During pregnancy, women should consume foods rich in vitamins and mineral supplements to ensure there good heath and that of the baby. This will prevent attack by anaemia and bone loss as well as defects in the baby’s renal tube, which will help in the formation of DNA and growth of the foetus.
These vitamins should be taken as guided by the obstetrician or nutritionist, because the amount consumed depends on various factors such as age and presence of diseases such as anaemia. Also, not all women require this kind of supplementation but the doctor may still prescribe it as a form of prevention from deficiency.
Vitamin supplements for pregnant women
Some pregnant women may be deficient of some nutrients and this can happen as a consequence of insufficient intake of these vitamins or minerals in the diet; or because the body does not have enough for the growth of the foetus. For this reason a pregnant woman may need supplements of:
- Iron, calcium, zinc and copper
- Vitamins C, D, B6, B12 and folic acid
- Fatty acids
- Omega 3
Folic acid supplementation is the most recommended by a doctor or nutritionist. This is because this vitamin is important in the development of the baby as it prevents neural tube injuries and congenital diseases. Therefore, the nutritionist can recommend the consumption of a diet rich in folic acid, such as spinach and black beans, if necessary, to do the supplementation.
The type and amounts of vitamins and minerals to be replaced depend on the results of the blood tests that the pregnant woman will undergo during pregnancy, her age, the number of babies expected and the prevalence of diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis. Some of the supplements used during pregnancy include Natalben Supra, Centrum Prenatal, Natele and Materna.
Why is taking vitamins without guidance dangerous?
Consumption of these vitamins without guidance from a doctor or nutritionist is dangerous because excessive intake of some of these nutrients can cause problems for the baby and the mother. For example, excess intake of vitamin A can cause malformations of the foetus, while excess vitamin C increases risk of developing kidney stones.
Therefore, it is important that supplementation is done according to the prescription of the doctor or nutritionist and according to the results of the woman’s tests.
Can vitamin supplementation cause fattening?
Vitamin supplements do not result in increased weight as they serve to nourish and supplement a healthy diet which should be followed during pregnancy.
In cases where there is an increase in weight above the desired one during the gestation period, the doctor may recommend practicing physical exercise and consuming a diet low in fat concentration, while maintaining nutrient supplementation.
Vitamins for pregnant women with anaemia
If a pregnant woman is suffering from anaemia, it is usually recommended to use iron supplements so as to increase the ability of the red blood cell to carry iron.
At any stage of pregnancy, the pregnant woman may portray a decreased level in blood iron, and this may be a sign of anaemia. It should be treated immediately so as to avoid the risk of premature births, abortions or decreased growth of the baby.
Anaemia during pregnancy is common because the body needs to produce more blood and for this reason, pregnant women should consume a diet rich in iron throughout the pregnancy period.
Natural replacement of vitamins
Although vitamin supplements are frequently used during pregnancy because it is a rapid source of vitamins, similar results can also be obtained from food. Juices and vitamin rich foods can be made form with fruits and vegetable which are rich in vitamins A, C, E, folic acid and iron. Some of these vitamins and juices for pregnant women include:
- Citrus fruits such as orange, pineapple and acerola, as they are rich in vitamin C, which increases the absorption of iron in the intestine when taken next to lunch and dinner
- Yellow and orange vegetables, such as carrots and pumpkin, as they are rich in vitamin A
- Dark green vegetables such as kale and watercress, as they are rich in folic acid, which helps fight anaemia and aid in proper development of the nervous system of the foetus
- Meat and poultry, which are sources of iron, which are important against anaemia.
Always remember that foods rich in calcium, such as milk and dairy products should be taken together with the iron supplements or during main meals as they can impair the total absorption of iron in the intestine.