With pregnancy, the whole world suddenly changes. At the same time, it is important not only to take care of oneself, but also to care for the unborn child. How should you feed yourself now? Do you even have to change your life? Do you need dietary supplements during pregnancy? In this article we have looked at these questions for you and try to help you on the path of pregnancy with advice and deeds.
In pregnancy, as an aspiring mother, you naturally only want the best for the child who is born. First of all, of course, this includes your own balanced, healthy diet. A diet with sufficient trace elements and vitamins is important not only for your health, but also before birth for the unborn baby – sometimes from the time you want to have a child.
In order to fully promote the unborn child in its development, it needs nutrients and vitamins, some of which cannot be completely covered even by a balanced diet. Especially the usual dietary style is rich in carbohydrates (white bread, pasta or refined sugar), but contains only a few minerals or vitamins.
Here, dietary supplements help you during pregnancy and also when you want to have a child. For even respected scientists stress that a meaningful dietary supplement for many people (including, of course, pregnant women) is an important and meaningful way to preserve the vital vitamins and minerals.
However, we can reassure you about the risks that are feared, because the dietary supplements sold in Germany and Austria are subject to strict legal requirements.
Here in our blog we present particularly important nutrients for the unborn baby, which women should eat during pregnancy or partly after the desire to have children. You don’t have to pay attention to countless nutrients, because it is only a small but fine selection of the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin B6
- Folic acid
Vitamin B6 for healthy growth
This vitamin is important not only for your health, but also for that of the baby. It is indispensable for the performance of the heart, brain or liver, but also for the growth of the unborn. It also helps build up the body’s protein and supports blood formation. Therefore, women have an increased need for vitamin B6 during pregnancy (from 1.2 milligrams to 1.9 milligrams per day).
This vitamin is usually absorbed in small amounts via nuts, seeds, cereals and yeast, all of which contain vitamin B6. However, the important nutrient is mainly found in animal foods such as eggs, meat, fish, innards or dairy products. Vegans in particular have a harder time here. If you are a vegan, it is also recommended to take vitamin B12. Dietary supplements also help here, because vitamin B complexes are available completely vegan.
Vitamin B6, or vitamin B and C in general, cannot be too much, by the way, because these are water-soluble vitamins. These are excreted by the body in the event of an excess. Overdose is not possible here.
The most famous vitamin needed: folic acid
In almost all articles in magazines about pregnancy, the B vitamin folic acid is mentioned – quite rightly. It is the supplement that is uncontroversially recommended by doctors. No wonder, because it is inherently important for the cell formation, cell division and the growth of a baby before birth, especially in early pregnancy. In the fourth week of pregnancy, the neural tube of the fetus closes and here the organism needs a lot of folic acid. In the case of folic acid deficiency, the so-called neural tube defect (spina bifida, or popularly called “open back”) can occur, which is expressed by missteps of the spinal cord, central nervous system or the lumbar spine. Even a miscarriage, a stillbirth or severe damage to the newborn are possible in the course of this.
The problem is that this early, important folic acid requirement occurs at a stage where most pregnant women do not yet know that they are pregnant. Therefore, it is recommended by doctors that women already at the request of a child take a dietary supplement with folic acid. In addition, this leads to the fact that already at the beginning of the pregnancy there is sufficient folic acid and thus the body is well prepared.
Even after early pregnancy, you still need this indispensable nutrient, because even in later weeks, if the baby lacks folic acid, there may be rare congenital heart defects, lip-jaw palatin clefts or Down syndrome, to name just a few examples. Care must be taken to ensure that folic acid is supplied daily, because contrary to other vitamins and minerals it cannot be stored by the body.
In general, the body is insufficiently supplied with folic acid via the diet – in contrast to the previous vitamin B6, where a balanced diet is sufficient. Nevertheless, vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and kale contain larger amounts of folic acid. It is important that you do not heat this vegetable too much, as folic acid is very volatile. Therefore, steam these meals or side dishes only gently or prepare a healthy smoothie. We have a small recipe for this. Take for a glass of green smoothie:
- 50 ml water
- 100 g green leaf salad
- 200 g broccoli
- 1 pinch smooth parsley
Break the broccoli into florets and then wash the green salad, parsley and broccoli. Add these three ingredients, including the water, to the stand mixer and mix. Pour into a glass and dilute with water if necessary. Finished!
Since the pregnancy causes an even higher need (0.6 milligrams during pregnancy, otherwise 0.4 milligrams), it is recommended to take folic acid via dietary supplements. Of course, this is also possible here completely vegan.
Calcium – The Bone Mineral
The first of the four important minerals is calcium, which is mainly needed for bone building. During pregnancy, a woman must not only cover her own calcium needs, but also that of the unborn baby before birth. Women should therefore consume about one gram of calcium daily whenthey wish to have children and during pregnancy.
Unfortunately, the mineral is mainly found in milk and dairy products, which is not possible with lactose intolerance or a vegan diet. In addition to legumes, some vegetables (e.g. broccoli), fennel, chard, kale or sesame seeds as well as commercial supplements help here. You should first consider your own diet and consider whether a dietary supplement is necessary during pregnancy. Especially in Germany, the adequate supply of calcium is more often a problem than in neighbouring countries. This is due not only to the different diets but also to the natural situation of the country – the water and the soil also have an influence here.
Iodine in small pinches as a dietary supplement
This necessary nutrient is also necessary before and during pregnancy (approximately 200 micrograms per day). Too little iodine can lead to significant risks, such as miscarriage. In addition, a deficiency can also lead to hearing and speech disorders of the newborn. It is needed for the formation of the thyroid gland of the fetus. Therefore, one should eat enough iodine,especially in the first three months of pregnancy. From the tenth week of pregnancy, the unborn baby also needs this mineral for the already developed thyroid gland.
Here, too, it is recommended that the memory should be filled at the very time of the child’s wish, so that the unborn baby is well cared for at conception. Since the commercially available table salt is iodised, add some iodine over the light salting of the food. One to two sea fish dishes per week are also recommended. A natural yoghurt also contains this nutrient. However, you do not yet fully cover the increased demand. The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) therefore recommends using iodine in dietary supplements in addition to iodized salt and fish dishes. This also simplifies the intake for vegans: there is also a correspondingly vegan dietary supplement here.
When adding iodine, care must be taken that pregnant women with thyroid diseases should check the dose with the doctor beforehand.
Iron for healthy blood formation
A lack of iron is relatively common among women and pregnant women. The German German Medical Association found in a study that almost half of women of childbearing age have a deficiency of iron. This is mainly due to blood loss related to the period. In severe cases, this can also lead to anaemia (iron deficiency anemia). More common symptoms include fatigue, lack of concentration, headache, pallor or low resilience, up to shortness of breath and dizziness.
This mineral is used for the formation of red blood cells and thus for blood formation. Since women also have to form the blood of the unborn baby during pregnancy, the need increases significantly – namely to double (30 milligrams per day). Especially in the last three months of pregnancy, you have to take care of the iron balance. Fortunately, the human body is an ingenious organic organism and also absorbs more iron during pregnancy, which is why a deficiency is prevented here.
Nevertheless, you should be careful with your diet and eat consciously. Green vegetables, some fruits, legumes and whole grains from wheat, millet and oats contain small amounts of iron but the main supplier are meat and liver. It is therefore recommended by doctors that pregnant women eat meat or sausages – naturally lean variants – two or three times a week. Vitamin C is recommended to ensure the necessary iron balance. Vitamin C is not only used to prevent colds and strengthen the immune system, because the vitamin also improves the body’s iron absorption. Here, dietary supplements, a freshly squeezed glass of orange juice or lemon juice diluted with water help during pregnancy – all quite naturally.
Taking iron directly in the form of dietary supplements is not recommended, because too much iron means too much of the good and leads to problems. Increased iron levels can be harmful and dangerous. Therefore, one should clarify one’s own iron requirements with the family doctor. In this way, a defect can be reacted to in good time.
Z like cell division – Z like zinc
The last mineral is the zinc,which is responsible for cell division. A lack of this nutrient should be avoided as much as possible, because such a deficit can lead to a comparatively low birth weight. However, if there is a particularly large deficiency, a miscarriage can even occur. Due to pregnancy, women need slightly more zinc (10 milligrams) than usual. For pregnant women themselves, zinc is also beneficial for metabolism. In addition, zinc prevents premature placental detachment. It also improves the healthy development of the unborn child. This way you not only strengthen your health, but also that of the resulting baby before birth.
This mineral is mainly found in meat products such as lamb, beef and turkey meat or sardines. Cheese, whole grains and wheat germs can also help. In addition, you can eat legumes, poppy seeds, nuts or dried fruits. It can also be helped here with a completely vegan dietary supplement. As with calcium, German women are more likely to suffer from zinc deficiency than elsewhere. Zinc is one of the few minerals that is important in children’s planning. In women, it increases fertility.
Targeted help through dietary supplements: In any case folic acid and iodine
During pregnancy, some vitamins and minerals are necessary in increased amounts. However, these are relatively easy to cover with a balanced diet and dietary supplements. Doctors recommend, however, that one does not simply take an unnecessary number of “multivitamin tablets” additionally, but rather addresses the corresponding deficiencies in a targeted manner. Here helps a conversation with the family doctor and a detailed discussion with your own diet. If you find deficiencies, dietary supplements help to compensate. This way you avoid unnecessary risks for your still unborn child.
Of course, pregnant women have an increased need for all nutrients. Nevertheless, as mentioned, no “multivitamin tablets” are necessary here and are not recommended. On the contrary, in most cases, only the additives described are sufficient. But why? This is because pregnant women are already eating this general extra requirement through their diet. Individual nutrients are nevertheless interesting and beneficial as a supplement.
In particular, the vitamin folic acid and the mineral iodine are recommended as dietary supplements. Both are important for the proper care of the unborn baby (e.g. According to studies in the journal JAMA and the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. One should not be misled, because it is often mentioned that almost all nutrients can be covered by a balanced diet. Experts recommend dietary supplements here, however: Not only the German Society for Nutrition (DGE), but also physicians advise at least with the vitamin folic acid and the mineral iodine to think about supplementation. The DGE also recommends that folic acid preparations begin to take at least one month before the start of pregnancy.
However, the addition of nutrients is a highly individual thing, which is why it is best to discuss with your GP which preparations you and their offspring need. They are not alone here, because every pregnant woman has her own special need for vitamins and minerals, which she can cover with a balanced diet and dietary supplements.