During pregnancy a woman’s body has an increased need for certain vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron. The ideal way to achieve micro-nutritional status is through eating healthy food, including a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, and legumes. Unfortunately, the value of food nowadays is affected by cultivation and other techniques, so supplementation often becomes necessary.
It’s generally safe to continue with the more common vitamin and mineral supplements from well-known brands, although it’s best to contact the manufacturer to check whether it’s suitable for pregnancy. There are a number of different options available, including tablets, capsules, and shakes. Remember that taking supplements won’t automatically meet all of her pregnancy needs: not all of the vitamins and minerals are absorbed and used by the body and some are simply excreted by your kidneys and bowel.
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The following plant foods mostly offer all the essentials:
- Iron: green vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, raisins, avocados
- Folic acid: green vegetables, avocados, spanspek, green melons, grapefruit, naartjies, oranges, pears, strawberries, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds
- Calcium: figs, gooseberries, avocados, dates, grapes, guavas, kiwifruit, lemons, mangoes, melons, oranges, paw-paw, pears, prickly pears, prunes, nuts and seeds
- Magnesium: bananas, nuts, seeds
- Vitamin A: red, orange and green veggies, highly coloured fruits like mangoes (mega doses of supplements are not advised, but dietary inclusion is safe and essential)
- Vitamin B2: soy beans, almonds, beet greens, spinach, asparagus
- Vitamin B6: sunflower seeds, banana, sweet potato, potato, spinach
- Vitamin B12: mostly found in animal foods and mushrooms; otherwise added to foods
- Zinc: nuts, seeds, legumes, soya, grains
Most obstetricians will prescribe a general mineral and vitamin pregnancy supplement toward the end of her first trimester. These are usually safe and often necessary, although some of them can cause headaches and digestive problems like nausea, cramps, bloating, and heartburn and you may need swap to another brand. Remember that it is possible to take too many vitamins and minerals, so if a woman is already taking general supplements she’ll need to check with her doctor that she is not taking too much of any vitamin or mineral in her pregnancy supplement. She also needs to take into account all of the micro-nutrients which she is getting from her food each day. The best approach is simply to supplement when she feels problems developing in a certain facet of her health:
- Vitamin B6 – for pregnancy nausea
- Essential fatty acids – for eczema, dry skin, anxiety, tearfulness, and depression
- Iron – for anaemia and extreme tiredness
There are a few vitamins and minerals which a woman should take during pregnancy:
- Calcium – she’ll need more during pregnancy
- Folic acid – especially from three months before she falls pregnant until the end of the first trimester, to help prevent spinal problems; good food sources also include almonds, sunflower seeds, green vegetables, avocados, spanspek, green melons, and strawberries.
Vitamin A considerations
Vitamin A is an antioxidant and detoxifying nutrient which can be stored in the body. Because of this, it has been linked to some birth defects. However, these were only from excessive supplementation and not from food sources like red, orange, and green vegetables, and fruits like mangoes. Topical skincare products containing vitamin A are generally safe too, because not enough is absorbed through the skin to do any real harm – check its suitability for pregnancy with manufacturers to be safe. Don’t let these considerations scare you away from vitamin A completely; it’s an important pregnancy mineral because it’s needed for the metabolism of essential fatty acids and helps keep the digestive tract, lungs, and mucous membranes healthy.
Tissue salt remedies
These tissue salt remedies are an excellent combination in pregnancy and can help to optimise cellular function and improve assimilation of nutrients from food:
- Calc fluor – for tissue elasticity and dental development
- Calc phos – for growth, development, peak body function, improved immunity, and healthy teeth, blood, and bones
- Ferrum phos – for iron assimilation, anti-inflammatory properties, and tissue strength
- Kali phos – for the healthy development of brain and nervous system tissue
- Mag phos – to help prevent cramping, optimise magnesium levels, and help prevent colic in Baby after birth