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During pregnancy, getting the proper nutrients is of the utmost importance. Not only are you looking out for your own health and wellness, but also that of your child. Your nutrition during pregnancy plays a pivotal role in their growth and development both in utero and postpartum. When evaluating your diet and supplement regimen, it’s important to make sure three specific nutrients aren’t missed in your prenatal care: folic acid, DHA and vitamin D.

Folic Acid
Folic acid is a member of the B complex of vitamins and is a form of vitamin B9 found in supplements and fortified foods. All of the B vitamins are considered water soluble, which means the body doesn’t store them for later use, making proper diet and nutrition essential to get your daily requirement of folic acid.

Found naturally in foods like dark leafy greens, beans, nuts and cereals, folic acid has two major benefits:

  • Helps the body produce healthy, vital new cells
  • Encourages proper development of the brain and spinal column of the fetus, preventing birth defects

If you are trying to become pregnant, you should get a recommended 400 mcg of folic acid per day. Once you become pregnant, that dosage may be increased up to 800 mcg per day, in accordance with your doctor’s recommendation. Folic acid is typically found in prenatal vitamins, but you can add a greater dose if needed.

Known by its full name as Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA is a type of omega-3 essential fatty acid. This fatty acid is found naturally in fatty fish that live in cold water, such as salmon and tuna. These fish are often used to produce fish oil supplements to provide stronger doses of DHA than you would get from just consuming the fish in your daily diet. Most Omega 3 supplements contain DHA and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) another type of Omega 3 essential fatty acid. Pregnancy calls for higher proportions of DHA compared with EPA in order to feed your baby’s growing brain. So make sure you read the label of your DHA prenatal. We particularly like this quality Nordic Naturals.

DHA is important both in utero and during the first six months of your baby’s life for the following reasons:

  • Proper development of the brain, eyes and nervous system
  • Continued support for cognitive and cardiovascular wellness

There is no official  recommended dosage of DHA for a pregnant woman, so it’s best to consult your doctor before adding one of these supplements to your routine. Your baby can get their recommended daily DHA easily from breast milk or you can find it added to infant formula. Following pregnancy, a DHA-containing supplement makes a smart addition to any wellness regimen for its cardiovascular benefits and nourishment of the body’s tissues.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is produced within the body and stored there for later use. While we normally get vitamin D from the sun, supplements provide a stronger dosage and can compensate for the days, weeks or months when being outside for the required amount of time (about 20 minutes) isn’t possible. Vitamin D can also be obtained through the consumption of dairy and cereals that have been fortified with vitamin D as well as eggs and salmon.

The primary benefits of vitamin D are:

  • Development of strong bones as well as the teeth
  • Strengthening of the body’s own defenses, the immune system
  • Cardiovascular support
  • Continued tissue health, including the development of lean muscles

The recommended daily dosage for a pregnant woman is 1,000 IU of vitamin D. To start, take a walk daily when the weather permits and you’re feeling up to it to boost your vitamin D. Adding a supplement to your routine will help ensure you meet the daily recommendation, and one product we’re big fans of is Mom & Baby Pure D 400IU from Hearts and Minds Pure Health, which can help you stay on top of your vitamin D after the baby is born as well. This supplement is made with only pure, naturally derived vitamin D in MCT oil and contains no artificial flavoring, preservatives, or colors or common allergens, so you can feel good about taking it and giving it to your baby.

Your doctor can help you determine the best dosage of each of these nutrients and will monitor your health as well as the baby’s development throughout the pregnancy. Making sure you get adequate folic acid, DHA and vitamin D on a daily basis can help you stay well and give your baby all they need to come into the world with a healthy start!


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