Essential Nutrients in Your Prenatal Diet: 1st Trimester
May 26, 2016
During the first trimester of pregnancy rapid cell division and the foundation of the internal organs and central nervous system are developing. Perhaps the most critical time of a pregnancy, the first trimester requires essential nutrients to support the baby’s development. By this time women should eliminate alcohol and smoking from their daily routine. Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, veggies, fruit and lean protein can help support both mom and baby during the first trimester.
These essential nutrients should be included in every prenatal diet during the first trimester:
Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale, are excellent natural sources of folic acid. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant women consume 800 mcg of folate daily during pregnancy.1 Folic acid plays a critical role very early in pregnancy. The development and closure of a baby’s neural tube (which eventually becomes the spine) occurs between day 14 and day 28 of pregnancy. Folic acid levels impact neural tube closure and because this development occurs so early in pregnancy, a mom-to-be need to make sure she is consuming an adequate amount of folic acid before conception.
Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods, including nuts eggs and beans. Most Americans obtain their dietary vitamin B6 from fortified cereals, beef, poultry, starchy vegetables and non-citrus fruits.2 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant women consume 2.5 mg of vitamin B6 daily during pregnancy.1 It is estimated that nearly 85% of pregnant women suffer from common morning sickness, which is most prevalent during the first trimester.3 The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends vitamin B6 to help ease nausea, one of the symptoms associated with common morning sickness.4,5
Lean red meats are naturally high in iron. Legumes, vegetables and grains are other natural sources. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that pregnant women get 18 mg of iron daily.1 During pregnancy, a woman’s blood volume increases 50 percent and her need for hemoglobin is greater. Iron helps maintain a healthy immune system and prevents anemia. Iron is an essential mineral in the body’s formation of hemoglobin, the red protein in the blood that is responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. Sufficient iron helps a growing baby receive the amount of oxygen needed to develop a strong heart, lungs, and muscles. In addition, iron benefits a mother by helping boost her energy and helping keep her muscles, heart, lungs and other organs functioning healthfully.
DHA is found naturally in fish, eggs and meats. Non-marine food sources that contain DHA include nuts, seeds, whole grains and dark leafy vegetables. Oily fish, like mackerel, herring, salmon and trout, typically contain 10-100 times more DHA than non-marine food sources.6 However, women who are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant need to be extremely careful when consuming marine food sources that contain DHA. Many of these fish contain high levels of mercury, and high levels of mercury can be toxic for both pregnant women and developing babies. But DHA is essential for growth and functional development of an infant’s brain.7 During pregnancy DHA also helps with the baby’s length of gestation, and birth weight.8,9
Fill Nutritional Gaps with Prenatal Vitamins
While a balanced diet is preferred, some women may have trouble meeting their daily recommended intakes for certain vitamins and minerals. The Prenate® Vitamin Family offers a line of prenatal vitamins that are designed to carry moms and babies through preconception to pregnancy and into the weeks and months after delivery.
The Prenate® Vitamin Family help support expecting moms with robust doses of key nutrients. Prenate® Pixie is a small softgel prenatal vitamin that can be taken before conception and is mighty enough to support mom and baby through pregnancy. Prenate Mini® is mini-sized but robust softgel prenatal supplement with 14 nutrient forms. Talk to your doctor to see if a prenatal vitamin may be right for you to help fill nutritional gaps.