It is a well-known fact that, pregnancy and lactation period is a crucial time for both the mother and baby. A slight variation in the available nutrients can bring about life long troubles.
A deficiency of iron and folic acid can result in insufficient oxygen supply and lead to neural tube defects in the baby. Calcium, Magnesium, Proteins and other nutrients are also required in varying proportions.
But these days, many patients ask for how to go for the supplementation without fearing “over supplementation” or hypervitaminosis. Let us see one by one.
Folic acid ( VIT B9)
Folic acid allows the body to perform many essential functions including nucleotide biosynthesis in cells, DNA synthesis and repair, red blood cell creation, and prevention of anemia. It is well known for its application in the prevention of fetal deformities, Alzheimer’s disease, and several types of cancer.
Good calcium saturation in the mother aids in the formation of strong bone and teeth in the child. The nature gives importance to the child more than the mother, and which is the reason, why many mothers suffers from osteoporosis and other weak bone syndromes later in their life as a huge amount of the calcium reserve in their body was shifted to the child, and now the mother is suffering. So beware of calcium depletion!
As far as calcium source is concerned, MILK is taught as the major source. But, interestingly, there are many other cheaper and richer sources available. The milk we get does contain some calcium but is difficult to be absorbed and is partly utilized by the body.
Iron and Proteins
Iron and proteins go hand in hand, as it is the base substance in the formation of blood, the vital fluid. Depleted levels of both can result in anaemia and low protein malnutrition resulting in underdevelopment and failure to thrive and to fight infections.
How and when to supplement?
The initial and primary technique is to measure the deficiency as there are technologies available to search for the deficiencies, which are simple laboratory tests performed on the mother. Periodical haemoglobin analysis and peripheral blood smear can figure out anaemia, serum protein levels to assess the proteins and other tests like serum folic acid levels, serum ferritin level etc are all done as and when necessary.
It is better to take the supplements along with the foods, either just before a full meal or after. Always drink adequate amount of water to keep hydrated.
Natural vs. Synthetic – Supplements?
This is the final stage where many naturalists and herbalists find it disgusting to ingest the supplements. But the truth is, for human body, vitamins and minerals are identical whether from natural or synthetic source, but the matter is with the ABSORBABILITY FACTOR. Many nutrients are well absorbed if obtained from natural source and is well utilized than from synthetic sources.
As far as pregnancy is considered, it is the only period when the conventional medical science observes supplementation do help prevent diseases! And these women are lucky to take the supplements without negative remarks and at their will. But a few points are to be noted while taking the supplements, especially with calcium and iron and other minerals. Many of them are carried from the gut to the destination by certain chelators. These chelators play a definite role in recognizing the mineral and processing it to form the end molecules they are involved. So if this fails, the unabsorbed mineral simply passes out and circulates in the blood and takes part in unwanted chemical combinations and bio-molecule formations. This is why prolonged calcium intake can cause renal calculi and other dystrophic calcification to form exocytosis and spurs. Unabsorbed iron load causes constipation and skin pigmentation. So if there is scope for getting good quality, indigenously grown, organic fruits and vegetables, depend on them for your nutritional needs, which will be far better.
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