Taking the right nutrients during pregnancy will make the pregnancy easier for both you and your baby. As it can be difficult to get everything you need in your diet, many expecting mothers take supplements to increase their nutrient intake and improve their health while pregnant. Below we take a look at 6 nutrients you didn’t know pregnant women need.
Collagen is a protein that is naturally found within the body and is used to make up connective tissues, such as cartilage and skin. It is essential for healthy and young-looking skin, and you may have seen many anti-aging face creams use collagen in their ingredients. So why is collagen essential for pregnancy you ask?
Pregnancy can cause all kinds of changes to your skin, as you need to make room for your baby bump. Swelling during pregnancy is also common, which makes the skin stretch. As collagen is the main protein that shapes your skin, it is helpful to be taking collagen supplements to prevent or reduce stretch marks. Carrying a child can also put stress on your ligaments and joints, and collagen is responsible for holding the connective tissue together, meaning it is a great supplement to take during pregnancy and beyond.
For more information on using collagen during pregnancy and finding the best supplement for you, check out Needed. Their helpful blog includes information about how to get more collagen in your diet and factors that influence collagen depletion and production.
Calcium is a vital nutrient for strong and healthy teeth and bones, for you and your baby. Calcium has many other roles to play in your body too, such as supporting the healthy function of your circulatory and nervous system and improving muscle function. For your baby, this helps develop healthy muscles, nerves, and heart, as well as improve their blood-clotting abilities. It can also help your baby to develop a regular heartbeat, which lessens the risk of heart problems.
As you may already know, dairy is the best way to up your calcium intake, but this can be difficult if you are lactose intolerant. Calcium supplements are best for those who cannot eat dairy, or you can add more calcium to your diet through leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli or kale. Some breakfast cereal and fruit juices contain calcium too. You can check the packet to find out more.
Folic acid is a manmade version of folate, which is essential for pregnant mothers. Your doctor may have already told you to take folic acid during pregnancy, as it can decrease the risk of giving birth to a low-weight baby (which can cause other problems) and premature labor. Folate can also prevent other issues while your baby is developing, such as spinal cord and brain defects.
Folic acid can be taken as a supplement, or you can find it in many foods. Fortified cereals are one of the best ways to get folic acid into your diet, and using cow’s milk will add more calcium to your diet too. Other foods to incorporate natural folate into your diet include leafy vegetables like spinach, citrus fruits, peas, dried beans, and lentils.
Collagen is not the only protein that you should be getting more of during pregnancy. All protein is vital for your baby’s progress, especially for tissue, organ, and brain development. Protein can even increase your blood supply, making it easier for blood, nutrients, and oxygen to reach your baby in the womb. This can also provide you with the energy that you require during pregnancy, as carrying a baby is a lot of work!
Meeting the daily requirement intake for protein will lower the risk of pregnancy complications, such as fetal growth restriction. You may even meet these requirements already if you have a balanced diet that consists of lots of lean meat, dairy, fish, and eggs. You should aim for around 70 grams of protein per day as a general rule. Some moms-to-be take protein powder, which can be mixed with your favorite shake or smoothie in the morning.
Vitamin D and calcium are two nutrients that go hand in hand and help your baby develop strong, healthy bones and teeth. Depending on where you live in the US, you may not get much natural Vitamin D, especially in the winter. Many people find the best way to up their vitamin D intake is by consuming supplements, but you can get enough from the sun if you live in a sunny place and spend time outdoors.
This vitamin has other benefits for your baby too, such as developing healthy kidneys, nervous system, and heart. Although the best source is the sun, you can find vitamin D in many foods, with fatty fish being one of the main food groups. There are some types of fish you should avoid during pregnancy though, as they contain high levels of mercury. Other excellent sources of vitamin D include eggs, milk, and some fruit juices.
Your body uses iron to create hemoglobin, which is a protein found in your red blood cells. These red blood cells then carry oxygen to each of your tissues and cells, ensuring that your body is working as it should. Low iron in your bloodstream can lead to feelings of exhaustion, as your body cannot function properly. Pregnant women need twice as much iron, as they are supplying oxygen to their own bodies, as well as their babies.
Did you know that you are at an increased risk of becoming iron deficient and developing iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy? This can negatively affect your baby and could cause premature labor, postpartum depression, and a low-weight baby. You can prevent iron deficiency anemia by using prenatal vitamins and sourcing foods that are high in iron. Other symptoms of low iron include headaches, cold hands and feet, and pale skin.
The best sources of iron to include in your diet are lean red meats, such as beef tenderloin. You can find fortified cereals such as oats that are loaded with iron as well. Spinach, poultry, and beans are other natural options. Iron from animal products (like meat) is the easiest for the body to absorb. To further improve your iron absorption, eat or drink foods that are high in vitamin C, such as strawberries, orange juice, or tomatoes.
Using Supplements In Pregnancy
Supplements are recommended during pregnancy as it can be difficult to get the number of nutrients you need through your diet, even if you are eating healthily. Prenatal vitamins are great for pregnancy and beyond and can be taken daily to improve your and your baby’s health. You should speak to your healthcare provider if you want more information on nutrients during pregnancy and get your blood levels checked, to make sure you do not have any deficiencies which could lead to complications in your pregnancy.
Collagen, calcium, folic acid, iron, vitamin D, and protein are all essential nutrients that pregnant women need. You can change your diet to include more foods that contain these nutrients, as well as take tailored vitamins which can improve your nutrient intake. This is the safest way to ensure your baby has the best start and that you remain healthy during pregnancy.