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Before you have a baby, it’s important to get your own diet on the right track. Watch our video to find out which nutrients to add to your meals.

Thinking about having a baby? Nutritional therapist Stephanie Ridley from Fig & Bloom explains why it’s important to first take a look at your diet to check that it contains nutrients that can support your health, like omega-3 fats, vitamin D and folate. This recipe for salmon kedgeree includes all three.

Want to find out more about nutrition before pregnancy? Read on.

Omega-3 fats

These essential fatty acids are important for a healthy, functioning heart.

However, as your body can’t make omega 3, you do need to include enough of it in your diet.

Some of the best sources are oily fish, including salmon, sardines, trout and mackerel. But don’t eat oily fish more than twice a week – too much isn’t good for you either. Other sources are linseeds and omega-3 enriched eggs.

Watch out if you usually take your omega 3 in supplement form – some can contain vitamin A, which you need to be wary of taking in large doses when pregnant as it can cause birth defects. Talk to your pharmacist for more advice. 

Vitamin D

This vitamin helps your body absorb calcium into your bones and teeth.

The biggest source of vitamin D is sunshine – but as this country isn’t known for its sunny climate, a lot of people are deficient. To make enough vitamin D, you need to go out in the sun for 15 minutes two or three times a week between April and September, from 11am to 3pm (without sunscreen). If you do this, you’ll hopefully have enough vitamin D stores for winter too.

Unfortunately, even in the summer months it can be difficult to get outside, so it’s important to top up your levels with food sources of vitamin D. The best sources are oily fish, like salmon, sardines, pilchards and trout, and fortified breakfast cereals, plus eggs and mushrooms.

Find out more about vitamin D. 

Folate

Eating a diet rich in folate helps to protect your growing baby from developing neural tube defects, like spina bifida, which can affect the growth of your baby’s brain and spinal cord.

It’s important to eat a diet rich in folate well before you start trying for a baby as you won’t know exactly when you conceive. Good sources of folate are fortified breakfast cereals, beans and dark-green leafy vegetables, like broccoli, spinach and watercress.

But you should also take a folic acid supplement of 400mcg every day before you start trying for a baby, and all the way up until the end of your first trimester.

That way, you’ll have maximum protection for your little one.

With thanks to the British Dietetic Association.

This information is intended as part of a healthy, balanced diet and is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare professional.  Everybody and pregnancy is different, so you should consult your healthcare professional before changing your diet or considering any form of supplement.  As with all health concerns, if you feel unwell you should seek medical advice.

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