Pregnancy is a special time where the body demands extra vitamins and minerals. If this additional demand is not met by diet or supplementation, both the mother and the unborn baby are at risk. Micronutrient deficiencies during pregnancy are closely linked to pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction.
Research has shown benefits of supplementing folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, zinc, iron, selenium and iodine. Today, these micronutrients are usually included in a prenatal multi-vitamin for convenient use.
Folic acid is a must-have for preventing serious abnormalities of the fetal brain. It is an essential nutrient needed for replicating our genetic material, DNA, as well as many fundamental metabolic pathways. Deficiency not only harms the baby but could also lead to anemia and peripheral neuropathy for the mother. It is recommended that future mums start taking folic acid 3 months before getting pregnant.
Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin through UV light from the sun. It is a multi-functional nutrient that can regulate the levels of calcium, phosphate, and magnesium. Vitamin D deficiencyincreases the risks of preeclampsia, preterm birth, gestational diabetes and others.
Vitamin D deficiency has become increasingly concerning because sun exposure is limited in our modern lifestyle due to skin covering, sunscreen, and time spent indoors. Although routine supplementation with vitamin D is not currently recommended as much as folic acid, women should be assessed for vitamin D levels and consider supplementation if appropriate.
During pregnancy, calcium from the mother is crucial for supporting fetal bone development. Due to a substantially increased demand, calcium supplementation is necessary. It is also currently a preventative action for preeclampsia, especially in women who avoid dairy products.Research has shown that calcium supplementation reduces the risk of preterm birth and preeclampasia.