All nutrients are very important before, during and after pregnancy. Intrauterine nutrition plays an important role in the normal growth and development of the baby. Certain studies have indicated that under nutrition of fetus has permanent effects on health status of adult individuals. It is important that expecting mothers take enough attention to their nutrient intake.
The most important mineral that is required during and after pregnancy. The current recommended amount of calcium intake during pregnancy is about 1500mg (which is just a little more than your regular intake). Milk, cheese, curd, paneer, yoghurt are all good sources of calcium. Often people associate calcium with milk and milk products but it is available in plenty in almonds, sesame seeds, cabbage, figs, bananas, beans and nowadays packed juices are fortified with calcium. Despite this intake, your doctor may still recommend a supplement for you.
Folic Acid is yet another essential nutrient before and after your pregnancy. Folid acid helps in development of fetal brain and spine. 400 micrograms of folic acid is a must for every single day during pregnancy. Mostly women who are unaware of their pregnancy status in the early months miss out on the goodness of folic acid. And that is why it is important to start folic acids even before you plan. Apart from folic acid supplements, your doctor may also put you on a multi vitamin.
This is required to make hemoglobin so there is no missing out on this one. Hemoglobin helps in oxygen transport throughout the body, so if you are anemic (less hemoglobin), then you aren’t having enough oxygen and this leads to fatigue. Oxygen is very important for proper growth of your baby. Calcium interferes with absorption of iron – and hence do not take these supplements together. If you have your iron medicine with a glass of juice before breakfast, take your calcium supplement well after lunch. Vitamin C helps in the absorption of iron. Do note that iron supplements can cause diarrhea/constipation, bloating and characteristic black stools. Because most Indian women are anemic, as soon as one gets pregnant, they are immediately put on supplements to correct the hemoglobin level.
Vitamin B12 that is primarily found in animal products is essential for proper nerve and brain functioning – both in the mother and the baby. If you are a vegetarian, it would be the best to take supplements.
Proteins are yet another essential nutrient during pregnancy, mainly to support the growth of your baby. Found abundantly in plant and animal sources of foods. Intake should go up by 10-20gms from your normal diet.
Sources of essential nutrients
Calcium: Milk & Milk products
Folic Acid: Cabbage, broccoli, banana, almonds, seasame seeds, figs, beans, lotus stems
Iron: Beans, tofu, peanuts, peanut butter, Dry fruits, whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, pomegranate, strawberry.
Vitamin B12: Soy milk, sprouts like moong, chawli
Protein: Liver and other meat products, Milk, lentils, legumes, sprouts, eggs