All pregnant women know that folic acid is essential for having a healthy baby.
Taking recommended 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day before and during pregnancy could help prevent birth defects in a baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Researchers have found that other nutrients are also important for a healthy pregnancy.
Here are 6 nutrients every woman needs for a healthy pregnancy.
Recent research has found that taking vitamin D supplements in pregnancy could improve the immune system of the newborn baby.
This may protect against asthma and respiratory infections, a known risk factor for developing asthma in childhood.
Another recent study has found that vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy is linked to increased autism traits of a child.
Therefore, sufficient vitamin D is not only vital for maintaining healthy bones in pregnant women, but also important for brain growth in babies.
A recent study has shown that omega-3 in maternal diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding may help protect infants from type 1 diabetes.
In another study, researchers found that when pregnant women took a daily fish oil capsule from 20 weeks pregnant, and during the first 3-4 months of breastfeeding, the risk of egg allergy in the child was reduced by 30%.
Scientists suggest that during the early months of an infant, omega-3 is critical because this is a time when the immune system is maturing and being programmed.
Scientists have found that vitamin E deficiency can lead to neurologic damage to an embryo, a process that in women can cause miscarriage.
In the growing embryo, vitamin E plays a major role in protecting essential fats such as DHA.
When vitamin E is deficient, the embryonic brain is starved of necessary energy and nutrients, particularly DHA and choline.
The finding makes clear the importance of vitamin E for any woman who is planning to or might become pregnant.
Choline can be found in egg yolks, lean red meat, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts, and cruciferous vegetables. Choline is ‘brain food’ that can help the development of the brain, cells, and nerves.
A recent Cornell study found that when women consume sufficient nutrient choline during pregnancy, their babies’ brain can get big health benefits.
Pregnant women who daily consumed close to twice the currently recommended amount of choline during their last trimester could help their babies develop cognitive functions.
Iodine is a critical nutrient in pregnancy. The mineral is essential for developing healthy brains in babies.
However, many women are deficient in iodine. The deficiency could stunt a baby’s brain development.
The best food-based iodine sources include marine (not freshwater) seafood, seaweed, iodized salt, and bread. Pregnant and lactating women need to take 250ug/L every day.
A recent study has found that taking a daily probiotic supplement from 36-38 weeks pregnant, and during the first three to six months of breastfeeding can reduce the risk of a child developing eczema by 22%.
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