Your body and your baby require different minerals to develop. Some are more critical than others.
With all the talk about folic acid, you might think it’s the only mineral you need to worry about during pregnancy. But your body requires several different minerals to support your growing baby. Here’s a look at some of the most important ones and why they’re so crucial to your well-being—and your little one’s future health.
Top Pregnancy Minerals
Calcium is crucial in the formation of healthy bones and teeth. The mineral also aids in the proper functioning of your heart, muscles and nerves. It also aids in blood coagulation and hormone release, which are disrupted during pregnancy. An expectant mother can get calcium by increasing the intake of dairy products, soy drinks, fortified flours and green leafy vegetables like kale and okra.
Iodine is critical for thyroid function, regulating everything from metabolism to brain development. Iodine deficiency is more common than you’d think; it’s considered one of the leading preventable causes of mental retardation worldwide. Expectant mothers also need iodine for healthy brain development for their unborn child and themselves. Sources of iodine include eggs, dairy products, fish, liver, chicken and seaweed, to mention a few.
Selenium protects cells from damage. This mineral may help decrease problems in pregnancy, such as preeclampsia (a severe condition that can lead to seizures), miscarriage and preterm birth. Selenium plays a crucial role in preventing developmental defects and heart disease later in life.
Manganese helps your bones stay strong and healthy. It also helps keep you from getting anemia by helping your body absorb other essential nutrients like iron and thiamin (vitamin B1). It’s even thought that manganese may be involved in healthy fetal brain development. This mineral further aids in bone formation and helps your body process carbohydrates, amino acids and cholesterol. Whole grains, oysters, almonds, soybeans and other legumes, rice, and leafy greens are high in manganese.
Chromium is essential for maintaining normal blood sugar levels. This is especially important for those with gestational diabetes or prediabetes before pregnancy. Many foods contain chromium, including meats like beef, chicken, fish, grain products, fruits, vegetables and nuts.
This mineral helps maintain fluid balance in cells and tissue throughout the body, including the placenta. It helps strengthen the bones and regulate healthy blood pressure levels—important because high blood pressure during pregnancy can lead to complications later. Magnesium also encourages healthy muscle function and supports proper nerve transmission throughout the body (including between the brain and muscles).
Iron is used by the body to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through your blood to all parts of your body, including the placenta. Iron is also essential for creating new red blood cells that can carry extra oxygen to your baby as they grow. If you don’t have enough iron circulating in your blood, you could develop anemia, leading to preterm delivery or a low-birth-weight baby. Great sources of iron during pregnancy are red meat, beans, dried fruit and fortified breakfast cereals.
Molybdenum is essential for pregnant women because it helps break down proteins in the body. Molybdenum also assists in producing uric acid, which is necessary for good kidney health and helps eliminate toxins from the body. Without enough molybdenum, these toxins can build up and cause health problems for both mother and baby. Molybdenum deficiency is rare, but eating more foods that contain molybdenum, like green leafy vegetables, peas, beans and lentils, will help balance your levels.
Copper is essential for your baby’s red blood cell production and the development of his arteries. He could develop anemia and have a weak circulatory system and low birth weight without copper. It also promotes healthy cell growth and tissue repair, as well as form the bones and connective tissue of the baby. Good sources of copper include leafy greens, beans, nuts and seeds.
Zinc is another crucial mineral needed for a healthy pregnancy. First off, zinc helps keep your immune system strong, which will help fight off the common cold or flu during pregnancy. Secondly, zinc aids in your baby’s growth by helping develop its cells and tissues, including the heart, liver and other vital organs. Lastly, zinc helps control your blood sugar levels during pregnancy, which helps your body better use insulin.
As the body is undergoing a significant transformation, it’s essential to take care of your health. Focusing on your nutrition and meeting your nutritional needs will help you feel at ease, alleviate pregnancy symptoms and ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy and baby.