BUILD THE BRAIN WITH FOLATE
Folate, iodine and vitamin D are of the utmost importance for pregnant women. Folate (also known as folic acid and folacin) is essential since it is involved in protein metabolism and DNA and RNA formation. Pregnant women will need between 400 and 600 micrograms of folate per day during the first trimester. It is also a good idea to also take it while trying to get pregnant.
Folate helps to build the foetus’ neural tube, a major part of the foetus’ anatomy during the early stages of development. The neural tube eventually develops into the brain and spinal column, so it is essentially the starting point for human cognition. Women who do not take the recommended allowance of folate are therefore at risk of having children with neural defects, including spina bifida.
The major food sources of folate are dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli, beans, liver and peanuts. However, the most consistent way of getting enough folate during pregnancy is to take a dietary supplement. Most multivitamins aimed at pregnant women will include folic acid, but it is also available separately in over-the-counter formulations.
IODINE FOR THYROID HEALTH
Iodine is critical for foetal health, helping with brain and thyroid development. The thyroid is often overlooked but it is a vital component of our bodies, regulating heart rate, metabolism and body temperature. An underdeveloped thyroid can cause developmental delays, deafness, and low IQ, among other things.
Food sources of iodine include seaweed, fish, iodated table salt, dairy, eggs, or beef liver. Many supplements for pregnant women will contain some iodine. It is recommended that women take 150mcg daily before pregnancy, 220mcg daily during pregnancy, and 290mcg daily while breastfeeding.
VITAMIN D FOR BONES AND TEETH
In a nutshell, vitamin D helps the foetus to absorb phosphorus and calcium, allowing for healthy bones and teeth. It also helps them to develop a healthy immune system. There is some controversy around the optimal amount of vitamin D for pregnant women. Recent studies have indicated that 4000IU daily is required, although this figure is disputed. However, most multivitamins only contain 400IU. It should be kept in mind that the best way to absorb vitamin D is direct sunlight. However, no more than five to 10 minutes of direct sun two to three days a week is recommended.