PREGNANCY NUTRITION &IMPORTANCE OF FOLIC ACID
What a woman eats during pregnancy is the main source of nourishment to the baby. It provides the needed nutrients required for the growth of the growing baby. Various characteristics of the baby are determined from thus stage of growth itself. So healthy food is to be consumed during this stage of pregnancy.
KEY PREGNANCY NUTRITION:
Some certain elements such as calcium, folic acid, iron and protein are needed in more quantity for a pregnant lady.
Folic acid is also known as folate when it is found in food. It is basically a B- vitamin which is very much crucial in preventing birth defects in the baby brain and spinal cord, which is known as neural tube defects. The required amount of folic acid may not be supplied completely through diet. So as per the recommendation of March of Dimes, pregnant ladies should consume a daily vitamin supplement containing 400 micrograms of folic acid per day for at least one month before conceiving. But during pregnancy, the amount should be increased to 600 micrograms per day which is an amount commonly found in a daily prenatal vitamin. Leafy green vegetables, fortified or enriched cereals, bread and pasta, beans, citrus fruits are the main food sources of folic acid.
Calcium is an important mineral for the better development of baby’s teeth and bones. If the pregnant lady lacks the consumption of required calcium, then the baby will be provided with the calcium from mother’s bones and it may lack the calcium level of the mother. Vitamin D is also a supplier of calcium for teeth and bones. According to ACOG, pregnant women of age 19 and over need 1000 milligrams of calcium per day and pregnant teens of age 14 to 18 require 1300 milligrams of calcium per day. Milk, yoghurt, cheese, calcium-fortified foods and juices, sardines or salmon with bones, leafy greens (kale, bok choy) are the main food sources of calcium.
27 milligrams of iron is needed for a pregnant lady daily. This is double the amount of iron needed to the body who are not expecting. This additional requirement is needed for the supply of oxygen through blood to the baby. Lack of iron during pregnancy could increase the risk of getting anaemia, which could increase the risk of getting infections and result in fatigue. Vitamin C is better recommended to be consumed for providing iron in the body. Meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, iron-fortified cereal are the main food sources of iron.
Proteins are needed in large quantity during pregnancy. But the pregnant woman who lacks proteins is not much affected. These proteins are needed for building important organs in the body of the baby such as brain and heart. So protein is termed as builder nutrient. Meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, eggs, nuts, tofu are the main food sources of protein.
The main goal of pregnancy is to keep the body healthy by eating a lot of good food. Mainly during pregnancy, the mother should eat fruits, vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and dairy products. This is for the better growth of baby inside. The amount of food is such that each of it contains a quarter portion of the plate and a dairy product too.
FOODS TO LIMIT:
During pregnancy certain food are to be limited. Caffeine and fish are to be limited. The caffeine amount should be fewer than 200 milligrams that is one 12- ounce cup of coffee. The higher amount could lead to miscarriage or premature birth. The mother should limit the consumption of albacore or white tuna as it contains high levels of mercury which could harm the baby’s developing brain.
FOODS TO AVOID:
Some kind of foods are to be completely avoided during pregnancy. Alcohol, fish containing high levels of mercury, unpasteurized food, raw meat is to be avoided.
IMPORTANCE OF FOLIC ACID:
It is critically important to have sufficient amount of folic acid in the body during pregnancy. Folic acid helps in preventing serious defects such as neural tube defects (NTDs) which affects spinal cord and brain. The embryo has the neural tube from where the spinal cord and brain develop. NTDs occurs during the early stages of pregnancy, it may occur even when you get to know you are pregnant. That is why consumption of folic acid is important even before you become pregnant that is from the time itself you try to get conceived. This could prevent about 70 percent chances of getting NTDs to the baby.
Sometimes your baby gets avoided from certain disorders such as cleft lip, cleft palate and certain heart defects. Preeclampsia which is a serious blood pressure disorder could also be prevented. Folic acid could also make normal red blood cells and also prevents a type of anaemia. Folic acid helps in the production, repair and functioning of DNA, genetic map, and also a basic building block of cells.