Vitamin and Mineral Requirements

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Iron is the only recommended nutrient for which requirements cannot be reasonably met by diet alone during pregnancy. Thirty milligrams of ferrous iron is recommended, and iron should be taken on an empty stomach. When more than 30 mg of iron is given to treat anemia, it is suggested to also take approximately 15 mg of zinc and 2 mg of copper, since iron interferes with absorption and utilization of these materials.

According to some studies, caffeine decreases the availability of certain nutrients, such as calcium, zinc, and iron. Current recommendations, therefore, include limiting the consumption of caffeinated containing products.

Calcium supplementation may be suggested if the average daily intake of calcium is less than 600 mg. Calcium intake is of particular concern among pregnant women under the age of twenty-five, since bone mineral density is still increasing in these women. Calcium supplements, if recommended, should be taken with meals. Additionally, vitamin D may be necessary if sunlight exposure is minimal. For vegetarians, the current recommendations also include a daily supplement of 2 mg of Vitamin B12.

For women who don't ordinarily consume an adequate diet, or for those in high-risk categories (such as those carrying twins, heavy smokers, and drug abusers) a prenatal vitamin supplement is recommended, beginning in the second trimester. The supplement should contain the following: iron (30 mg); zinc (15 mg); copper (2 mg); calcium (250 mg); vitamin B6 (62 mg); folate (300 mg); vitamin C (50 mg); vitamin D (5 mg).

iron: nutrient needed for red blood cell formation anemia: low level of red blood cells in the blood zinc: mineral necessary for many enzyme processes absorption: uptake by the digestive tract calcium: mineral essential for bones and teeth vitamin D: nutrient needed for calcium uptake and therefore proper bone formation folate: one of the B vitamins, also called folic acid

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