The development of the brain in an unborn child depends a great deal on the health and nutrition of the pregnant mother. Eating right and getting enough essential vitamins can mean the difference between a healthy, well-developed child and one with birth defects. By exploring the vitamins that are needed for a baby's brain development, mothers and others can make the right health choices for prenatal care.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
In order to ensure that babies develop health brain function, it is necessary to ensure that mothers have sufficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids. The American Pregnancy Association recommends that mothers begin taking supplements up to six months prior to conception. This is especially true for women who have been through multiple pregnancies as their omega-3 levels are likely to be depleted. Fish oil or fatty fishes are the best sources for omega-3s.
Choline is a critical nutrient for prenatal brain development. According to the National Institutes of Health, choline is responsible for cell membrane development and proper nerve cell messaging systems. Women who are deficient in choline have children with fewer blood vessels in the brain at birth, and these children may never catch up to standard levels.
Folic acid is a member of the B vitamin group. It is vital for women who are pregnant to ensure that they have enough folic acid in their diets, or to take supplemental folic acid according to Medline Plus. Without sufficient folic acid, babies may develop serious birth defects of the brain. Foods that have folic acid include leafy green vegetables, fruits, dried beans, enriched breads or cereals and nuts.
According to Science Daily, vitamin D is essential for healthy brain development. Mothers should talk to their doctors about the possibility of a vitamin D deficiency to ensure they get enough during their pregnancy. Vitamin D is available in fatty fish and fortified milk, and the body produces this vitamin as a reaction to exposure to the sun.
- American Pregnancy Association: Attention Mothers and Mothers-To-Be: Consider Omega 3 Supplementation for the Health of Your Baby
- Medline Plus: Folic Acid
- National Institutes of Health: Choline Deficiency May Hinder Fetal Brain Development
- Science Daily: Vitamin D Important in Brain Development and Function