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    Regular check-ups, a healthy and balanced diet, plenty of rest, and taking supplements may help in ensuring an easy-breezy nine months. Ramon Emilio Roces, M.D., obstetrician-gynecologist, says, “Most Filipino obstetricians recommend taking vitamin supplements since there is a need for additional doses of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy. This is more easily supplied by supplements than by calculating specific increases in diet.”

    Folic acid can help reduce the risk of neural tube defects like spina bifida, cleft lip, and some heart abnormalities in fetuses. The spine is formed very soon after conception, even before most women realize they are pregnant. Thus, it is important that all women of childbearing age get the recommended daily amount of folic acid (400 micrograms).

    Vitamin B complex (B1, B6 and B12) are essential for the baby’s brain and central nervous system development. These help reduce morning sickness, leg cramps, and numbness in the hands and fingers. A deficiency in Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) can put your baby at risk of beriberi which can damage his heart and lungs. Foods that contain Thiamin include whole grain foods, wheat germ, and eggs.

    Vitamin B6 (Pyrioxine) helps in the development of your baby’s brain and nervous system. It has also been noted to reduce morning sickness. Vitamin B6 can be found in bananas, watermelon, and chicken breast.

    Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) is required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological functions, and DNA synthesis. It is found in fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and milk products. It is generally not present in vegetables, but fortified breakfast cereals are a readily available source of vitamin B12 with high bioavailability for vegetarians.

    Calcium. Your need for this mineral will increase greatly during pregnancy. It is essential for the development of your baby’s bones and has also been found to lower the mother’s blood pressure. Calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis later in life and reduce the strength of your baby’s bones. Calcium is found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and in spinach, tofu and broccoli.

    Iron is doubly important for pregnant women. Dr. Nuñez-Roces explains, “The baby will take from the mother’s iron stores. A lack of iron can put the mother’s heart at risk and also endanger her life if she loses a lot of blood during delivery. Iron is needed to form the baby’s red blood cells.

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    It is usually prescribed after the first trimester, after the common symptoms of nausea and vomiting have disappeared as the iron can cause additional abdominal discomfort. It is recommended that pregnant women take iron supplements with orange juice or fruit juice because Vitamin C helps in its absorption. Iron can be found in red meat, vegetables, grains, and fortified cereals.   

    Vitamin E helps in the development of baby’s muscles and red blood. A lack of Vitamin E has been linked to low birthweight. However, too much of this vitamin has been associated with stillbirth. It is therefore vital to ask for your doctor’s advice before considering Vitamin E supplementation. You can find Vitamin E in vegetable oil, nuts, and fortified cereals.

    Zinc is a highly important mineral for cell growth in your unborn baby. It promotes the production of enzymes such as insulin. Zinc can be found in red meats, poultry, beans, grains and dairy products.

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