Eating for Two: A Guide to Mother’s Nutrition during Pregnancy – Part 2 – Folate and Iron

Eating for Two: A Guide to Mother's Nutrition during Pregnancy - Part 2 - Folate and Iron

Folate and Iron

Out of all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in our diets, we only know of two whose requirements increase by 50 percent or more during pregnancy: one vitamin and one mineral, folate (also known as folic acid) and iron. Deficiency of either folate or iron can lead to anemia in the mother and in the baby.

Famously, the baby uses folate when forming its neural tube, the ancestor to the brain and spinal cord. To do this, adequate supplies of folate are most important at about 21 to 28 days after fertilization. This is the reason that getting plenty of folate surrounding conception can help prevent birth abnormalities called neural tube defects. Women who eat plenty of folate-rich foods can store folate supplies for 2 or 3 months.

What Dad Eats Counts, Too

Dad’s diet, like Mom’s, may help babies before they are even born! Researchers have found that men who take in enough folate may make their offspring less susceptible to later cancer, according to a study published in the February 2001 Fertility and Sterility. For years, women have been encouraged to get enough folate to help prevent birth defects. Now, folate appears to encourage strong, healthy sperm that produce healthier kids. This breakthrough suggests that other choices in Dad’s life not yet studied may also play a role in the strength and vitality of his sperm and the subsequent health of his children.

Read More from: Eating for Two: A Guide to Mother’s Nutrition during Pregnancy

Eating for Two: Part 1 – Pregnancy A Special Time
Eating for Two: Part 2 – Folate and Iron
Eating for Two: Part 3 – How Much Folate Do You Need?
Eating for Two: Part 4 – The Gift of Iron
Eating for Two: Part 5 – Vitamin B6 and Iodine
Eating for Two Part 6 – Zinc
Eating for Two: Part 7 – Niacin, Riboflavin, Thiamin, Pantothenic Acid, and Omega-3
Eating for Two: Part 8 – Not Found in Most Prenatal Vitamins!
Eating for Two: Part 9 – Calcium!?
Eating for Two: Part 10 – Calories
Eating for Two: Part 11 – Liver
Eating for Two: Part 12 – Chocolate
Eating for Two: Part 13 – Eating for the Future

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.

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