Pregnancy is a time filled with physical and emotional challenges. Your body is working hard creating a whole new life from the nutritional building blocks you’re supplying. Now more than ever, it’s important to try and eat a healthy diet that includes a wide variety of fruit and vegetables to receive good amounts of vitamins and minerals. There are some key nutrients to keep in mind when planning your pregnancy.
Important preconception nutrients for woman
Folic acid is one of the most important vitamins in your preconception plan. It’s recommended that at least 400 micrograms of folic acid be taken daily for at least one month before conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. Folic acid supports a healthy pregnancy and healthy foetal development. Folic acid can be found in vegetables including spinach, asparagus and broccoli, and fruits such as papaya, oranges and strawberries. See Folic Acid Complex
Vitamin B12 is an important cofactor for folic acid metabolism. If vitamin B12 is not present, folic acid cannot function properly regardless of sufficient intake. Vitamin B12 can be found in many animal-based foods. See Activated Sublingual B12
Iodine is an essential trace mineral that plays an important role in supporting healthy growth and development. In Australia, many people do not consume adequate iodine as the iodine content of most foods is low, and can be impacted by soil levels, irrigation and fertilisers. During pregnancy, adequate iodine is necessary to support healthy foetal, brain and central nervous system development. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines recommend that the daily intake of iodine increase from 150 micrograms/day to 220 micrograms/day during pregnancy*
It’s recommended that iodine supplementation start before conception and continue throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding in order to maintain adequate iodine levels. Iodine can be found in foods including fish, eggs and foods containing seaweed such as sushi. See Folic Acid Complex
Overall, nutritional requirements increase during pregnancy and it’s important to ensure your preconception plan includes sourcing foods rich in vitamins and minerals. In conjunction with a healthy diet, multivitamins formulated specifically to support the health of mother and baby during preconception, pregnancy and breastfeeding may help to maintain general health and wellbeing. See Pregnancy Plus 1-2-3
Important preconception nutrients for men
Supporting sperm health of the father-to-be whilst planning to fall pregnant is important too.
Selenium supports the reproductive system in men and helps maintain testosterone production. Selenium supports sperm health including sperm production and motility. Food sources of selenium include seafood, beef, chicken and turkey and dairy products including milk and yoghurt. See Selenium 150 MAX
Zinc supports male reproductive system health. It is important for prostate health and is essential for sperm health and sperm motility. The Australian recommended dietary intake (RDI) for zinc in men aged between 19-70+ years is 14mg daily. The absorption of zinc is significantly affected by the environment in the gastrointestinal tract and other vitamins and minerals, including iron See Ultra Zinc+
*Hynes, K. L., et al., Nutrients, (2019).