7 Vitamins and Minerals for a Healthy First Trimester

Are you eating everything your baby needs at this early stage? We’ve prepared a list of vitamins and minerals that are essential for your health and for your baby’s development during the first trimester of pregnancy.

1. Folate

Folate, or folic acid, is of critical importance in stages like pregnancy or infancy, due to its significant aid to rapid cell division and cell growth. Folic acid is recommended during the preconception period – just before and after the moment of conception – as well as during the first trimester. Also known as Vitamin M or Vitamin B9, folate intake is important for preventing congenital malformations and is required in the formation of all bodily cells for both you and your baby.
Rich sources are leafy vegetables such as spinach, lettuce, asparagus and turnip greens. Other folate-rich foods are bananas, avocado, broccoli and fortified grain products.

2. Vitamin D

Intake of Vitamin D increases the bioavailability of calcium. Also called the „sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D can be synthesized by the human body when exposed to sunlight, so enjoy sunny afternoons outdoors as often as possible. Your baby’s spinal cord and bones start developing during the first trimester. It is important to have plenty of Vitamin D during this period, as it helps with the calcification of foetal bones. Foods rich in Vitamin D are fortified milk products, mackerel, button mushrooms and Shiitake mushrooms. Don’t forget sun exposure!

3. Calcium

Calcium is essential in the formation of bones and teeth, as well as for other cellular processes. There is evidence indicating that deficit of maternal calcium can lead to hypertension and pre-eclampsia during pregnancy. Milk, cheese and yoghurt are the most popular sources of calcium. Other calcium-rich foods include: sesame seeds, soy products (especially tofu), sardines, herring, almonds, flax seeds and Brazil nuts.

4. Iron

Iron intake contributes to the increase in maternal blood volume and is crucial for increasing the rate of haemoglobin. Red meat and poultry, lentils, beans, leaf vegetables, tofu and pumpkin seeds are particularly rich in iron. Iron found in meat, however, is absorbed more easily that the iron found in vegetables.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C prevents infections by increasing the immune response and contributes to the absorption of iron in the organism. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, these are the richest natural sources of Vitamin C. Green pepper, parsley, broccoli and kiwi are just a few of the most popular plants that are rich in Vitamin C.

6. Omega-3 (DHA)

DHA Omega-3 supports the normal development of the foetal brain, which already begins in the 5th week of pregnancy. There is also evidence that Omega-3 fatty acids might play an important role in reducing inflammation throughout the body. DHA Omega-3 is commonly found in marine oils. Sardines, salmon and halibut are a tasty and popular source, but you will also find Omega-3 in flax seeds, walnuts, soybeans and grass-fed beef.

7. Zinc

Zinc helps your body shield from infection and from contracting infectious diseases. Some evidence suggests that adequate levels of zinc in the organism help reduce the incidence of prolonged labour. This is especially beneficial since newborns of prolonged labour can be more agitated and cry more than others. Foods which are rich in zinc include beef, lamb, venison, turkey, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts and green peas. It is recommended to consume zinc rich foods such as seed and nuts in their raw form, where possible.

Keep in mind that you can obtain all these vitamins and minerals from eating natural foods, which is always a healthier option than taking supplements. It’s a good idea to listen to your cravings, yet try to eat a large variety of foods in moderate amounts. Don’t forget to spend time in the sunlight and relax.