Recently, I began teaching from a new textbook for the Pediatric Nutrition course at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. The book, “The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care” does an excellent job of emphasizing the importance of nutrition prior to conceiving and once a baby is conceived. It correctly states that “No other society is as careless about preparation for pregnancy and birth as our own.” Here is a summary of the importance of the 3 top nutrients in pregnancy; I think you will find this to be rather shocking information.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is critical for the optimal, expression of the genetic potential, for strong bones, healthy skin, keen eye sight, mineral metabolism, hormone production, and mental stability. It even makes bigger babies! Without Vitamin A:
- The liver, heart, kidneys and lungs of the fetus cannot form properly
- The potential for miscarriage increases
- The potential for premature delivery increases
- There can be prolonged labour and death of the mother and baby during labour
- There might be defects of the eye (including the complete absence of eyes), nose, dental arches or lips
- Displacement of internal organs
- Deafness due to degeneration of the nervous system.
The best source of Vitamin A is cod liver oil; it contains an important omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, which is needed for brain development. DHA also prevents postpartum depression! The recommended dosage of Vitamin A during pregnancy is 2,600 IU
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D consumed before pregnancy is necessary for:
- Preparing the mother’s bones, teeth, organs and brain for pregnancy
- Sperm production in fathers-to-be
- The period of rapid growth that the fetus undergoes in the third trimester that requires calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps with lung development and prevents heart failure and convulsions.
The recommended dosage of Vitamin D during pregnancy is 2,000 IU. Vitamin D works with Vitamin A. Cod Liver Oil contains both Vitamin A and D; the recommended dosage of Cod Liver Oil during pregnancy is 2 teaspoons per day.
Folate is necessary for:
- The production of new DNA needed for new cells
- Preventing neural tube defects (defects of brain and spinal cord)
- Increasing birth weight
- Preventing spontaneous abortion
- Preventing mental retardation
- Preventing deformations of the mouth, face and heart
The recommended dosage of Folate during pregnancy is 600 micrograms (mcg) per day.
These nutrients are so important that they must be taken as supplements rather than relying on food to provide the necessary amounts but a nutrient dense diet is critical for creating healthy babies. It is my hope that this blog post is read by expectant mothers or forwarded to them, so that we can begin to reverse the trend of so many babies being born with health challenges. Mom’s health will also benefit from understanding and incorporating more nutrition in her life!
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