Is My Baby Healthy?
This is usually the first question a mother asks herself whenever she becomes pregnant, and is a constant pervading thought throughout her pregnancy. Motherly instincts kick in, and the well being of her child becomes top priority. Healthy eating, yoga, and taking walks are just a few things that contribute to a normal, healthy pregnancy, but there are 5 nutrients that are absolutely crucial to the optimal development of your child.
1) Folate and Folic Acid – Folic acid is the synthetic form of Folate that is usually found in supplements or enriched foods. Folate is a vitamin-B rich nutrient that helps prevent neural tube defects and deformities that might seriously impact the baby’s spinal cord and brain. The supplemental form of folic acid also helps in lowering the chances of preterm delivery. Folic acid can be found in fortified cereals, beans, asparagus, oranges, and peanuts, but the highest naturally occurring source is found in spinach, with 115 mcg for a half-cup serving. 800 micrograms of folic acid is the daily recommended amount to take throughout your pregnancy.
2) Calcium – Calcium not only helps with the formation of strong bones and teeth, it also helps in maintaining and running your circulatory, muscular and nervous systems. An inadequate amount of calcium will cause your body to sap it from your bones, which is predominantly where calcium is stored. When your bones are robbed of calcium, they lose their bone mass and could lead to osteoporosis, which thins your bones and makes them more susceptible to breaking. Calcium is mainly found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. However, it is also found in salmon, spinach, and calcium fortified orange juice. 1,000 milligrams of calcium is recommended daily for women, and 1,300 milligrams for pregnant teenagers.
3) Vitamin D – Vitamin D, like calcium, also aids in the development of bones and helps promote bone strength. Vitamin D allows the body to properly absorb and metabolize calcium and phosphorous, and supports the immune system and healthy cell division. In a recent study, researchers found that 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day helped to prevent infections at birth and preterm labor. Vitamin D is found in salmon, milk, and eggs.
4) Protein – The building blocks of your body’s cells are amino acids. These amino acids make up the protein not only your body regularly needs, but your baby’s as well. Protein is important throughout your pregnancy, but it is vital during the second and third trimesters when the baby is growing more rapidly. Protein is commonly found in eggs, peanut butter, fish, lentils, milk, and poultry. 71 grams of protein is the optimal daily dose for pregnant women.
5) Iron – A woman’s volume of blood doubles during pregnancy to help create a baby’s entire blood supply, which also doubles the need for iron. Your body uses iron in the production of hemoglobin, which is a protein that transports oxygen to your tissues via red blood cells. An insufficient amount of iron in pregnant women can lead to fatigue and anemia, and also increases the susceptibility of infections and low birth weight. 27 milligrams of iron is recommended daily, and can be found in beans, spinach, oats, and poultry.