Zinc is a trace mineral which is required right from the time you conceive till delivery. Zinc has myriad functions during pregnancy; it is very important for all phases of growth, tissue development and maintenance, and for the overall immune system. Zinc is essential for many metabolic processes, protein and blood formation, and in wound healing.
Zinc, the critical trace mineral
- A marginal deficiency during pregnancy can increase the chance of spontaneous abortion and other complications, an extended pregnancy or premature delivery, and prolonged labor.
- Adequate supply of this trace mineral is crucial in the early stages of pregnancy since zinc is involved in the process of cell replication. Low intake in early pregnancy can contribute to growth retardation, low birth weight babies and preterm deliveries.
- Zinc is very important since it is vital for cell division and tissue growth of the developing baby.
- Zinc ensures your baby is not premature; low zinc intake has been associated with neural tube defects (spina bifida, cleft lip and palate), visual and brain impairment, poor bone development.
- Zinc deficiency also has long term impact on baby - the result is a compromised immune system which is more prone to infections and also a manifestation of developmental and behavioral problems later on.
- Zinc is involved in the formation of genetic material i.e. it stabilizes the genetic code in every cell.
- Zinc aids in the perception of senses such as taste and smell i.e. normal taste and smell sensations are maintained.
- Zinc is essential for baby's hair, skin and proper bone growth.
The etceteras on Zinc
- Zinc brings zing to your immune system - a mild deficiency increases your risk of infection.
- Unlike other trace minerals, zinc is not stored in the body. It circulates all the time and you tend to lose it easily. You can lose zinc when your skin rubs off!
- High-fiber diets such as whole grains can interfere with zinc absorption.
- A high-calcium diet translates to adding more zinc in the diet.
- There is a fine line between a surplus and a shortage of zinc, with problems on both ends. An excess is known to weaken the immune system and trigger copper deficiency.
Zinc and the Vegetarian mum-to-be
- Good sources for vegetarians include nuts, legumes, whole grains and seeds. Vegetarian women need to incorporate plenty of zinc-rich legumes and whole grains into their diet.
- Vegetarians have a harder time getting the right supply of zinc because soy foods and whole grains contain other substances that inhibit the absorption of zinc. A good multi-vitamin & mineral will correct the deficiency.
- Zinc from animal sources such as meat and eggs, is absorbed 4 times more efficiently than zinc derived from plant sources.
- The recommended RDA (recommended dietary allowance) is 15mg of zinc for pregnant females. Although pregnant women's diets tend to be low in zinc, do not take extra zinc without doctor's approval.
- Zinc-rich foods include extra-lean meat (beef, lamb, pork and veal), cooked dried beans and peas, wheat germ, whole grains, fortified ready to eat cereals, yogurt, eggs and oysters