Pregnant and breastfeeding women
During pregnancy and breastfeeding vitamin requirements are higher in general. Particularly during the second half of the pregnancy, substantial amounts of nutrients are transferred from the mother to the fetus. The main problems relate to intake of vitamin B9 (folate) vitamin A, vitamin D, calcium, iron and iodine.
Clinical studies show that the risk of developing neural tube defects and other complications of pregnancy can be significantly reduced by supplementing vitamin B9 (folic acid). Supplements should be taken at least four weeks before conception and maintained throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. For multiple births or frequent pregnancies total depletion of vitamin reserves can only be avoided by targeted vitamin substitution.
Vitamin A plays an important role in the healthy development of the fetus and newborn during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It is crucially involved in the growth and differentiation of a number of cells and tissues like the lungs. Although national nutrition societies recommend a significantly increased intake, they also advise avoiding consumption of vitamin A rich liver and foods containing liver. Therefore a sufficient intake of beta-carotene, as an essential and safe source of vitamin A, is very important.
Large-scale national studies have established vitamin D deficiency in up to 70% of pregnant women. A sufficient intake of vitamin D and calcium is not only important for bone health in mother and child, but can also reduce the risk of complications during birth, especially premature birth and infections.
A lack of iron is almost inevitable in pregnant women. Since the volume of blood increases by 25 to 40 percent during pregnancy and the fetus is also producing red corpuscles, iron requirements are raised. In order to prevent anemia, supplementation with iron is recommended. Iron-deficiency anemia in pregnant women increases the risk of premature birth, low birth weight and anemia of the newborn.
An adequate supply of iodine is especially important during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency not only threatens the health of the mother-to-be (e.g. goiter), but represents a risk to the physical and mental development of the child.