4 Most Important Vitamins During Pregnancy
Having a baby is one of the most exciting things that can happen to you and this special time can bring many questions as you need to know how to take care of yourself and your unborn baby.
Pregnancy is associated with physiologic changes and these changes further results in various changes in the body. A healthy diet is important and essential for times in life but particularly during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a period during which the nutritional needs of developing fetus depends on the mother. A pregnant woman’s dietary pattern has a profound effect on pregnancy outcomes. Good nutrition is required to meet an added demand of your body as well as of your growing baby.
The maternal diet must provide sufficient energy and nutrients to meet the usual requirements of the mother and the baby or the growing fetus. Also, it enables the mother to store nutrients required for fetal development and for lactation. Healthy eating also includes knowing what you should eat and how much you should eat. Some important vitamins and nutrients that are important for the development of pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is important for normal maintenance and functioning of body tissues and its importance increases during pregnancy, for growth and development of a fetus. It is important for baby’s embryonic growth and development of organs such as heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and bones.
Vitamin A is important for cell division, fetal organ, skeletal growth, maintenance of the immune system to strengthen the defense against infection, development of the vision in a fetus, and for the maintenance of maternal vision. Thus, vitamin A is extremely important during pregnancy period.
Numerous researchers suggest that vitamin A deficiency is associated with an increased child mortality after six months of age. In fact, both severe vitamin A deficiency and vitamin A overload are associated with adverse reproductive outcomes. Dietary sources of vitamin A include:
- Whole Wheat
- Fish oil
2. Vitamin C
We all are familiar with the importance of vitamin C in the body. Vitamin C is crucial for the overall health and well being and sometimes it is considered to be a functional food ingredient. One of the most important aspects of vitamin C is its role in cognitive function and due to its high concentration in the brain, it affects us throughout the life.
It is believed that individuals who are stressed or have a stressful life are at an increased risk of low vitamin C levels as an increased oxidative stress often causes reduced vitamin C level. According to the studies, pregnant women are often found to be low in vitamin C level due to an increased oxidative stress. Also, pregnant women who are obese are more likely to have low vitamin C level as compared to healthy pregnant women. This is because the level of oxidative stress in obese women are comparatively high.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for many important bodily functions. Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium from the gut and keep the bones strong. It strengthens the muscles and improves immunity. This vitamin also plays a role in keeping a heart safe. Low vitamin D levels increase the risk of heart diseases and mental health. During pregnancy, vitamin D plays an important role and has an effect on the maternal and fetal health. If a mother has low vitamin D level during pregnancy the baby will be low in vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with maternal and fetal effects. The effects of low vitamin D levels are high are number, some of which are short term and some may become apparent later in life. The status of vitamin D during pregnancy plays a role in fetal skeletal development, tooth enamel formation, and general growth and development of fetal.
Also, vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, preterm birth and impaired fetal skeletal formation that can lead to the occurrence of rickets. Exposure to sunlight is the best source of getting vitamin D and some dietary sources include:
- Oily fish
- Egg yolk
- Beef Liver
Folate, also known as folic acid is one of the B vitamins and it helps in the growth and protection of cells in the body. When the cells grow, the body needs folic acid. Folate is a vitamin that works great for the heart. It prevents and decreases the risk of developing a stroke. It also encourages normal cholesterol level and enhances overall health and well being.
Folic acid is vital for the formation of red blood cells and deficiency of folic acid can lead to anemia. It can also result in other symptoms like tiredness, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, headache, behavioral disorders, and heart palpitations.
During pregnancy, it is one of the most important vitamins as an intake of folate is essential for fetal and placental development. During this period, the requirement of folate increases and folate deficiency during this period has been associated with various many complications such as miscarriage, low birth weight, stillbirth, prematurity, and neural tube malformations. Some dietary sources of obtaining folate include:
- Citrus fruit
- Leafy greens
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