In preparation for pregnancy, certain nutrients should be supplied in their optimal form. Women who have been taking the contraceptive pill often show low nutrient status in vitamins B1, B2, B6, C, folic acid and zinc.
Vitamin and mineral requirements for a pregnant women
In preparation for pregnancy, certain nutrients should be supplied in their optimal form. Women who have been taking the contraceptive pill often show low nutrient status in the following nutrients: B1, B2, B6, C, folic acid and zinc. Conception that occurs immediately after cessation of the pill increases the risk of malformation or spontaneous abortions.
The three most important nutrients during pregnancy are calcium, folic acid and iron. Certain B vitamins have of course shown to be protective against neural tube defects, low infant birthweight and size.
The following list gives an indication of the extreme importance of each nutrient and also the basis of the importance for each nutrient.
Vitamin A Up to 25,000 IU Sourced from the carotenoid family, beta-carotene is the preferred choice during pregnancy. Vitamin A is extremely safe at the right dosage and is considered necessary for health. Do not exceed 50,000 IU of Vitamin A as daily doses above 40,000 IU may be teratogenic. Lower levels during pregnancy are associated with an increased risk of pre-eclampsia.
Vitamin B1 10-50 mg Maternal intake early in pregnancy may be directly associated with infant birthweight and size. Thiamine (B1) depletion is common during pregnancy.
Vitamin B2 10-50 mg Riboflavin (B2) depletion is common during pregnancy, especially the first trimester.
Vitamin B3 25-50 mg Maternal intake early in pregnancy is directly associated with infant birth weight & size.
Vitamin B5 10-100 mg
Vitamin B6 10-50 mg Supplementation has been shown in a number of studies to be necessary to keep the laboratory measurements of B6 for pregnant women in the normal range, since it is marginally deficient in about 50% of pregnant women. Given during labour, B6 may prevent postnatal adaptation problems by increasing the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. May also be deficient in women with morning sickness and is proven to prevent toxaemia of pregnancy.
Vitamin B12 25 mcg
Vitamin C 500-3000mg Vitamin C is effective for the treatment of leg cramps. A study of nearly 6000 women showed a dose of 3000mg of vitamin C in the last trimester reduced all patient labour times to under 4 hours. Vitamin C supplementation at 3000mg must not be stopped abruptly, as infants may develop rebound scurvy.
Vitamin D 400 IU
Vitamin E 400 IU Status may be low in pregnant women. Serum lipid levels increase during pregnancy and require additional Vitamin E. May be effective in preventing habitual abortion.
Folic Acid 0.8 mg Folate is the only vitamin whose requirement doubles in pregnancy. Serum levels decline during pregnancy and low levels are associated with low birthweight and neural tube defects.
Vitamin K Subclinical deficiency is common. Supplementation along with Vitamin C is effective against morning sickness. May also reduce the risk of intraventricular haemorrhage in premature infants.
Polyunsaturated Oils Essential fatty acids from tuna, deep sea fish and flax seed oil are useful for infant brain, eye and gland development.
Calcium 1000-1500 mg, 2000 mg daily during lactation. Calcium needs double during pregnancy. Low levels are associated with low birth weights, risk of preterm delivery and pregnancy related hypertension.
Magnesium 400-600 mg The mean dietary intake of pregnant women is 35-58% of the RDI. Deficiency may be associated with elevated blood pressure, reduced foetal weight and pathologic placental and renal lesions. Serum and urinary magnesium may be low in pre-eclampsia. Hypomagnesemia may be a marker for true preterm labour. Supplementation may reduce the complications of pregnancy and improve the health of the infant.
Potassium May be reduced during pregnancy, especially in eclampsia.
Iodine 200-300mcg Iodine is an essential nutrient that is important for child brain development and cognition.
Zinc 20-30mg Pregnant women ingest only about 2/3 of the recommended dietary allowance of zinc. Plasma zinc declines about 30% during pregnancy. Low zinc status is associated with spontaneous abortion and premature delivery and is correlated with complications with labour abnormalities. Low maternal zinc levels may be related to CNS abnormalities in infants, including neural tube defects, low birthweight and toxaemia of pregnancy.
Chromium 200-500mcg Placental chromium levels may be positively correlated with birth weight. In studies of the levels in the placenta of 26 elements, as related to birthweight, for randomly selected live births, there was a significant positive correlation between chromium levels and optimal foetal development, suggesting without supplementation, there is an increased risk of low infant birth weights.
Iron 40-60 mg Dietary need doubles during pregnancy and amenorrhea and increased iron absorption may not be adequate to make up for the extra demands, if storage iron is low. May be directly related to infant birthweight, size and health of infant haemoglobin. Seek supplements containing iron in the bisglycinate form to reduce gastro-intestinal upsets and the destruction of vitamin E.
Bioflavonoids 200mg three times daily. Supplementation is effective in preventing spontaneous abortion and premature labour, may also reduce severity of erythroblastosis fetalis.
Protein Intake needs to be increased in the second and third trimester. Tuna, whey protein and other fish products are excellent sources.