Vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in pregnancy

From the moment of conception, you and your baby need a well-balanced diet, including 13 essential vitamins, both the fat-soluble and water-soluble types. Here's a rundown on those important vitamins and their best dietary sources.

A vitamin-rich diet

The good news is that many of the foods you probably are already enjoying are excellent sources of vitamins. By including an ample supply of fruits and vegetables, a variety of animal products, and an assortment of whole grain breads and fortified cereals in your diet, you're sure to have the bases covered. Prenatal vitamins are a good insurance policy, but shouldn't replace a vitamin-rich diet.

Vitamin A

Mother: Lactation, Placental Membranes, Hormones
Baby: RBC, Fetal growth, visual, hair, skin, mucous membranes ,protects against infections
Sources: Milk, butter, eggs, liver, fish, green fruit and vegetables
Daily Recommendations: 770 micrograms

Vitamin B

Mother: Lactation, metabolism of fats, sugar, and protein
Baby: Nerve function, heart and palate development
Sources: Green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, seeds
Daily Recommendations:
Thiamin (B1) 1.4 milligrams
Riboflavin (B2) 1.4 milligrams
Niacin (B3) 18 milligrams
B6 1.9 milligrams
B12 2.6 micrograms

Vitamin C

Mother: Connective tissue, fights viruses, absorb iron
Baby: Oxygen distribution, immune system, teeth
Sources: Melon, citrus, berries, carrots, peas, tomatoes
Daily Recommendations: 85 milligrams

Vitamin D

Mother: Teeth, calcium and phosphorus absorption
Baby: Hardens bones, skull development
Sources: Fish, organic meats, eggs, sunlight on the skin.
Daily Recommendations: 5 micrograms

Vitamin E

Mother: Healing post birth, fights stretch marks and anemia
Baby: Blood cell formation, heart, fights jaundice
Sources: Wheat germ, nuts, avocado, green leafy vegetables, eggs
Daily Recommendations: 15 milligrams

Vitamin K

Mother: Good blood clotting
Baby: Protects against hemorrhage
Sources: Cauliflower, eggs, green leafy vegetables
Daily Recommendations: 90 micrograms

Vitamin F

Mother: Absorption of vitamins, promotes healthy skin
Baby: Kidney and brain development, growth, hormones
Sources: Fatty fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables

Calcium

Mother: Healthy bones and teeth, nerves/muscles
Baby: Healthy bone and teeth formation
Sources: Cheese, milk, shellfish, Brazil nuts, green vegetables
Daily Recommendations: 1000 milligrams

Iron

Mother: RBC, respiratory functions, fights fatigue
Baby: Blood cells and bone growth
Sources: Parsley, eggs, meat, almonds, apricots, vegetables
Daily Recommendations: 27 milligrams
For Anemia: 60-120 milligrams

Magnesium

Mother: Energy, muscles, labor contractions
Baby: Heart development, nervous and skeletal systems
Sources: Cashew/brazil nuts, whole grains, seafood
Daily Recommendations: 350 milligrams

Potassium

Mother: Fluid balance, regulation of acidity
Baby: Fluid balance, regulation of acidity
Sources: Lean meats, dried fruits, vegetables, sunflower seeds

Folic Acid

Mother: DNA and RNA synthesis, RBC, bone marrow, antibodies
Baby: Bone marrow, spine formation, cell division
Sources: Dark leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, milk
Daily Recmmendations: 600 micrograms

Calories

Provide energy for tissue building and increased metabolic requirements
Daily Recommendations: 2,200 ( 1st trimester) 2,500 2nd and 3rd trimesters

Water

Carry nutrients to cells and carry waste products away, Provide fluid for increased blood, tissue and amniotic fluid volume, Help regulate body temperature, Aid digestion
Daily Recommendations: 8+ cups

Protein

Builds and repairs tissues, Helps build blood, amniotic fluid, and placenta, Helps form antibodies
Daily Recommendations: 60 grams

Fatty Acids

Mother: Stabilizes mood, helps with memory
Baby: To promote fetal visual and neural development
Sources: Nordic Naturals ProDHA - 2 capsules/day

Vitamin A

There is a risk of vitamin A overdose, but the risk is generally overstated. Women likely to become pregnant should exercise caution taking high doses of vitamin A or eating liver (a 3-ounce serving provides 30,000 IU), but there is no need for worry with beta-carotene.
It is also worthwhile being watchful of symptoms of vitamin A overdose, including chronic headache, vomiting, loss of hair, dryness of the mucous membranes, and liver damage. But according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, vitamin A toxicity generally doesn't occur unless someone consumes more than 1,000,000 IU in a two- to three-week period. (Committee on infectious diseases, American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrics, May 1993, 91;1014-1015)