Micronutrient needs in pregnancy

Last Updated on March 4, 2021 by Ines

Micronutrient needs in pregnancy increase. Meeting them will help your body to successfully cope with the altered metabolism and physical changes during pregnancy. And most importantly, providing a sufficient amount of all micronutrients will help in the proper development of your baby.

Nutritional needs in pregnancy

Vitamin and mineral deficiency is a common problem in pregnancy, but with proper nutrition, you may avoid it entirely. Learn which micronutrient needs increase the most during pregnancy and which food can help you meet their daily requirements naturally.

Micronutrient needs in pregnancy

By having a balanced diet before pregnancy, you may not need additional vitamins and minerals during pregnancy. You are already used to eat healthy nutrition and thus provide your body with proper micronutrients. So, keep doing a great job!

Nevertheless, the need for some minerals and vitamins greatly increases during pregnancy, so pay attention to those I have listed below. Their deficiency is common during this time, and you might need to add them into your diet anyway.

Talk to your health care provider before taking any food supplements, especially during pregnancy!

Even if you have a proper pregnancy diet, you should add folic acid to it anyway. The best is to start with it at least four weeks before pregnancy and continue for the whole first trimester.


Folic acid is one of the most important micronutrients in pregnancy

If you start taking folic acid at least four weeks before conception, you will do a lot for the proper baby’s development. But do not stop taking it after you get pregnant!

An added dosage of folic acid is recommended throughout the whole first trimester. Some doctors even suggest that you ingest it further throughout your pregnancy.

Folic acid deficiency can cause damage to the fetal neural tube, premature birth, fetal developmental delay, and low birth weight.

Foods high in folic acid:

Folate is a group of water-soluble vitamins (Vitamin B9) found in different vegetables, seeds, nuts, and some types of fruit.

Vegetable:

  • lettuce
  • spinach
  • asparagus
  • beans
  • peas
  • lentils
  • chickpeas
  • wheat germ
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • beets
  • okra

Seeds & Nuts:

  • sunflower seeds
  • flax seeds
  • peanuts
  • almonds

Fruit:

  • oranges
  • grapefruits
  • raspberries
  • papayas

Folic acid supplements during pregnancy:

Dietary supplements for pregnant women hold an oxidized synthetic form of folate. That is the same folic acid that pregnant women often consume from a regular diet, and it absorbs well in the body.

The recommended daily amount of folate for adults is 400 micrograms (μg) per day. Those who are planning a pregnancy are advised to take 400 to 1,000 μg of folic acid a day. Normally, is 600 μg of folic acid per day enough in pregnancy.

Micronutrient Needs in Pregnancy: Folic Acid - Pink Stork
Pink Stork Folate, a natural form of Folic Acid for Pregnancy

Calcium for skeletal development and bone preservation

If calcium intake is low during pregnancy, the fetus starts drawing it from his mother’s bones and teeth. That leads to calcium deficiency, which may affect pregnant woman’s bone and teeth health.

Higher calcium needs arise somewhere between the fourth and sixth week after conception and further increases in the last trimester when the fetus grows the fastest.

Pregnant women’s body store calcium better than usual. Calcium absorption from the food increases during pregnancy, also its excretion through urine and feces is smaller. So, the need for calcium doesn’t change much in pregnancy.

The daily requirement for an adult woman is 1000 mg per day. However, many health care providers recommend about 1200 mg of calcium per day or about 1500 mg for pregnant women who carry twins.

Foods high in calcium:

Seeds & Nuts:

  • sesame seeds
  • almonds
  • brazil nuts

Animal source foods:

  • sardines
  • curd 
  • eggs
  • whole milk

Vegetable:

  • chard
  • broccoli
  • kale
  • leeks
  • spinach
  • soya

RELATED: Calcium supplements during pregnancy


Iron storage during pregnancy

Due to the absence of the period, are iron losses during pregnancy reduced. However, fetal development and growth, a higher body weight of the pregnant woman, and growing placenta increase iron needs in pregnancy anyway. 

The daily requirement of iron for a healthy adult woman is 10 mg per day, but during pregnancy, the needed daily intake increases to 30 mg, which is usually more difficult to ensure with diet. Therefore, iron monitoring is regular during your prenatal check-ups.

The fetus can store enough reserves for the first six months after birth. For this purpose, nowadays, the umbilical cord is often not cut immediately after birth, but they leave the connection between mother and newborn for at least another hour after birth. That enables an accelerated flow of iron to the newborn and thus provides him with sufficient iron supplies.

Baby’s Little Place Tip: Consuming substances that promote the absorption of iron (fruits rich in vitamin C), at the same time as iron-rich foods, will increase the amount of absorbed iron.

Iron-Rich Foods In Pregnancy:

Foods of animal origin:

  • red meat (beef, veal, pork)
  • sardines and trout
  • eggs

Foods of plant origin:

  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • dark leafy greens
  • dried fruits (apricots, prunes, raisins, and figs)
  • pumpkin and sesame seeds
  • lentils
  • soybeans
  • chickpeas
  • oats
  • rice
  • quinoa
  • flax

RELATED: Top 10 Iron-Rich Foods In Pregnancy


Vitamin C is an important micronutrient during pregnancy

The central function of vitamin C during pregnancy is increasing iron absorption.

A pregnant woman needs at least 110 mg of vitamin C a day. But those pregnant women who take prescribed iron supplements should also enrich meals with foods rich in vitamin C, even in double the amount. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so all excess is practically eliminated from the body by urine.

Foods rich in Vitamin C:

Vegetable:

  • cabbage
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • red peppers
  • tomatoes
  • potatoes
  • kale

Fruit:

  • oranges
  • kiwis
  • Black currants
  • gooseberries
  • bananas

Magnesium to regulate muscle-nerve interaction

During pregnancy, the baby’s growth increases the need for magnesium. Magnesium regulates the interaction between muscles and nerves. Such synergy ensures the smooth muscle system function, prevents muscle tension, and inhibits premature contractions.

A recommended amount of magnesium is 310 mg per day for pregnant women and 390 mg for breastfeeding mothers.

High blood pressure can prevent adequate absorption of magnesium, especially in the last weeks of pregnancy. In such a case, your OB/GYN might prescribe you magnesium supplements, such as magnesium citrate.

Rich magnesium sources are nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, legumes, kiwis, bananas, and fennel.


Iodine

Iodine is significant for the baby’s physical and mental development. But due to their changed metabolism, pregnant women need more iodine than other adult populations.

A good iodine source is iodized salt. Pregnant women are advised to use only iodized salt for meal preparation, but only in moderation. She should completely avoid other non-iodized salts, such as Himalayan or herbal salt.

Excellent sources for iodine are sea fish (salmon and herring), milk, dairy products, and iodized salt.

Your OB/GYN will determine if you need an iodine supplement and prescribe it to you if needed.


Vitamin B

The pregnant women’s need for B vitamins also increases during pregnancy. That applies especially to vitamin B6 (60%), whose needs increase by as much as 60%. 

Vitamin B6 is involved in the fetus’s brain and nervous system development, so it is important to rich its daily needs.

Excellent sources of vitamin B6:

  • fruits (without citrus)
  • fish
  • meat
  • potatoes
  • chickpeas

You can find everything about other B vitamins in our article about vitamins in pregnancy.


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All information and resources found on www.babyslittleplace.com are based on the opinions of the author unless otherwise noted. All information is intended to encourage readers to make their own nutrition and health decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider.

All information contained on this website, including information related to medical matters, health issues, treatments, and products, serves only for informational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own doctor or specialist.

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