Staying healthy is of the utmost importance during pregnancy and the best way to ensure good health is through a well-charted out balanced diet. Vitamin C is important because it is water soluble and hence your body cannot store it. You need to have a fresh supply of this nutrient everyday through the food you consume.
Why Is Vitamin C Important During Pregnancy?
Also referred to as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C plays a vital role in strengthening the immune system. Its antioxidant property prevents infections and protects you against toxins.
It helps in tissue repair, heals wounds faster, aids bone development and contributes to a healthy skin. It even contributes to healthy hair and nails.
It is important for you and your baby because it helps the body make collagen, a structural protein that is the main component of the bones, tendons and cartilage. Some studies reveal that Vitamin C deficiency can cause mental impairment in newborn babies.
Moreover, it helps the body to absorb iron, primarily from vegetarian sources. Iron is essential to maintain hemoglobin levels.
Vitamin C prevents gum bleeding
It prevents the buildup of cholesterol and removes toxic wastes from the body
Vitamin C is essential for the development of your baby’s tissues, strengthening the blood vessels of the placenta so that more oxygen can reach the baby through it
It prevents constipation and regularizes the bowel movement during pregnancy
It is known to improve your skin’s elasticity which in turn can help eradicate stretch marks post delivery.
Therefore, it goes without saying that this nutrient that is an absolute must during pregnancy. But, as with every other nutrient, you need to be careful not to go on an overdrive. What’s the required amount and what’s the flip side of excess intake?
How Much Vitamin C Is Required During Pregnancy?
Doctors across the globe do not specify a particular dosage of Vitamin C during pregnancy, but they do agree that it should not exceed 2,000 milligrams. The American Pregnancy Association recommends 80 to 85 mg/day, while according to the National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus, it should be 120 mg/day.
However, doctors are unanimous in their opinion that it is best to get your Vitamin C requirement from natural sources like fresh fruits and vegetables rather than from supplements. Many women take multivitamin tablets during pregnancy but these are considered unsafe as it may contribute to excess intake of Vitamin C. Therefore, it is necessary to exercise caution and opt for supplements that are specifically designed for pregnant women which have just the right amount of the required vitamins.
Side Effects Of Excess Vitamin C During Pregnancy:
Excess Vitamin C consumption during pregnancy can cause your baby to be born with Scurvy. In this, your baby can develop intolerance to the vitamin because of your excess consumption during pregnancy. In fact, even after you stop consuming high doses of Vitamin C, your kidneys could still be excreting excess amounts of the vitamin.
High doses of Vitamin C is sometimes known to cause miscarriage and therefore is used as a home remedy for abortion. This is still debatable but many doctors believe that Vitamin C consumed in excess contributes to menstruation and therefore may lead to miscarriages.
In some women even a dosage as low as 500 mg/day can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea and cramping. In a situation like this, which is not too common, you must consult your doctor.
In some women, excess intake of Vitamin C could cause nausea, fatigue, gut blockage, insomnia, hot flashes and rashes
Vitamin C could contribute to an increase in blood pressure and diabetic women may experience a sudden increase in their blood sugar levels.
Continuous consumption of 2 grams of Vitamin C every day can aggravate gout conditions. Again it is advisable to reduce the dosage gradually rather than abruptly.
Sources Of Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is found in abundance not just in citrus fruits but in some leafy green vegetables as well. Some of the well-known sources of Vitamin C are:
Fruits: Orange, lemon, apricots, apples, peaches, grapes, kiwi and berries.
Vegetables: Tomato, beetroot, bell pepper, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, potato
Green Leaves: Parsley and sorrel
Animal Sources: All kinds of meat and fish.
As already mentioned, it is always best to opt for natural sources to get your daily requirement of Vitamin C during pregnancy. Many women want to opt for supplements to meet the daily requirement, but it is quite risky as it could lead to preterm delivery. Many women turn to Vitamin C as a treatment for pregnancy induced high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia. However, research shows that Vitamin C supplements taken with Vitamin E supplements do not help in minimizing the effects of pre-eclampsia. If not monitored carefully, it could cause growth restriction in your baby and could cause heart attack for the mother. Therefore, though Vitamin C is a vital nutrient, mega doses must be avoided. Always make sure to consult your doctor when you plan to include/remove anything from your diet. It is true that during pregnancy our diet is the most important factor that contributes to our health and ensures a safe delivery, but it is necessary that the diet is balanced and includes the right amount of daily nutritional needs. This is just a word of caution and not meant to overwhelm a mum-to-be. Stay safe, eat healthy and enjoy your pregnancy!