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Which Vitamins Should You Be Taking When Pregnant And Why?

During pregnancy, a mother's body goes through a lot of hormonal changes. It prepares itself for the development of the fetus and forthcoming responsibilities. So, it is imperative to consume food rich in vitamins and minerals.

Proper weight gain, healthy eating habits, and regular exercise mitigate the chances of complications. Additionally, a mother’s lifestyle during pregnancy can have a long term impact on the child’s life, predominantly in their cognitive development, chances of becoming obese, and heart health.

According to a recent report, in spite of widespread use of prenatal vitamins, 5 to 50 percent pregnant women and 10 to 56 percent breastfed infants suffer from vitamin deficiency. This is because these vitamin supplements are insufficient to maintain healthy vitamin D levels (≥32 ng/mL), which can be gained from the food that we consume.

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Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin is necessary for the production of red blood cells, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. It is bound to protein in the food we consume and is released by the activity of gastric protease and hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

During pregnancy, when vitamin B12 combines with folic acid, it can prevent several spinal or central nervous system defects, including spina bifida in the infant at the time of birth. Low vitamin B12 increases the odds of neural tube defects.

A significant source of vitamin B12 is not found in plant foods, but fortified breakfast cereals can be a good source. Animal products such as beef, lamb, pork, fish, poultry, dairy products, and nutritional yeast products are rich in vitamin B12.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, a necessary ingredient for healthy bones. It is essential for the mother and the developing fetus. By regulating the calcium and phosphate balance, vitamin D an play a vital role in bone metabolism.

Low vitamin D increases the chances of pre-eclampsia, the primary cause of maternal and infant mortality. Other adverse health issues include low birth weight, neonatal hypocalcemia, fragile bone, increased risk of developing autoimmune diseases, and weak postnatal growth.

Fatty fish such as salmon, and tuna, dairy products, cheese, cereals, beef liver, and egg yolks are a good source of Vitamin D.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an antioxidant required for our skin, bones, and connective tissues. Subsequently, it helps our body absorb iron and boost the immune system.

Deficiency of vitamin C in pregnant women may have a severe impact on the fetus’ brain. According to recent a study, even borderline vitamin C deficiency during pregnancy can hinder the development of baby's hippocampus, an integral part of the brain responsible for memory, by 10 - 15 percent.

Vitamin C can be found in vegan food such as green and leafy vegetables, tomatoes, and winter squash.

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It is best to establish a healthy diet before becoming pregnant to make sure a woman’s body has the required vitamin levels for a healthy pregnancy.

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