6 Best Prenatal Nutrients – WholeFoods Magazine

Folic acid. Folic acid is so important that the The CDC suggests that all people capable of childbirth take 400 mcg of folic acid daily, in addition to consuming folate through diet, to ensure that even unplanned pregnancies get off to a good start – acid folate helps form the neural tube very early in pregnancy, and in sufficient amounts of it can help prevent ancephaly (a birth defect of the baby’s brain) and spina bifida (a birth defect of the spine vertebral). The CDC notes that about half of pregnancies in the United States are unplanned and that these major birth defects occur three to four weeks after conception, before a person knows they are pregnant.

Many foods are fortified with folic acid specifically to prevent birth defects. The CDC allows the 400 mcg per day can come from supplements, fortified foods, or a mixture of the two, in addition to foods containing natural folate, a list that includes legumes, asparagus, and leafy greens. —Health Line Notes that while a cup of cooked lentils contains 90% of the daily value (DV) of folate, most foods contain much lower amounts, with a 3 oz serving of beef liver containing 54% of the DV, a cup of cooked kidney beans at 33% of the DV, half a cup of asparagus providing 34% of the DV, spinach falling to 15% of the DV – citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts and broccoli in contain approximately the same amount.

The iron. Pregnant women are at increased risk of iron deficiency anemia. Experts at Mayo Clinic explain that the body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to the tissues. During pregnancy, the body uses iron to produce more blood to also supply the baby with oxygen, so pregnant women need twice as much iron as non-pregnant people. Severe anemia can increase the risk of preterm birth and postpartum depression, and can put the baby at risk of being born with a low birth rate. People are particularly at risk if they:

  • Having two close pregnancies;
  • are pregnant with more than one baby;
  • Had a heavy menstrual flow before pregnancy;
  • Have a history of anemia, before pregnancy;
  • Vomit frequently due to morning sickness;
  • Do not consume enough iron.

Regular blood tests to screen for anemia are part of typical pregnancy care, so clients need to know whether they are anemic or not; clients who are unsure or concerned should speak with their health care provider.

When it comes to maintaining healthy iron levels, pregnant women need 27 mg of iron per day. Iron, of course, is found in animal products, where it is most easily absorbed; it can also be found in supplements and fortified foods. To improve the absorption of iron from plant sources and supplements, the Mayo Clinic recommends combining it with foods or drinks high in vitamin C, such as orange juice, tomato juice, or strawberries, and avoid taking calcium at the same time, whether in supplement form or in calcium-enriched orange juice, as calcium can decrease iron absorption. (And for more information on iron supplementation without side effects, check out whole foods‘ February article on the subject.)

Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important, in large part, because of its use in calcium absorption – without vitamin D, that 1000 mg/day of calcium won’t be absorbed very well. And in cases where the pregnant person is severely deficient, the baby may be born with congenital rickets, disordered skeletal homeostasis and fractures, although this is rare enough that The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not recommend that vitamin D screening be a general recommendation.

However, a 2015 study published in women’s health notes “a striking difference…in vitamin D metabolism during pregnancy and fetal development compared to non-pregnant and non-fetal states.” The study explains that, typically, vitamin D is converted to 25(OH)D and then to an active hormone form called calcitrol, which works to maintain calcium homeostasis. In non-pregnant people, the study notes that circulating 25(OH)D levels below 20 ng/ml represent a deficiency, but based on a randomized controlled trial the researchers had previously performed, optimizing calcitrol does not occur until total circulating 25(OH)D levels have reached 40 ng/ml. Specifically, the experts explained, the conversion of 25(OH)D to calcitrol during pregnancy is “unique and unprecedented in life.” At 12 weeks gestation, calcitrol levels “are more than double those of a non-pregnant adult and continue to increase two to three times from the non-pregnant baseline” until the pregnant person reaches levels that would be toxic to a non-pregnant individual.

Interestingly, the study indicates that this increase in calcitrol is unrelated to additional calcium requirements, suggesting that vitamin D serves an important purpose beyond simply facilitating calcium absorption. One of the main theories, according to the researchers, is that calcitrol is important for the “tolerance of the pregnant woman to the foreign fetus whose DNA is only half that of the mother”, although it is not there is no answer yet.

The researchers also note that a breastfeeding person’s vitamin D status becomes the infant’s vitamin D status, making it vital for the parent to have enough vitamin D.

Regarding supplementation, the researchers argue that a vitamin D intake during pregnancy of 400 IU/day is “grossly insufficient, especially with ethnic minorities”, and suggest supplements of 1000 IU/day for women. pregnant, according to the results of the researchers’ two randomized studies. clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women.

Most parents – and parents-to-be – probably won’t need encouragement to keep nutrition top of mind. Rather, what they will need is reassurance that the foods they eat and the products they take are safe, nutritious and effective. Provide that assurance and you might end up with a new little regular. WF

Patricia J. Callender