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Here are the top 5 Nutrients for Mothers-to-Be to Ensure the Foetus is safe and healthy!

The Times of India, New Delhi

Preethi Rahul

What you eat during your pregnancy has a direct impact on the health of your unborn child. Infact, your diet could potentially save your child from a whole host of health complications if you eat right. Here are the top five nutrients that must be a part of your diet if you are a mother to be.

The most important nutrient that helps preventing birth defects is folic acid. A lot of emphasis is laid upon this nutrient right from pre-conception to post-delivery by many gynaecologists. Two common birth defects that can occur during pregnancy are spina bifida and anencephaly. spina bifida is a condition in which the spinal cord does not develop completely or a part of the neural tube remains uncovered, leaving a part of the spinal cord exposed. Anencephaly is a condition in which the cephalic end of the tube is not closed and leads to incomplete brain development. Research shows that 75% of these problems can be overcome by regular intake of folate through the pregnancy.
Food sources:
Lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, canliflower, lentil, beans.


Zine deficiency along with protein in the maternal diet can lead to gastroschisis - a birh defect in which the infant's abdominal wall has a fissure or fear. Zine also has an important role to play in the infant's brain development Deficiency of zinc can even lead to toxaemia or anaemia in the foetus.Thus, during pregnancy women have to make sure that their zinc stores are well built.
Food Sources
Oysters, chicken, whole grains, nuts like almond, walnut, red beans, baked beans, low fat milk.

The B-complex vitamins have a crucial role to play in prevention of congenital heart disease particularly if the maternal diet is rich in saturated fats. Niacin helps lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases the good cholesterol (HDL). Vitamin B-12 also has a role to play in reducing the incidence of spina bifida.
Food Sources:
Low fat dairy, Leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish etc. Vegetarian sources include fortified cereals and juices.

These essential fatty acids are very important for the baby's eye and brain development. Hence they play a very important role in pregnancy. Omega-3-fatty acids will have an added advantage for the mother during pregnancy as they will improve skin tone and reduce the intensity of the stretch marks.
Food Sources
They are found in organ meat, oily fish, nuts and oil seeds. However, intake of excess fish during pregnancy is often restricted due to the risk of toxic metals that can be present in them. Fish oil capsules could be used in that case.

According to research pulished in the New England Journal of Medicine, lodine deficiency in the maternal diet can lead to foetal brain damage. It can cause cretinism which can be of two types-neurologic cretinism and hypothyroid cretinism. This condition is dangerous as it can cause mental deficiency, deaf-mutism, motor rigidity-- or even bypothyroidism.
Food Sources:
Milk and milk products like cheese. Curd; strawberries, Sea vegetables. Vegetables of brassica family like canliflower, cabbage etc can interfere with the iodine uptake due to presence of goitrogens which are de-activated when cooked well.
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