Trying to get pregnant? Make sure you know the bottom line on baby-making—what you don't understand can affect your bub-to-be's health.
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Iron During pregnancy, your iron requirement jumps from 15 milligrams to 30 milligrams a day; most prenatal vitamins supply 60 milligrams. Iron in the blood is responsible for carrying and delivering oxygen to every cell in your body and your baby’s body. Pregnant women have an expanded blood volume, so it makes sense that more blood requires more iron.
The downside of getting the extra iron you need from prenatal vitamins is that sometimes it can cause heartburn, dark stools and uncomfortable constipation. Some simple remedies to relieve these plumbing problems include increasing your dietary fiber by eating more fresh fruit, veggies and whole-grain breads and cereals, drinking tons of fluids — guzzle, guzzle and guzzle away — and incorporating a safe and effective exercise plan into your schedule.
The best sources of iron are lean red meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, pork, lamb, veal and eggs. Plant sources of iron include beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, iron-fortified cereals and other grains, dried fruit, spinach, broccoli, collard greens and blackstrap molasses. You can increase the absorbability of iron by coupling iron-rich foods with vitamin C: oranges, grapefruits, mangoes, strawberries, papayas, broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, raspberries, tangerines, kiwis, orange juice, grapefruit juice or other vitamin C- fortified juices.
Folic acid (folacin, folate) The Recommended Daily Allowance for folic acid is 400 micrograms per day for pregnant women; but the March of Dimes recommends 800 micrograms a day. This vitamin is needed to make the genetic material DNA, in addition to playing a vital role in cell division and red blood cell formation (along with vitamin B12). In recent years, folic acid has gained attention for its ability to reduce neural-tube birth defects.
Recently, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with an intake of less than 240 micrograms of folic acid a day had about a twofold greater risk for preterm delivery and low infant birth weights.
Foods rich in folic acid include green leafy vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, and orange juice. If you don’t think you’re getting enough through food, by all means, supplement. Continue to keep your intake high in between babies.