While the importance of folic acid before conception and during the first trimester are well established, new data from Ireland indicates that maintaining supplementation beyond the first trimester may lead to cognitive performance benefits for the child.
Proper nutrition before conception and during pregnancy is vital both for the health of the mother and her developing child. Inadequate nourishment in any phase of pregnancy will affect the organ systems, birth weight, and even the survival of the baby. The way that the organs develop during pregnancy can also determine how their growth continues after the baby’s birth.
In addition to the caloric demands, pregnancy also increases the demand for specific nutrients which may not be met through diet alone. Micronutrients such as vitamin C, lysine, proline, folic acid, and the B group of vitamins, among others, are essential for a healthy baby and delivery, and for preventing complications during pregnancy.
Calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, in synergy with vitamins C and D, aid the development of the baby’s bones and teeth, support normal blood pressure in the mother, and prevent muscle cramps and preterm delivery. Requirements for these minerals increase more than 50 percent during pregnancy.