Taking care of a growing child for nine months during pregnancy can be physically demanding.
Maintaining your diet and making sure you are taking the proper amount of vitamins and other nutrients before, during, and after delivery are essential to maintain your health.
Vitamin C is one such vitamin that you shouldn’t skip while pregnant. It is a water-soluble and potent antioxidant that you should consume daily to boost your immunity, support your baby’s development, and possibly reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the complete guide to the, Importance of Vitamin C During Pregnancy
Why Is Vitamin C Vital During Pregnancy?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is vital for the growth of the developing baby and the mother-to-be and for removing genetic defects.
Benefits of Vitamin C During Pregnancy:
- It helps maintain a healthy immune system and functions as an antioxidant in the body, helping in the body’s defence against infections and protecting cells from pollutants and free radical damage. Accumulation of free radicals in the body can cause health disorders like cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
- Every day, your body and your baby’s body require vitamin C to produce collagen, a protein essential for bone growth, healthy skin, cartilage, tendons, and tissue repair and healing.
- Taking vitamin C can help your body absorb iron more effectively. According to research, taking 90 mg of vitamin C improves iron absorption by 67%. Iron maintains normal haemoglobin levels and guards against anaemia. The second and third trimesters have higher iron needs. Therefore, boosting your diet with vitamin C will help you meet those needs.
- Ascorbic acid is necessary for the proper development of the foetus. It promotes the development of the baby’s tissues, strengthens the placenta’s blood vessels, increases the amount of oxygen the foetus receives, and reduces the risk of placental abruption.
- Because vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, the body cannot store it. So, you must replenish yourself with a good supply of vitamin C to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
- You may become constipated early in pregnancy due to hormonal changes in your body. Taking vitamin C during pregnancy is known to help with constipation and facilitate bowel movements.
- Applying vitamin C-containing creams or lotions, or simply taking them daily, can improve your skin’s elasticity, reducing stretch marks caused by pregnancy.
- Regular consumption of vitamin C may reduce the risk of stress in individuals, whether pregnant or not.
- Vitamin C, as a diuretic, may cause the kidneys to excrete more water and sodium from the body. It relaxes the blood vessel walls and lowers blood pressure.
How Much Vitamin C Do Pregnant Women Need?
Vitamin C is safe to consume while pregnant. You need more vitamin C than a non-pregnant woman, and a breastfeeding mother needs even more.
Pregnant women aged 18 and under should consume 80mg of vitamin C per day, while women aged 19 and up should consume 85mg. Breastfeeding mothers should aim for 120 mg of vitamin C per day. Try incorporating vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables into your diet to meet your daily dietary goal.
Although vitamin C is water-soluble, it is not recommended to consume high amounts of it while pregnant. The maximum daily amount of vitamin C should not exceed 2000 mg because high doses of vitamin C can cause stomach upset, diarrhoea, nausea, and other health diseases.
What Foods Contain Vitamin C?
Citrus fruits are the most abundant source of vitamin C, but they can also be found in other fruits and vegetables. Remember that cooking degrades vitamin C, so aim to consume some raw C-rich foods every day.
Best Sources of Vitamin C, Along With Their Quantities:
- Oranges – 70mg per medium fruit
- Grapefruit – 38 mg per ½ medium-sized
- Kiwi – 91mg per whole fruit
- Strawberries – 85mg per cup (whole)
- Tomatoes – 16 mg per medium fruit
- Raspberries – 30mg per cup (whole)
- Red capsicum – 95 mg per ½ cup (raw)
- Green capsicum – 60 mg per ½ cup (raw)
- Broccoli – 51 mg per ½ cup (cooked)
- Brussel Sprouts – 48 mg per ½ cup (cooked)
- Potatoes – 17mg per medium-sized (baked)
- spinach – 8mg per cup (raw)
What Are the Risks of a Low Intake of Vitamin C During Pregnancy?
During pregnancy, your body undergoes various significant changes. Getting enough vitamins and nutrients through your diet is essential for the baby’s growth and development, as well as hormonal balance.
Vitamin C Deficiency Can Lead To Several Health Complications, Including:
- Vitamin C deficiency in pregnant women prevents the foetus’s brain from optimal development. It may even affect the brain’s hippocampus responsible for learning and memory.
- A lack of vitamin C can lead to rough, dry skin, slow wound and bruise healing, and brittle hair.
- Its deficiency can cause bleeding gums and damage the capillary veins (tiny blood vessels) beneath the skin. If this condition persists, scurvy may develop.
Can You Take Vitamin C Supplements During Pregnancy?
Typically, taking a separate chewable vitamin C supplement is not necessary. You may easily acquire your required daily vitamin C intake from various sources, including fruits, vegetables, and prenatal supplements.
Although it is rare, taking supplements increases the risk of consuming too much vitamin C. An overdose of vitamin C can cause side effects, including:
- Constant vitamin C consumption above two grams per day can worsen gout and cause kidney stones.
- During the pandemic, many pregnant women began taking vitamin C supplements daily in addition to fruits and vegetables. This has resulted in their high reliance on the supplement, which may cause deficiency symptoms if they stop taking vitamin C abruptly.
- High vitamin C doses can cause abdominal cramps, nausea, exhaustion, intestinal obstruction, insomnia, migraines, diarrhoea, hot flashes, and rashes.
- An excessive dosage of vitamin C can lead to advanced adverse effects, such as oesophageal inflammation, red blood cell troubles, Parkinson’s disease, pain at the injection site, swollen blood vessels around the heart, skin irritation, digestive tract issues, and urinary tract complication.
Vitamin C is essential for a healthy pregnancy, the growth and development of the unborn baby, and possibly lowering the risk of genetic defects in both the mother and the baby.
That said, it should be consumed in the right amount. It is crucial to track your intake, as both, a lack of vitamin C and a high dose can harm your pregnancy.
You can also consult a doctor to understand how much vitamin C your body may require and how to obtain it safely.
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