Vitamins and minerals play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of pregnant women. A balanced diet that provides a good supply of vitamins and minerals is essential for both mom and baby. But unfortunately, many women are not able to consume diets that actually meet the nutritional demands of pregnancy1. Here are some of the key nutrients that are needed before, during, and after pregnancy and why they’re so important.
Calcium and vitamin D are two nutrients needed for the development, maintenance, and function of our bones1. During pregnancy, calcium becomes even more important because it can lower the risk of developing complications like preeclampsia.
Calcium is just as important following childbirth. Calcium is the main component of bones and is essential for regulating the elasticity and strength of your bones. Calcium supplementation can aid in bone healing for you post-delivery as well as bone development for your breastfed baby. It can also assist with muscle relaxation and nerve transmission.
Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin because it absorbs through the skin when we’re exposed to sunlight. Not surprising then, for those who don’t live in sunshine-rich environments, it’s easy to become vitamin D deficient.
Just like calcium, vitamin D helps support healthy bone development in babies.
Vitamin D deficiency can result from a new mother’s lack of adequate sun exposure and can lead to complications with your newborn, such as nutritional rickets. Vitamin D is also important for the development of strong and healthy bones. Sun exposure or supplementation are the best ways for you and your baby to get adequate vitamin D levels.
Iron is essential during pregnancy. It helps prevents anemia and helps your body produce additional blood for you and your baby. Anemia during pregnancy can make your feel weak, tired, and lethargic. Apart from folic acid, if there was only one other nutrient you could take during your pregnancy, iron would be it.
Iron is also essential following childbirth. After delivery, the body needs to recover its supply of red blood cells. Iron is essential in this process and iron deficiency can lead to anemia, weakness, poor energy, and delayed recovery following childbirth. Healthy iron levels will help you feel better and more energized and can even improve your mood.
Choline is not a nutrient that many people have heard of. Choline supports a wide range of critical functions in the body. For example, it helps your nervous system work properly. In babies, it helps in the development of their brain and memory1.
Postpartum women, particularly those who are breastfeeding, have an increased demand for choline. Why? Because breastmilk is rich in Choline and lactation draws on its stores. Choline is in a variety of foods such as milk, eggs, and wheat germ. However, supplementation is recommended to ensure your breastfed baby is getting an adequate supply.
Although choline is found in a large number of foods, the average choline intake for most people falls far below the recommended level. Breastfeeding mothers, in particular, should be sure to get an adequate amount of choline.
Zinc is an essential element and needed for the normal growth and development of babies as well as during breastfeeding. Pregnancy changes how the body absorbs zinc. In fact, the amount of zinc required actually increases in the second and third trimesters1.
Zinc is involved in the synthesis of DNA and protein and can significantly accelerate wound healing. Even an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery can involve extensive soft tissue trauma. Zinc supplementation can improve postnatal outcomes, promote healing, and improve tissue recovery. Zinc also
- supports the immune system,
- protects the body against free radical damage,
- improves energy levels, and
- reduces the incidence and severity of infant colic.
A study carried out by the Australian Maternal and Child Health Service found that postnatal women who received zinc supplementation had increased energy levels, while their babies had a lower chance of developing infant colic1.
Nutrition before, during, and after pregnancy matters. In fact, the nutritional status of a mother can influence the course of a pregnancy, the development of the baby, and the health of the child, even into adult life1. Since most people eat a typical American diet, a large number of post-pregnant women simply don’t get all their necessary nutrients and vitamins from food alone. Postnatal supplements are a great way to fix that problem.
1) Forte white paper. Forté Postnatal: Science-based, Advanced Nutritional Support Post Pregnancy and During Lactation. https://forteelements.com/wp-content/themes/x-forte-elements/assets/pdf/forte-postnatal-nutrition-white-paper.pdf.