Pregnancy is a critical phase in which an embryo turns into a fetus, which eventually becomes a newborn infant. It’s an incredible process that defines the natural wonder of life itself.
However, it’s important to remember that pregnancy is nothing to be taken lightly. It can tax the body, weighs heavily on the mind, and culminates with a tremendous transformation requiring every bit of endurance and grit the woman has to offer.
As a result, those currently pregnant or trying to become pregnant should be doing everything possible to look after themselves and their unborn child. The advice and guidance of a trusted physician will lead the way, but it ultimately comes down to the choices you make and the actions you take during pregnancy.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at six essential vitamins for a safe and healthy pregnancy:
Calcium is necessary for the growth and development of strong bones and teeth. It also plays a critical role in the development of the heart, muscles, and nerves. As a result, pregnant women should consume foods rich in calcium. Examples include dairy products, leafy greens, tofu, and fortified orange juice. If the recommended daily intake of calcium is not met through diet, calcium supplements may be prescribed by your doctor.
Most people don’t hear about folic acid until they or their partner becomes pregnant. That’s because it’s one of the most critical vitamins involved in a safe and healthy pregnancy. The importance of folic acid comes down to its role in the development of the neural tube, which forms the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Those suffering from folic acid deficiency are putting their unborn baby at risk of birth defects. As a result, pregnant women should be taking folic acid supplements for the first trimester. Foods rich in folic acid include asparagus, beans, broccoli, lentils, and spinach. Many types of prenatal gummies also contain folates, making them a handy source of folic acid when you’re feeling too nauseous to eat.
While iron is an essential vitamin during pregnancy, it’s typically not recommended for pregnant women to take iron supplements. That’s because iron is prevalent in many popular food sources, and too much iron can be harmful to the body. With that said, a pregnant woman’s body will divert the bulk of her iron consumption to the developing fetus, so it’s critical to ensure you eat plenty of iron-rich foods. Examples include lean red meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B12 is essential for forming red blood cells and properly functioning the nervous system. Pregnant women who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet are at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, as it’s found mainly in animal-based foods. As a result, women who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet should consider taking vitamin B12 supplements.
Vitamin C is essential for forming collagen, which is critical for developing an unborn baby’s skin, cartilage, and bones. It also helps in the absorption of iron from plant-based foods. With this in mind, pregnant women should consume foods rich in vitamin C, such as broccoli, citrus fruits, kiwi, strawberries, and fresh tomatoes.
Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone growth in the fetus. It also helps maintain the mother’s bone health and reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and preterm birth. Women with a vitamin D deficiency are at elevated risk of developing gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia. Since sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, pregnant women should aim to spend at least 15 minutes outside in the sun every day. Foods rich in vitamin D include eggs, fatty fish, and fortified foods like milk, cereals, and orange juice.
There’s a lot that goes into a safe and healthy pregnancy. A woman’s age, environment, health, and lifestyle choices play significant roles in her pregnancy. As a result, it’s essential for pregnant women to meet their recommended amounts of the vitamins mentioned above. Doing so will go far in ensuring a healthy and beautiful bundle of joy.
Vivien Bell is a freelance writer from Maryland. She enjoys writing about education, family, home living, and pet care.