There are a number of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that play a very important role in the growth and development of your unborn baby. You’re probably familiar with some of the more common nutrients highly recommended during pregnancy, like: folate, calcium and vitamin D. One that may not get as much attention, but is just as important, is zinc. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, zinc “supports normal growth and development during pregnancy.”
One of the reasons zinc is so important during pregnancy is because of its role in the production, repair and functioning of DNA. DNA is so rapidly forming during the early stages of pregnancy, making zinc especially important during this time. In addition to helping with DNA, zinc also supports your immune system and helps to heal wounds.
While most prenatal vitamins contain enough zinc to meet your needs, it’s important to make sure you’re aware of your dietary intake. The daily recommended intake of zinc during pregnancy is 11 mg/day. There are a number of food sources that may help you get all the zinc you need during pregnancy. Good sources of zinc include: fortified cereals, red meat, nuts and dairy products.
It is pretty rare in the United States for a person to be deficient in zinc. However, pregnant woman and vegetarians are at an increased risk of developing a zinc deficiency. When a zinc deficiency occurs during pregnancy it increases the risk of miscarriage, toxemia and low birth weight. While there is little chance you’ll need additional zinc supplementation beyond what you get from your diet and prenatal vitamin, it is important to make sure you’re getting enough. If you have any concerns about your zinc intake or levels consult your doctor.