With the increased popularity and evidence supporting nutritional supplementation, it is no surprise that there are a wide range of vitamin and mineral combinations becoming available for Mums to be. Ideally, it is best to start a pre-conception diet, lifestyle and supplement regime to ensure the body is in the best condition to provide a safe and nourishing environment, however it is never too late to start. By providing nutrients to expectant mothers, the health of both mother and child can be encouraged to thrive.
Invariably Mums and Dads ask the question, What do the nutrients do?
So this is summarised account of what the vitamins and minerals in these formulae do and an outline of the benefits for the baby.
B vitamins are mostly helpful as a group to assist in carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. This allows the food eaten by mum to be put to the best use in the body and free up the nutrients contained in the food. The individual B vitamins also specific roles such as B1 and B2 being a common deficiency and supplementation promoting healthy birth size and weight. Vitamin B5 helps with generating energy from food. Vitamin B6 may help mum with morning sickness and research shows it may be of benefit in reducing toxaemia of pregnancy. Vitamin B12 assists in the building of new red blood cells to carry oxygen and is essential for DNA and RNA synthesis (this is the material which makes up our genetic code.
Folic acid is widely talked about as a pregnancy supplement. It compliments B12 in forming red blood cells and is essential in cell division in the growing foetus. Deficiency of folic acid is associated with neural tube defects such as spina bifada.
Vitamin E, also known as d-alpha tocopherol, helps to stabilise cell membranes, strengthen blood vessel walls and prevents fats and proteins from oxidising. Research also shows that it may reduce the risk of preclampsia and promote health birth weight.
Vitamin C is a potent anti-oxidant protecting cells from damage. It also is vital in collagen formation (skin,hair,nails), wound healing and red blood cell formation. Vitamin C also helps in iron absorption and white blood cell production
Zinc is required for proper foetal growth and immune function. Zinc is primarily useful at catalyzing (speeding up) biochemical processes and is a common deficiency.
Calcium is vital for bone and teeth health as well as nerve development and insulin secretion.
Magnesium is also used for bone and teeth growth along with helping relax muscles and helping the function of hundreds of enzymes, especially the ones for energy.
Iodine is put to use for normal growth, development and thyroid function. It has also been the subject of recent studies for deficiency and has been associated with healthy cognitive development.
Hopefully this has been helpful in understanding just what nutrients do and why most health care professionals will recommend a nutritional supplement to assist growth and development of the newest member of your family and keep mum in top shape also.