Anaemia can be a problem during pregnancy regardless of diet because the developing foetus will draw on the mother's iron stores to create stores of its own, required for the healthy formation of red blood cells. Also, maternal blood volume increases by 50%, therefore iron is needed in larger amounts, particularly in the later stages.
Eat foods rich in iron such as dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans and legumes and dried fruits. If you are a meat-eater you will find it easier to keep your iron levels topped up as "haem iron" (iron from blood in red meat) is absorbed much better than vegetable iron.
Mineral status in early life is a great biomarker of future health. Mineral deficiency, therefore, is likely to create a predisposition to ill health, both for yourself post-pregnancy and for your baby.
The minerals zinc and selenium are important at all stages of life for the support they give to our immune systems as well as human development.
Folic acid is vital, not only is it needed by the baby for the development of the neural tubes but also by the mother, and shortage can lead to a condition called megoblastic anaemia which occurs in the last trimester of pregnancy.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration in America) feel it is so important that it is now added to pre-packaged bread and cereals in a quest to ensure people get sufficient. The NRV is 200µg but pregnant women and those of child-bearing age are recommended to take 400µg.
Calcium is in great demand during pregnancy. Intestinal absorption of calcium doubles early in pregnancy and the mineral is stored in the mother's bones.
Later, as the foetus begins to develop, the mother's stores are drawn upon. Dark green leafy vegetables and low-fat cheeses are good sources of calcium. Calcium works with vitamin D in bone and teeth development.
Magnesium is involved in thousands of chemical reactions in the body. It plays a critical role in immune, muscle and nerve function. Deficiency in magnesium during pregnancy may increase the risk of chronic hypertension and premature labour.
Vitamin D helps to regulate the levels of calcium and phosphate in your body. You need calcium and phosphate to keep your bones and teeth healthy. Vitamin D can help you fight infections, and may help to prevent diabetes and some cancers.
Not having enough vitamin D when you are pregnant or breastfeeding may prevent your baby from getting enough calcium and phosphate. This can cause the baby to develop weak teeth and bones, and in rare cases, develop rickets.
There also may be a link between low vitamin D levels during pregnancy and an increased risk of having a baby with a low birth weight.
|B1||plays a big part in your baby’s brain development|
|B2||keeps your eyes healthy, and your skin glowing and fresh|
|B3||improves digestion and can ease morning sickness and nausea|
|B5||helps create pregnancy hormones and eases leg cramps|
|B6||plays a big part in your baby’s brain and nervous system development|
|B7 (Biotin)||pregnancy can cause biotin deficiency, so increase your intake as it helps with cell growth and development |
|B12||helps maintain your and your baby’s spine and central nervous system|
Vitamin C boosts your immune system and reduces your risk of suffering from iron-deficiency anaemia in pregnancy. Vitamin C is key to your baby's physical development too, as it aids in the production of collagen, which supports normal growth, bone strength and wound healing.
Vitamin E plays many important roles in the body and is involved in gene expression and immune function.
Vitamin K is needed for healthy bone development and protein formation in the liver, as well as it playing a key role in blood clotting. This is particularly important during labour and just after you’ve given birth, when your body is recovering and starting to heal. Good levels of vitamin K are also vital for your baby immediately after birth and, while vitamin K deficiency in babies is very rare, it can lead to a condition that increases their risk of bleeding too much.
Manganese is important in the creation of bone and cartilage for your growing baby. It also plays a role in the metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids and cholesterol that your baby needs to grow, and helps protect those brand new cells from damage.
Boron helps your body metabolise key vitamins and minerals, like vitamin D and therefore has a key role in bone health.
Copper is a trace mineral found in all plant and animal tissues and is essential for forming red blood cells. This is especially important during pregnancy, when your blood supply doubles. Copper helps form your baby's heart, blood vessels, and skeletal and nervous system, it also boosts your body's ability to mend tissues and break down sugars.
Beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A in your body. Vitamin A is important for your baby's embryonic growth, including the development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and bones as well as the circulatory, respiratory, and central nervous systems. Vitamin A is particularly essential for women who are about to give birth because it helps with postpartum tissue repair.
Molybdenum is found in several tissues of the body and is required for eliminating toxic substances.
Iodine helps the body to grow and develop, especially the brain. During pregnancy, iodine maintains normal function of the thyroid. Getting enough ensures that your baby develops a healthy and normal thyroid, too. In the rare case of a baby having an underdeveloped thyroid, it can lead to low IQ, developmental delays, deafness and birth defects.
Chromium helps your body break down and store fats, carbohydrates, and protein. It works with insulin to maintain a normal level of glucose in your body. This is especially important if you're diabetic or become diabetic during pregnancy. Chromium also promotes the building of proteins in your developing baby's growing tissues.