cardiovascular system (lungs and heart) or the nervous system
Thiamin can be found in whole grain foods, pork, fortified cereals, wheat germ and eggs.
Zinc is vital for the growth of your fetus because it aids in cell division, the primary process in the growth of baby’s tiny tissues and organs. It also helps Mom and baby to produce insulin and other enzymes. Pregnant women should have an intake of at least 11-12 mg of Zinc per day.
Zinc can be found naturally in red meats, poultry, beans, nuts, grains, oysters and dairy products, as well as fortified cereals and supplements.