Adequate vitamin and mineral consumption undoubtedly improves both foetal and maternal health. But rarely does prenatal education include nutritional advice for us, too.
“A healthy diet during pregnancy is essential for normal growth and development of the foetus” states a 2016 literature review, confirming pregnancy nutrition is heavily focused on a healthy baby only. But we understand the connection between healing, growing and nutrition too well for this to go on. When we train for a marathon, we nourish our bodies accordingly. When unwell, we ensure our food doesn’t aggravate us further. But when we’re pregnant, we do everything we can to help grow our baby, without considering our own health needs too. We are very ready to change all that.
With such a strong focus on baby’s health, it’s rare to find recommendations on the nutritional needs of pregnant women. We scoured the literature, but couldn’t find the specifics. So we formulated the following, just for you:
Nutrients to support maternal health
B Vitamins support energy needs.
Adequate amounts of B Vitamins are needed to help metabolise food into energy. Especially important in pregnancy, these vitamins can help provide a natural energy booster and lethargy lifter- most needed in the draining first and third trimesters.
Supplementary B1, B5 + calcium have been found to help ease painful leg cramps, an irritating pregnancy symptom we’re often quick to dismiss.
Increasing B6 consumption has been found to help ease mood swings, alleviate nausea and vomiting. It can also decrease risk of dental decay.
Top food sources of B vitamins:
- Soy products
Personalise your Iron.
Despite common prescription in prenatal supplements, it’s worth noting routine supplementation is not actually recommended. Taking additional iron without checking if you’re deficient, can lead to an overconsumption of iron in those who don’t need it, challenging immunity and threatening toxicity. But, iron deficiency is so common in pregnancy, so if you find you’re exhausted and deficient, the small amount found in most prenatal vitamins isn’t really going to cut it. Current practice in Australia recommends screening for deficiency through a blood test. And if needed, picking up a high quality iron supplement at a dose that will actually work is best for you and your energy. Read more here.
Top food sources of iron:
- Red meat
- Dried fruits.
Vitamins, minerals and nutrients to support changes to our skin.
Our connective tissue is expected to grow and change, along with our bodies. Ensuring good levels of zinc and protein helps to support the building of new tissue. Vitamin C helps support collagen formation which allows for the maintenance of healthy skin, tendons, cartilage and teeth throughout the process.
Great food sources of Zinc:
Think protein rich foods like,
- Red meat
Great food sources of vitamin C:
- Citrus fruits
- Brussels sprouts
- Dark green veggies
Vitamins to support your bone health.
Good levels of vitamin D ensure your bones stay healthy in pregnancy. Supplementation can be particularly relevant for vegetarians, those avoiding dairy and if you have limited time in direct sunlight. With different forms of supplementation available, always check to see what type yours contains. Cholecalciferol is the most effective and best absorbed form.
The best source of vitamin D is the sun. 5-10 minutes of sunshine on your skin daily is all we need.
Another good one for bone health is supplementary vitamin K, which can reduce the risk of bone-related pain as your skeleton changes to prepare for birth.
Great food sources:
- Green leafy veggies
Nutrients for hair health.
For luscious locks, and reduced hair shedding, ensure adequate levels of biotin.
Great food sources of Biotin:
- Egg yolks