Pregnancy & Nutrients

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Pregnancy & Nutrients

Definition

Pregnancy is the growth and development of a new individual, a baby, within a woman. It is important the mother receives sufficient amounts of certain vitamins and minerals.

Description

This is intended as a general guide only. See your Doctor for advice.

FOLATE

Folate (or folic acid) is a B group vitamin that can prevent neural tube defects, including spina bifida, if taken before conception and early in pregnancy. As approximatley half of all pregnancies are unplanned, all women of child bearing age should take extra folate. Pregnancy increases the daily requirement for folate. Women should aim to consume at least 600mcg (micrograms) of folate from their normal daily diet plus an additional 400mcg of folic acid each day for a month before and three months after conception.

Folic acid is available as a supplement or in the form of fortified foods. All wheat flour used in bread making in Australia must now contain folic acid (with the exception of flour used in 'organic' bread). Three slices of fortified bread (100g) contains an average of 120mcg of folic acid. Some but not all breakfast cereals and fruit juices sold in Australia may also have folic acid added.

You need to take a bigger dose of folic acid if;

  • you have had a baby with spina bifida
  • you have diabetes
  • you are taking medicine for epilepsy
  • you have coeliac disease

Speak to your midwife or doctor about this.

OTHER VITAMINS AND MINERALS

During pregnancy, women need to increase their intake of certain vitamins and minerals, as described below. Usually these extra vitamins and minerals can be obtained from dietary sources.

VITAMIN A: Usual daily requirement for women of childbearing age: 750mcg. Women require an additional 450mcg of vitamin A while they are breastfeeding.

NIACIN (VITAMIN B3): Usual daily requirement: 13mg. Women require an additional 2 mg of niacin while they are pregnant and 5mg of niacin while they are breastfeeding.

THIAMIN (VITAMIN B1): Usual daily requirement: 0.8mg. Women require an additional 0.2 of thiamin while they are pregnant and 0.4mg of thiamin while they are breastfeeding.

Riboflavine (VITAMIN B2): Usual daily requirement: 1.2mg. Women require an additional 0.3mg of Riboflavine while they are pregnant and 0.5mg of Riboflavine while they are breastfeeding.

VITAMIN B6: Usual daily requirement: 0.9-1.4mg. Women require an additional 0.1mg of vitamin B6 while they are pregnant and 0.7-0.8 of vitamin B6 while they are breastfeeding.

VITAMIN B12: Usual daily requirement: 2mg. Women require an additional 1mg of vitamin B12 while they are pregnant and 0.5mg of vitamin B12 while they are breastfeeding.

VITAMIN C: Usual daily requirement: 30mg. Women require an additional 30mg of vitamin C while they are pregnant and 45mg of vitamin C while they are breastfeeding.

VITAMIN E: Usual daily requirement: 7mg. Women require an additional 2.5mg of vitamin E while they are breastfeeding.

ZINC: Usual daily requirement: 12mg. Women require and additional 4mg of zinc while they are pregnant and 6mg of zinc while they are breastfeeding.

IRON: Usual daily requirement: 12-16mg. Women require an additional 10mg of iron in their first trimester and 20mg of iron in their second trimester. A recent clinical study indicates that taking supplemental iron early in pregnancy may lead to an improvement in birth outcomes, specifically birth weight, regardless of the mother's iron status.

IODINE: Usual daily requirement: 120mcg. Women require an additional 30 mcg of iodine while they are pregnant and 50mg of iodine while they are breastfeeding.

MAGNESIUM: Usual daily requirement: 270mg. Women require and additional 30mg of magnesium while they are pregnant and 70mg of magnesium while they are breastfeeding.

CALCIUM: Usual daily requirement: 800mg. Women require an additional 300mg of calcium while they are pregnant and 400mg of calcium while they are breastfeeding.

PHOSPHORUS: Usual daily requirement: 1000 mg. Women require an extra 200mg of phosphorus while they are pregnant and breastfeeding.

SELENIUM: Usual daily requirement: 70mcg. Women require an additional 10mcg of selenium while they are pregnant and 15mcg of selenium while they are breastfeeding.

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