“Vitamin A supports our reproductive organs and the developing baby. For men, it assists in the development of healthy sperm and for women it acts like a hormone during pregnancy, regulating the cell growth and development of her new baby.” Vitamins – Birth.com.au
Beta carotene is converted by the human body into vitamin A and unused amounts are stored in the liver. The level of nutrients, including vitamin A, in newborns is largely dependent on the levels of nutrients the mother ingested during pregnancy. Vitamin A is important to the growth and motor development of infants and the lack thereof may contribute to infant mortality, especially from infectious disease, in developing nations.
Beta carotene is not teratogenic and is recommended over vitamin A which has the possibility of teratogenicity. Teratogenesis is anything that is potentially harmful to a developing fetus. It is also now believed that various micro nutrients affect the way in which other micro nutrients are utilized by the body. This is sometimes not a desirable result but in the case of iron ,which is frequently supplemented during pregnancy, there seems to be a positive result.
The only form of vitamin A you should be taking while pregnant is beta carotene. High levels of synthetic vitamin A (and certain acne medications such as Accutane) during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy can be toxic to a fetus and can cause a number of birth defects. Play it safe with a food based prenatal vitamin or choose fruits and vegetables with high vitamin A content.
Supplementation of vitamin A together with supplementation of iron seems to preclude the incidence of anemia better than when only iron is used. Some researchers have also concluded that vitamin A deficiency is less common when both vitamin A and zinc are supplemented simultaneously. It is also now believed that supplementation of beta carotene during pregnancy will result in higher retinol levels in breast milk after delivery.
It is also believed that carotenoid levels found in foods may not now be as high as once thought. For instance, the tropical diet may be inherently low in beta carotene. It does seem to be the case, however, that increasing consumption of a variety of fruits and vegetables increases a person’s over-all nutrient levels. The standard recommendation is to eat five one-half-cup servings of fruits and vegetables per day for optimal health.
Unfortunately, very few westerners now eat the way that the experts suggest. When the average American is honest with himself, he soon admits to avoiding some meals entirely and using empty calories to an excessive degree. Although flour is enriched by regulation, it is often omitted from the diet. Persons with low carb diets, in particular, will probably not benefit from the enriched breads that others consume.
Pregnant women who have been advised above all other concerns to keep their weight gain to an acceptable level may turn to diets that do not contain the necessary nutrient levels. The use of prescription prenatal vitamins is commonly recommended by obstetricians. Nothing new should be added to the diet during pregnancy without consultation with an obstetrician. Anything potentially harmful that is currently being used by pregnant women may need to be discontinued upon an obstetrician’s advise.
The time to think about the nutritional health of pregnant women and their developing babies is before becoming pregnant. Improving over-all health and addressing existing health concerns before pregnancy, while still in the process of preconception planning, is the best way to ensure that things go as well as possible during pregnancy.
A healthy start in life is the best advantage. It is worth the extra effort.
“Beta-carotene can be found in concentrated amounts in a variety of foods including sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens, cilantro, fresh thyme, cantaloupe, romaine lettuce and broccoli.” whfoods.com
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Author Vincent Platania represents the Stanley Home Products. Stanley Home Products has been in business since 1936, and offers high quality home and personal care products to keep your home and your body clean. Visit www.stanley-home-products.com
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