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How to take iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin supplements during pregnancy

Proper nutrition during pregnancy plays a vital role in the growth of mother and fetus. The growth and development of the fetus is a very quick process. The baby needs to live in the mother's body for almost 270 days. The birth weight of the baby is nearly 1 billion times of the fertilized egg. Therefore, the nutritional status of pregnant mother will directly affect the weight, length and brain development of the fetus.


Many nutrients requirements of human body are directly fulfilled by the diet. In order to maintain a balanced nutrient intake, it is recommended to eat more than 30 food ingredients per day . Due to many reasons such as busy work, if the nutrients demand dosent fulfills then it is necessary to take supplements during pregnancy.

From preparing for pregnancy to pregnancy and before giving birth, what nutritional intake should be paid attention to?


1. Iron


Supplementary period: Whole pregnancy

Recommended food: Lean meat, animal liver and blood, eggs, soy products, dark vegetables, etc.

The absorption and utilization of iron in animal foods is three times that of plant foods. Therefore, if you want to supplement iron, animal foods rich in iron are generally recommended.

Iron is required to process hemoglobin in the body. Anemia during pregnancy will directly affect health of mother and fetus.

After pregnancy, the blood volume in the body will increase by about 50% than usual, which is more likely to cause iron-deficiency anemia; at the same time, it will affect the production of dopamine D2 receptors in the brain, and will have an irreversible impact on the intellectual development of the fetus and newborn. 

Severe anemia can even cause coagulation disorders and hemorrhage during childbirth, so you need to pay attention to iron intake throughout pregnancy.


The recommended intake of iron is 20 mg/day in the early pregnancy, 24 mg/day in the second trimester and lactation, 29 mg/day in the late pregnancy, and the maximum tolerable intake is 42 mg/day. 


2. Folic acid


Supplementary period: During pregnancy or early pregnancy

Recommended food: Animal liver, followed by green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, yeast, eggs, etc.


What is folic acid?

Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that helps in metabolism of amino acids and nucleotides in the body. It is an essential nutrient for cell proliferation, tissue growth and body development. The first 4 weeks of pregnancy is an important period for the differentiation and formation of the fetal neural tube. During this period, folic acid deficiency can increase the risk of neural tube malformation and premature delivery.


Although you can get folic acid through animal liver, dark green vegetables and beans that are rich in folic acid. However, folic acid supplements can be better absorbed by the body than folic acid in food. 

Therefore, the "Dietary Guidelines" recommend that 400μg of folic acid should be supplemented daily at the latest 3 months before pregnancy, and increase to 600μg/day in the first trimester. 

But in fact, the clinically recommended intake can reach 800-1000μg/day, and the maximum tolerable intake is 1000μg/day. 


3. Calcium


Supplementary period: Middle and late pregnancy

Recommended food: Milk, dairy products; beans and soy products; seafood; eggs; certain vegetables; some fruits and dried fruits, etc.

Calcium deficiency during pregnancy may lead to osteoporosis of the mother, increases the chances of rickets and hypertension during pregnancy, and also affect the development of the baby's bones and teeth. 

The fetus grows rapidly after 28 weeks in the mother's body. Calcium is an important part of fetal bone development, so the calcium requirement in the late pregnancy also increases.


The recommended intake for the first trimester is 800mg/day, the recommended intake for the middle and late pregnancy and lactation is 1000mg/day, and the maximum tolerable intake is 2000mg/day. 

Too much calcium intake may cause constipation in pregnant women, and may also affect the absorption of phosphorus and other nutrients.


4. Zinc


Supplementary period: During pregnancy or early pregnancy

Recommended food: oysters, animal liver, meat, fish, egg yolks, milk, shrimp skin, seaweed, sesame, mushrooms, etc.

Zinc is an essential part of DNA polymerase that regulates DNA replication, translation, and transcription. Zinc deficiency during pregnancy will increase the risk of fetal nervous system malformations, premature delivery or miscarriage, special attention should be paid to zinc during pregnancy and early pregnancy Intake. 


Generally recommended 9.5mg/day, if it is breastfeeding, the recommended intake is 12mg/day, and the generally recommended maximum tolerable intake is 40mg/day.


5. Iodine


Supplementary period: During pregnancy or early pregnancy

Recommended food: a variety of seafood, such as kelp, seaweed, sea cabbage, hair vegetable, hairtail, scallops, sea cucumber, jellyfish, lobster, etc., as well as eggs, milk, meat and freshwater fish.

Women who lack iodine before pregnancy will increase the risk of cretinism in their babies in the future. You can consume iodized salt in moderation before pregnancy. Heavy salted diet will increase the workload on kidneys Therefore, As compared to supplements, you only need to eat some seafood every week and pay attention to your diet. Seafood contains more iodine, such as kelp, seaweed, fish, shrimp, shellfish, etc. are all good choices.


In addition, during the pregnancy preparation period, Prospective fathers should eat some seafood to strengthen the sperm and increase their activity. Seafoods are rich in minerals and trace elements, especially zinc and selenium, which help maintain the normal structure and function of the male reproductive system. The high-quality protein contained in seafood is also an important raw material for sperm production.


6. Vitamin A


Supplementary period: Early pregnancy

Recommended food: orange and green fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, spinach, leeks, rape, etc.

If the doctor does not specifically advice it, there is no need to take extra vitamin A supplements.


Lack of vitamin A may cause impaired development of the fetal nervous system and even deformities. If you are not a picky eater then you should eat carrots, citrus, animal liver etc.

Recommended intake of vitamin A in the first trimester is 700μg/day, and in the middle and late stages it increases to 770μg/day, and the maximum tolerable dose (UL) is 3000μg/day .


7. Vitamin C


Supplementary period: Whole pregnancy, especially in the middle and late stages.

Recommended food: Fresh vegetables and fruits, such as green peppers, bell peppers, kiwi, spinach, tomatoes, oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, etc.

Vitamin C promots the absorption of iron, and at the same time it improves the acuity of the fetal baby's brain function.

Lack of vitamin c may cause Scurvy, Therefore, during the entire pregnancy, especially in the middle and late stages, pay special attention to the intake of vitamin C.


Generally, the recommended intake in the first trimester is 100mg/day, In the middle and late pregnancy 105mg/day, and during lactation  150mg/day.

Since vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, its maximum tolerable intake is very high (2000mg/day), and generally there is no need to worry about it. However, it is best not to exceed 500mg/day. 


8. Vitamin D


Supplementary period: Middle and late pregnancy

Recommended food: Marine fish, animal liver, eggs, milk, nuts, etc. (Sun rays are important for the synthesis of vitamin D in the human skin, so expectant mothers should go for a short walk during daytime)

Vitamin D promots the absorption of calcium. Lack of Vitamin D may affect fetal bone development and may even cause congenital rickets. Therefore, if you want to supplement calcium, you should do both calcium and vitamin D supplementation. 

In the middle and late stages of pregnancy, as calcium intake increases, you should also pay attention to vitamin D supplementation.


The recommended intake of vitamin D during pregnancy and lactation is 10μg/day, and the maximum tolerable intake is 50μg/day.


9. Vitamin K


Supplementary period: Late pregnancy, especially 1 month before the expected delivery date.

Recommended food: Cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, alfalfa, sauerkraut, etc.

Vitamin K is also known as "hemostasis hero". Impaired absorption of Vitamin K may cause low levels of prothrombin in blood, which may lead to coagulation disorders and may cause neonatal gastrointestinal hemorrhage. 

Therefore, pregnant mothers one month before the expected delivery date, Must pay attention to eating more foods rich in vitamin K everyday.


Generally, the recommended intake of vitamin K during pregnancy is 80μg/day and 85μg/day during lactation. Currently, there is no reasonable quantitative value for the maximum allowable intake of vitamin K. 


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