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Now that you’re pregnant, it’s more important than ever for you to maintain a nutritious diet to not only support your well-being throughout the trimesters, but more importantly, to support your newborn’s growth and development. On top of having a well-balanced and healthy diet, there are some common nutrients that are most often overlooked in pregnant mothers. Let’s discover what these nutrients are and what are the best sources to get them.
Vitamin D plays a role in supporting bone health by helping the absorption of calcium. Recent studies have found association between serum Vitamin D with increased risk of inflammatory markers, mortality, hyperglycaemia, higher blood pressure, depression and emergency caesarean section. These new findings have led to increasing attention towards the importance of Vitamin D adequacy in women during pregnancy and postpartum as well.
A research in Singapore has found that up to 40% of pregnant mothers during the second trimester in Singapore were Vitamin D inadequate despite living in a tropical country where adequate sun exposure is available all year round. It was found that those who were Vitamin D inadequate among the Malays had higher fasting blood glucose while the Chinese and Indians had higher risk of emergency caesarean section. Other research has found prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency to be higher among mothers with postpartum depression compared to mothers who did not. No doubt, these links are a concern.
Therefore, achieving adequate Vitamin D status is important in pregnant mothers. Vitamin D can be obtained by supplements (not for everyone, seek advice from your gynaecologist to find out if you are deficient before starting on one) food or even with sun exposure. General recommendation is to have 15 to 30 minutes of exposure to the sun where face, neck, and all limbs are exposed for at least twice a week. Some who are fairer may only need 15 minutes for each exposure, whereas others who may be of darker skin may need longer. Other than that, Vitamin D can also be found in food such as fortified cereals, fortified milk, shiitake mushrooms, salmon and eggs.
New research has also found that you can easily increase Vitamin D content in fresh mushrooms bought from the supermarket by leaving them under the sun for a period of time. This helps to encourage the mushrooms to produce more Vitamin D. Research has found this to be an easy way to increase Vitamin D in mushrooms and significantly improve Vitamin D intake and Vitamin D status through foods.
Omega-3 DHA is known to be anti-inflammatory, involved in supporting brain development and it’s potential protective effect on improving mood. There are also growing studies on how adequate intake of Omega-3 DHA through foods or supplements lead to lower risk of preterm labour and increase birth weight of infants.
A local research has found that a lower ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 intake in women living in Singapore during the second trimester showed higher risk of antenatal anxiety. Many studies have talked about having adequate Omega-3 intakes and it’s potential protective effect on depression. Further studies still need to be done for it to be conclusive.
Nevertheless, Omega-3 DHA is undeniably still a nutrient that is essential during pregnancy for your baby’s brain development and growth. One other interesting finding from Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) was that mothers with higher Omega-3 during pregnancy had smaller weight retention during postpartum! That’s really good news, and another reason for mummies to ensure sufficient intake of Omega-3 during pregnancy!
What about during confinement? Adequate Omega-3 DHA intake is still equally important during confinement as maternal intake is directly translated to Omega-3 content in breast milk. Therefore, finding a suitable confinement meal Singapore delivery service or confinement soup package Singapore catering service which serves Omega-3 DHA rich foods like fish as frequent as two to three times a week is important.
Omega-3 DHA can only be found from marine sources mainly your fish, seafood and algae. Plant based Omega-3 like chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts are normally in the form of Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA) which has a very poor rate of conversion to DHA form which is known to be beneficial for the brain. Recommendation is to have at least 300mg of Omega-3 DHA per day. This can be achieved by having Omega-3 DHA rich and low mercury fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines and cod fish, for two to three times a week. Alternatively, you can take 300mg of Omega-3 DHA supplement per day.
Like folate, choline is involved in brain development in infants. Choline is a nutrient developed by the liver. It is a type of B vitamin. It is known to play a role in brain and spinal cord development during pregnancy, cognitive function in infancy and even prevent cognitive decline in elderly. Until recently, the role of choline as part of a healthy and balanced diet has been largely overlooked.
Choline adequate intake recommendation for pregnant women is 450mg/day by the Institute of Medicine. An interesting fact is that the main source of choline from food is eggs! Just having two eggs a day can achieve up to 60% of recommended adequate intakes.
And yes, we already know what you are thinking. The yolks must be eaten to enjoy these nutrients as it is found in the yolks and not the whites. This may be an unpopular recommendation since egg yolks are associated with higher cholesterol. However, this should not be a concern for mothers during pregnancy who do not have any high cholesterol or heart issues.
Large epidemiological studies and clinical studies have found that dietary cholesterol from eggs does not increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases in healthy people. Other nutrients that are beneficial and can only be found in the egg yolk and not the egg white are Omega-3, Folate, Lutein Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. These nutrients are fat-based, therefore only found in egg yolks and not egg white. Other foods that contain some choline as well can be found in salmon, broccoli and cauliflower.
During postpartum, choline is still essential for the same reasons. So if you’re looking for one that incorporates such foods, Tian Wei Signature is a Singapore confinement meal delivery service that provides meals that have eggs, salmon, broccoli and cauliflower pretty frequently throughout the 28 days. Moreover, to keep it interesting for mummies all these ingredients are prepared in a mixture of traditional and fusion flavours. No more boring confinement meals!
On top of all of this goodness, our confinement meals are also MSG-free and breastfeeding-friendly to help improve your postpartum recovery and breast milk production! Learn more about Tian Wei Signature confinement meal Singapore packages by clicking on the “Book Now” button at the top right corner of this page now!