Like other vitamins and minerals, adequate vitamin C and zinc are important during your pregnancy, both for your developing baby and for your own health. Consult your doctor before taking vitamin C or zinc supplements, and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully to avoid negative side effects for you and your baby.
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Vitamin C Benefits
Vitamin C provides a number of benefits, including increased immunity, fast tissue repair and wound healing, healthy skin and bone growth. During pregnancy, vitamin C plays an important role in iron absorption, particularly important if you suffer from iron-deficiency anemia. Vitamin C deficiencies in newborns may be linked to impaired mental development, according to BabyCenter.com. Vitamin C also aids in the formation of your baby's bones, cartilage, tendons and skin.
Vitamin C Dosage
Food is the best way to obtain vitamin C, both during pregnancy and when you are not pregnant. Good sources include fruit, fruit juice and vegetables. According to MayoClinic.com, taking vitamin C megadoses during pregnancy is not recommended, since it may contribute to scurvy in newborn babies, as well as preterm birth. The recommended intake for pregnant women age 18 and older is 85 mg per day, or 80 mg for those under 18.
Zinc is the second most important essential trace mineral after iron, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. However, the body only needs a small amount, and serious deficiencies are rare in developed countries. During pregnancy, supplementation may be beneficial in cases of severe deficiency. In a 2001 study by researchers from the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in Bangladesh, low-birth-weight infants whose mothers received zinc supplements during pregnancy had a decreased risk of conditions including acute diarrhea, dysentery and impetigo.
Food is the best way to obtain zinc during pregnancy, and also the safest. Foods that contain zinc include red meat, poultry, cheese, shrimp and legumes. According to Medline Plus, zinc supplements are likely safe during pregnancy, as long as they do not exceed the Recommended Daily Allowance. Women over age 18 should not take more than 40 mg per day, or 35 mg for women under 18. Excessive amounts of zinc may weaken your immune system and raise LDL, or "bad" cholesterol, levels.
- BabyCenter; Vitamin C in Your Pregnancy Diet; August 2009
- MayoClinic.com; Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid); 2011
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Zinc
- The Lancet; "Zinc Supplementation During Pregnancy and Effects on Growth and Morbidity in Low Birthweight Infants: A Randomised Placebo Controlled Trial"; S.J. Osendarp, et. al.; 2001
- Medline Plus: Zinc