6 key nutrients to eat when you’re trying to conceive
Following a healthy pre-pregnancy diet can boost your chances of getting pregnant as well as prevent pregnancy-related complications. Here are some key nutrients you should eat before and during pregnancy.
If you’re trying to conceive, it’s time to change your eating habits. Experts say following a healthy diet can boost your fertility, help transition to a smoother pregnancy and lower risk of pregnancy-related complications and birth defects. Your pre-pregnancy diet should include foods that are rich in nutrients like folic acid/folate, calcium, iodine, iron, fatty acids, etc. According to researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, eating more vegetables prior to pregnancy may help lower your risk of preterm birth. Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and green beans are good sources of antioxidants, which play a significant role in reducing the risk of adverse birth outcomes, they said in their study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. If you’re trying to get pregnant, make sure to include these key nutrients in your diet.
Folic acid (or folate) is one of the most important nutrients you should take while trying to conceive as well as during your pregnancy. This B vitamin (B9) naturally occurs in certain foods, like dark green vegetables, legumes and enriched grains. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid at least one month before getting pregnant. Folic acid plays a key role in forming healthy cells, and also helps prevent birth defects like spina bifida and anencephaly. Eating foods rich in folate may not be enough to meet the recommended amount. So, doctors may suggest taking a prenatal vitamin that has 400 to 600 mcg of folic acid.
Calcium is important to keep your reproductive system functioning smoothly, but it can also help you conceive faster. In addition, you need to stock up some calcium before you become pregnant for your baby’s bone health. If your body lacks calcium during pregnancy, the calcium from your bones will be used to supply to the developing foetus, which might increase your risk of osteoporosis (brittle bones) in the future. Women who trying to conceive as well as expecting moms should try to get about 1,000 mg of calcium each day. Calcium can be found from foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and vegetables like Kale and broccoli.
If you have adequate iron stores, then you’re less likely to have trouble getting pregnant. Iron helps transport oxygen throughout the body, and it is also very important for delivering oxygen to baby. Too little iron could increase risk of preterm birth or your baby being born underweight. According to experts, women need about 18 mg of iron per day. Fortified breakfast cereals, lean meats, and spinach are good natural sources of iron.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Include more foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your pre-pregnancy diet. This nutrient helps regulate key ovulation-inducing hormones and improve circulation to the reproductive organs. If you’re taking prenatal vitamins, they may likely contain omega 3s. But you can also get this nutrient from whole foods like seafood, grass-fed beef and nuts and seeds.
Your body needs this mineral to produce thyroid hormones that regulate your metabolism. Women who are trying to get pregnant should aim to get 150 mcg of iodine per day. Sources of iodine include dairy products and iodized salt.
Your pre-pregnancy diet should also include slowly digestible carbohydrates like fibre. Increasing your fibre intake by 10 grams day can help boost your fertility levels as well as lower your risk of developing gestational diabetes, say experts. Whole grains, high-fibre cereals, fruit and vegetables, beans and legumes are some good sources of fibre