Essential minerals for pregnancy
Be sure to get these 12 important minerals for your and your baby’s health. You can meet many of your daily mineral needs by eating a well-balanced diet. But because pregnancy can cause ups and downs in eating habits and your iron and calcium needs are at an all-time high, you’ll likely need to take a prenatal vitamin.
Here’s a rundown of the functions of these important minerals:
- Calcium is essential for bone formation and growth as well as muscle and nerve regulation. During pregnancy, calcium is critical to your baby’s developing skeletal system and teeth. Calcium also can reduce the risk of developing pregnancy-related high blood pressure. Calcium is absorbed best when it’s consumed along with vitamin D—try low-fat milk fortified with vitamin D, canned salmon, or vitamin-D-fortified cereal.
- Chromium regulates blood sugar levels and stimulates protein production for your baby’s tissues. Optimum chromium intake can reduce the risk of developing pregnancy-related diabetes.
- Copper works in the development of your baby’s heart and circulatory system. It also helps maintain healthy hair and skin color.
- Fluoride aids bone and tooth enamel development.
- Iodine can help regulate your and your baby’s metabolism. Getting too little iodine during pregnancy can lead to irreversible mental retardation and other health problems for your baby. However, this threat is rare in people who use iodized salt and consume the recommended servings of other iodine-rich foods such as milk.
- Iron is enormously important during pregnancy, because your iron needs increase dramatically as a result of the increase in your blood volume and the demands of your growing baby. Iron is the oxygen carrier in the body; getting too little can leave you feeling tired, confused, and susceptible to colds and infections. Iron deficiency also reduces your ability to tolerate blood loss during labor. A way to help absorb iron is when it’s consumed along with vitamin C.
- Magnesium helps regulate energy metabolism, blood sugar levels, and nerve transmissions. It works with calcium to regulate muscle contractions, including those in the uterus.
- Manganese aids in enzyme regulation throughout your body.
- Molybdenum is essential for all enzyme development.
- Phosphorous helps in bone formation and energy metabolism.
- Selenium is an antioxidant that protects red blood cells and cell membranes. It also helps maintain the immune system. Large quantities can be harmful, so don’t take large supplement doses.
- Zinc is a critical part of every pregnancy, because it facilitates conception. And during the pregnancy, it’s essential for enzyme development, including those enzymes that stabilize the genetic code in every cell to help maintain normal tissue growth.
Keeping up with calcium
Most prenatal multiple-vitamin-and-mineral supplements don’t contain enough calcium and magnesium to meet the increased demands of pregnancy. If you’re tired of drinking three glasses of milk every day to meet your calcium needs, try the following tips to add calcium to your diet:
- Make cream soups with evaporated fat-free milk.
- Cook oatmeal, rice, or noodles in milk instead of water.
- Add nonfat dry milk powder to muffin and quick bread recipes or pancake batter.
- Drink calcium-fortified orange juice or eat calcium-fortified cereal.
Note: If you can’t consume three calcium-rich foods each day, ask your doctor whether you should be taking a calcium-magnesium supplement.