images from telegraph .co.uk

We conclude our two part series on the four essential vitamins for mother and child during pregnancy, we round up with the vitamins Iron and Zinc.

IRON

Iron is an important component in the formation of red blood cells which in turn enhances the reproduction of the baby and placenta during pregnancy. Iron is also vital for the hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to other cells and enables both mother and fetus to form new red blood cells; it also helps in the maintenance of a healthy and functional immune system.Due to rising blood levels in the woman during pregnancy, iron is therefore essential for continuous blood reproduction.

Low levels of iron in the body of the woman can lead to what is known as ‘Anemia’ which can be fatal for mother and child if undetected. A lowered immune system can spell danger making the woman susceptible to all kinds of infections and ailments. If detected early, a doctor may prescribe an iron supplement or an adjustment in diet.
The symptoms of Anaemia could include tiredness, dizzy spells, headaches which can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, and reduced fetal organ.Foods rich in iron include red meat, fish, poultry and eggs, whole grain, cereals, vegetables and beans.

ZINC

During pregnancy the body is constantly working overtime to ensure mother and fetus are sustained. Zinc is useful in the body in the reproduction of cells and as it forms an essential part of enzymes and plays an important role in cell multiplication and metabolism which is the building block of any human life , your DNA. It also aids in the fast healing of wounds,improves focus and brain function.The availability of zinc in the body is dependent on a steady source from the diet.

In a World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2013, it was estimated that over 80% of pregnant women worldwide have inadequate zinc intake, consuming an average 9.6 mg zinc per day, well below the recommended minimum daily levels for the last two trimesters of pregnancy in settings of low zinc bio availability.

Zinc deficiency may cause serious outcomes such as low birth weight impaired sense of smell or taste, a loss of appetite, poor development in children, and a lower immunity to infections, it has also been linked to miscarriage and problems during labor . Some rich sources of zinc found in foods include red meat, beans, dairy products and nuts.

IMAGE CREDIT: TELEGRAPH UK