Blueberries: Superfood with Benefits for Pregnancy and Beyond
June 16, 2016
Blueberries are a simple and healthy food that can brighten just about any meal. Now is the perfect time to enjoy blueberries as they are in season and less expensive than at other times of the year. The summer of 2015 marked the 100-year anniversary of the first commercially grown crop of blueberries.1 Since that time, these little blue dynamos have been gaining in popularity and providing numerous health benefits to pregnant women.
One of the most prevalent nutrients found in blueberries is vitamin C. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, pregnant and lactating women need 60 mg of vitamin C per day.2 A single serving of fresh blueberries, just 1/2 cup, provides 10 percent of the daily recommended value.3 Vitamin C works as an antioxidant in the body to combat free radicals and protect our cells.4 It plays a role in healing wounds, boosting the immune system, and helping our bodies absorb iron efficiently. Iron absorption is extremely important during pregnancy because a woman’s blood volume expands rapidly to support the growing needs of her baby.
During preconception and early pregnancy, folate is perhaps the most critical nutrient that women should consume. Folate is the naturally occurring form of folic acid, and it plays a major role in the baby’s neural tube development. Complete neural tube closure is needed for the baby’s spinal cord to develop properly. This closure occurs very early in a pregnancy – by 28 days post-conception.5 For this reason , it is recommended that pregnant women consume 800 mcg (0.8 mg) of folate per day.2 While a 1/2-cup serving of fresh blueberries only provides 5 mcg of folate, every bit helps in meeting daily goals.6
A 1/2-cup serving of fresh blueberries provides 57 g of potassium.6 Potassium helps the body maintain fluids and keep electrolytes balanced. During pregnancy women experience a massive increase in blood volume, making their electrolyte balance that much more important. Because of this, women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should increase their potassium consumption to 4700 mg of potassium per day.7 When electrolytes get out of balance, the body becomes dehydrated, which can lead to muscle cramping or tightness.
Women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant should consume at least 25 g of fiber each day.7 A single serving of fresh blueberries provides 2 g of fiber, or a moderate 8 percent of daily recommended value.3 For everyone, fiber aids in digestion and may help alleviate constipation. But there are additional benefits for pregnant women. Some studies suggest that eating the daily recommended amount of fiber may reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.8
Blueberry Extract Benefits in Prenatal Vitamins
Because of the many health benefits of blueberries and the flavor enhancement they provide, several of the prenatal vitamins in the Prenate® Vitamin Family contain blueberry extract, including:
The blueberry extract, along with the antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E, help prevent omega-3 “burp back” that can occur when taking a multivitamin. 9-12
The Prenate® Vitamin Family is committed to promoting women’s health. Prenate® Vitamins can help support mother and baby throughout pregnancy and through labor and delivery. Even with a balanced and healthy diet, many women have trouble meeting their daily recommended intakes for certain vitamins and minerals. Talk to your doctor to see if a prenatal vitamin may be right for you to help fill nutritional gaps.