THE MAGIC BUL­LETS... FO­LATE, IRON AND OMEGA 3S

Your Pregnancy - - Pregnancy Files -

Sup­ple­men­ta­tion is al­ways a good idea dur­ing preg­nancy and should in­clude folic acid, io­dine, vi­ta­min D and iron to en­sure ad­e­quate in­take. In the third trimester, some women may need to add ex­tra iron or vi­ta­min B12, and a cal­cium sup­ple­ment. Speak to your med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner about your sup­ple­ment needs. Folic acid: Fo­late is a B vi­ta­min (B9) found in leafy green veg­eta­bles such as as­para­gus and broc­coli, liver and kid­ney, nuts, lentils and seeds, and or­anges. It’s crit­i­cally im­por­tant very early in preg­nancy (in the first 28 days), when the brain and spine of the baby are de­vel­op­ing. All the B vi­ta­mins are wa­ter-sol­u­ble, which means your body doesn’t store them – you have to top up your B9 lev­els ev­ery day. In South Africa, all bread and maize is for­ti­fied with vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, in­clud­ing folic acid, which is the syn­thetic form of fo­late. Dr Soha Said, a con­sul­tant ob­ste­tri­cian at Cor­niche Hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emi­rates, ad­vises women to be­gin tak­ing folic acid a month be­fore they con­ceive and to con­tinue for the first three months of preg­nancy. Iron: “If you’re at high risk of iron de­fi­ciency, take sup­ple­men­ta­tion from around 16 weeks of preg­nancy, when the de­mands of the foe­tus for iron start to in­crease,” says Dr Kalian. Omega 3s: Dr Deb­o­rah Pu­fal, a se­nior lec­turer in nu­tri­tion at Hud­der­s­field Univer­sity in the UK, notes that a woman’s diet dur­ing preg­nancy is crit­i­cal for the baby’s brain de­vel­op­ment. For this rea­son, she says, it’s im­por­tant that you get enough omega 3 fatty acids, which are involved in brain de­vel­op­ment. Fish oils are the best and most eas­ily avail­able source, but be­cause so many ma­rine fish have high lev­els of con­tam­i­nants, cur­rent ad­vice is that we should eat no more than two to three por­tions a week. Al­ter­na­tives are soya and lin­seed oils, wal­nuts and en­riched eggs.

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