Essential Vitamins and Minerals

 

Your own health and that of your developing baby relies on a regular supply of vitamins and minerals, most of which have to be obtained from the food you eat. The chart below is a guide to the best sources. Vitamins and minerals tend to break down during cooking and processing so choose food that is as fresh as possible.

BEST SOURCES

BENEFITS

VITAMIN A

orange fruit and vegetables – peaches, melons, mangoes, apricots, carrots and peppers; green vegetables; egg yolk; oily fish such as herring

Antioxidant properties; important for healthy eyes, hair, skin and bones; helps fight infections; can be toxic in excess (do not take supplements or eat offal)

B VITAMINS

Poultry, pork, beef and lamb; cod; dairy products; eggs; brewer’s yeast; green vegetables, such as brussels sprouts and cabbage; nuts, especially pecan nuts, peanuts and walnuts; fortified cereals; wholemeal bread and pasta; oranges; mangos; bananas, avocados; figs; sesame seeds

Helps energy production and protein release from food; maintains healthy skin, hair and nails; essential for nervous and brain function; assists in the production of antibodies to fight infection and red oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood (B12 supplements may be needed if you don’t eat meat or dairy food)

FOLIC ACID

Green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach and green beans; fortified cereals, pulses (peas and chick peas) and yeast extract such as Marmite

Helps prevent neural tube defects in the fetus; aids red blood cell formation and protein break down in the body (400 mcg supplement recommended daily)

VITAMIN C

Kiwi fruit, citrus fruit, sweet peppers, blackcurrants, potatoes (especially the skins) and tomatoes

Assits growth and repair of tissues (skin, teeth and bones); aids absorption; antioxidant properties

VITAMIN D

Eggs; oily fish such as herring, salmon and sardines; butter; margarine; cheese; also provided through exposure to natural light

Enhances calcium absorption; increases the rate of mineral deposits in the bones; can be toxic if taken in excess (do not take supplements)

VITAMIN E

Eggs; nuts, such as hazelnuts, pine nuts and almonds; sunflower seeds; green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach; avocado; vegetable oils

Maintains healthy skin, nerves, muscles, red blood cells, and heart; important antioxidant – protects against free radicals, which can damage body tissues

IRON

Red meat; eggs; apricots, raisins and prunes; tinned sardines, crab and tuna in oil; fortified cereals; sesame seeds (offal such as liver and kidneys is rich in iron but should be avoided in pregnancy)

Essential for oxygen-carrying haemoglobin production in red blood cells of mother and fetus; builds and maintains muscles

CALCIUM

Dairy products; eggs; small bony fish such as sardines; soya products; most nuts; fortified cereals; leafy green vegetables, especially broccoli

Essential for healthy bones, teeth and muscles in mother and fetus; also helps with conduction of nerve impulses

ZINC

Beef; seafood; nuts; onions; sweetcorn; bananas; wholegrain foods (iron-rich foods block absorption)

Necessary for growth and energy; aids healing of wounds; supports the immune system