Sunday, March 7, 2010

Nutrition Corner: Minerals

We've covered vitamins so let's move on to minerals now. During pregnancy, minerals are typically obtained in adequate numbers between dietary intake and your prenatal vitamin. Let's look at the minerals in detail...


During pregnancy, iron is needed for the manufacture of hemoglobin in both mom and baby's red blood cells (RBCs). The baby will draw iron from momma, so mom needs to keep her iron levels up. Iron is better absorbed from dietary sources than from supplements. The RDA is 30mg. Most prenatal vitamins contain around 27-35mg. But again, iron is better absorbed by the body if it comes from dietary sources. So, try eating foods such as lean or organ meats, enriched grains, green leafy veggies or dried fruits, and egg yolks.


This mineral is important for bones, muscles, and regulatory functions in cells and blood. Again, the baby will draw calcium from momma to help with skeletal growth. Pregnant women need about 1200mg of calcium a day. Good food sources for calcium include milk, cheese, whole grains, leafy veggies, and egg yolks. Tip: if you find yourself having frequent 'charley horses', or leg cramps, try getting more calcium in the form of a supplement or dietary. This usually takes care of those pesky leg cramps!


Phosphorus works closely with calcium, with the body maintaining a careful ratio in the blood. Our diets in the US are typically very high in this mineral. Typically foods that are high in phosphorus contain only small amounts of calcium. The RDA is 1200mg during pregnancy. Foods high in phorphorus include lean meats, milk, cheese, processed meats, snack foods, and carbonated beverages. No supplementation is needed on this one!


Much of this mineral is stored in the bones, similar to calcium and phosphorus. Active magnesium is found in the nerve and muscular cells. This mineral can also be taken as a supplement to decrease leg cramps, however does not cause any change in blood levels of the mineral. The RDA is 320mg. Dietary sources include green veggies, nuts, wheat bran, soybeans, and wheat germ.


Iodine is important for preventing many mental deficiencies in the developing baby's brain. The RDA is 22o micrograms. The source is idodized salt and seafood. It is rare to have a deficiency in this mineral in the US.


This mineral is a component of insulin so has an active role in metabolism. The zinc RDA is 15mg. Zinc supplements are not recommended at this time due to lack of evidence that shows a benefit. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, shellfish, Brewer's yeast, wheat germ, wheat bran, pine nuts, bran cereals, and pecan nuts. Other sources that also have zinc include liver, cashew nuts, fish, eggs, and parmesan cheese.


This trace mineral is typically ingested in adequate amounts from food sources so supplementatation is not necessary. The mineral plays a role in the formation of bones and cells. The RDA is 2.6mg. Food sources include:

1 cup raisin bran cereal: 1.9 mg
1 cup cooked brown rice: 1.8 mg
1 cup cooked oatmeal: 1.3 mg
1 ounce (19 halves) pecans: 1.3 mg
1 ounce English walnuts (14 halves): 1.0 mg
1/2 cup pineapple chunks: 0.9 mg
1/2 cup boiled spinach: 0.9 mg
1/2 cup black beans: 0.4 mg
1 ounce (23 whole kernels) almonds: 0.6 mg
1 slice whole wheat bread: 0.6 mg1 cup black tea: 0.5 mg
1/2 cup raspberries: 0.4 mg
1/2 cup sliced strawberries: 0.3 mg

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