Iron takes part in normal energy-producing metabolic processes, contributes to normal red blood cell and haemoglobin production, as well as takes part in normal oxygen transport. In addition, iron contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system, the reduction of tiredness and fatigue and plays a role in cell division.
It is important to mention that the iron needs of men and women, especially expectant mothers are different.2
Permanent iron deficiency may lead to iron deficiency anaemia, the symptoms of which include rapid breathing, greater predisposition to infections, tiredness, weakness, but a typical sign may be pale skin, as well.2
Natural sources of iron:
bran, sardines in tomato sauce, dried apricots, tuna oil.
2 Learn more - National Library of Medicine
Copper takes part in the maintenance of the normal condition of connective tissues, supports normal energy-producing metabolic processes, the normal functioning of the nervous system and the protection of cells against oxidative stress.
In addition, copper contributes to the normal pigmentation of hair and skin, as well as to the normal functioning of the immune system.
Due to pregnancy, expectant mothers tend to have low haemoglobin level. Moreover, the development of the embryo requires more copper, therefore pregnant women should take in more copper.
Copper deficiency may lead to the following illnesses:
- certain heart and coronary artery diseases,
Excessive copper intake decreases zinc level in the body, which may cause insomnia, fall of hair, irregular periods and depression.3
Natural sources of copper:
wheat germ, nuts, almond, walnut, lentil, green peas, kidney beans, oat flakes, parsley, wheat bran, champignon, veal liver, pork liver and sea fish.
Zinc is a mineral that takes part in the maintenance of normal acid-base balance, normal carbohydrate metabolism and normal mental functions. Moreover, zinc plays a role in the maintenance of the normal functioning of the immune system.
The following products are natural sources of zinc:
Legumes, egg, liver, types of meat, offal, oyster, shellfish, sea fish, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, oily sardine, pork tenderloin, dairy products (especially cheeses) and whole grain products.
Magnesium is a very important mineral that helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue, as well as takes part in normal energy-producing processes. It plays a role in the maintenance of the nervous system and the normal functioning of muscles, as well as normal bones and teeth.
In addition, magnesium is needed for the maintenance of normal psychological functions and normal cell division.
Why is it especially important to supplement magnesium during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, daily magnesium need may increase even by 50%. Studies have proven that magnesium deficiency may result in spontaneous abortion, imminent premature birth and foetal retardation. Based on the above, it is especially important to provide sufficient magnesium for expectant mothers.4
Even mild magnesium deficiency may increase the risk of the development of heart disease and diabetes. Severe magnesium deficiency may cause cardiac arrhythmia, fatigue, muscle spasm, irritability, nervousness and confusion.4
Magnesium overdose causes diarrhoea, nausea, but it can also have more severe side effects if the body is unable to excrete the excess amount of magnesium. The symptoms include muscle weakness, lethargy, confusion and shortness of breath. Fortunately, such side effects rarely occur, as the kidneys excrete magnesium fast.4
The largest amount of magnesium can be found in dark leafy greens, legumes, certain types of fruit (apple, fig, grapefruit, lemon), potatoes, different grains (mainly in their hull), in wholemeal flour types, oilseeds, dairy products and fish.
Calcium is an important mineral that contributes to normal clotting of blood and energy metabolism processes, as well as to the maintenance of the normal condition of teeth and bones. Besides, calcium plays a role in normal functioning of muscles, neurotransmission and the normal functioning of digestive enzymes.
The absorption of calcium requires vitamin D!
Parathormone produced by the parathyroid gland increases calcium level by the enhanced breakdown of bones and supporting the active production of vitamin D. Vitamin D facilitates the absorption of calcium from the intestines and plays a role in reducing its excretion with urine. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin D ensures appropriate calcium level for the development of healthy bones, but excess vitamin D releases calcium even from the bones, therefore it should not be overdosed. In the case of vitamin D deficiency, the body cannot absorb enough calcium.55
The consequences of calcium deficiency
Low calcium level may cause muscle spasms, muscle pain and sensory disorders, as it increases the irritability of nerves and muscles, which means that the body reacts even to weaker stimuli more intensely. Calcium deficiency may lead to osteoporosis in the long term.6
Side effects, overdose
Taking calcium rarely has side effects. Sometimes, some gastrointestinal complaints may occur. Although taking calcium rarely leads to overdose, we should not consume too much of it. The symptoms of overdose: nausea, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, mental disorders, excessive thirst, development of kidney stones and, in severe cases, cardiac arrhythmia.
Permanently high calcium level may be caused by vitamin A or D overdose, hyperparathyroidism, malignant tumours, illnesses destructing the bones or renal insufficiency.7
5Learn more - mayoclinicproceedings.org
6Learn more - ajcn.nutrition.org
7Learn more - newscientist.comLearn more
Folic acid or vitamin B9 was named after the Latin word ‘folium’, which means ‘leaf’. The main reason for this is that the primary sources of folic acid are leafy vegetables (especially spinach), liver, fruits and yeast.
Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin. It plays an important role in the body, particularly in the case of expectant mothers, as at the early stage of pregnancy, during the development of the embryo’ spine, the process closing the neural crest can take place perfectly only in the presence of folic acid.
The supplementation of folic acid is recommended.8
Folic acid is an essential vitamin not only for cell division, but it also takes part in the production of white blood cells, erythrocytes and thrombocytes, in the metabolism of amino acids and polynucleotides. In addition, it maintains the perfect condition of gastro-intestinal tract and the oral mucosa.
Excessive folic acid intake may decrease the utilisation of zinc!
Folic acid gets absorbed more effectively from artificial preparations than from natural sources. The cells need vitamin B12 to absorb and store folic acid. If the body is well-supplied with folic acid, the symptoms deriving from vitamin B12 deficiency may disappear. It may be especially dangerous in the case of vegetarianism.9
Iron deficiency increases the body’s need for folic acid!10
Clinical pictures deriving from folic acid deficiency:
- Megaloblastic anaemia (anaemia)
- neurological disorders (peripheral neuropathy, myelopathy, myelosis funicularis)
- vegetative disorders
- psychiatric disorders (insomnia, irritability, forgetfulness, depression)11
Tanulmányok a terhesség alatti vitamin, nyomelem és ásványi anyag szükségletről1Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists: