New Dutch guidelines for pregnant women include 5 vitamins & minerals, extra fish
Pregnant women should make sure they get enough calcium, iodine and iron, and take folic acid and Vitamin D supplements according to a new set of dietary guidelines from the Dutch Health Council and the Netherlands Nutrition Centre (Voedingscentrum). Cooked fish should also be consumed twice weekly.
The guidelines, released on Tuesday, are more focused on positive messages about what women can and should eat for a healthy pregnancy, but also includes an overview of what foods should be avoided.
The importance of folic acid and Vitamin D "is not new, but it appears that many pregnant women do not do this or, for example, start taking folic acid too late," the Health Council stated. "Folic acid is important for the early development of the unborn child," the Voedingcentrum explains. "In the unborn child, there is an increased risk of spina bifida, cleft lip, and cleft palate."
The new advice also stresses the importance of calcium, iodine and iron during pregnancy. A wide and varied diet is extremely important to getting a healthy balance of necessary vitamins and minerals.
"Make sure you get one gram of calcium per day from the twentieth week of pregnancy. Preferably through a healthy diet, and if that is not possible by taking a supplement,” said Professor Hans van Goudoever, of the pediatrics department at Amsterdam UMC.
Pregnant women are advised to eat fish twice a week. "The advice now contains a nice table with tasty fish that are good for you and your child in those quantities, such as plaice and salmon. Just don't eat them raw, just like meat," Van Goudoever said. "Even if you love sushi or a steak tartare, don't do that for nine months."
Vegetarians and vegans also need to take stock of the nutritional recommendations and select conscious alternatives. “It can be difficult for them to get the recommended amounts of calcium, iron, iodine and fish and fish fatty acids," Van Goudoever said. "As an alternative to fish, these women can, for example, take a fish fatty acid supplement based on algae.”
Pregnant women should also be very careful with their intake of some foods and substances. For example, the consumption of soy products should be limited as they contain substances which resemble oestrogens. The Council also advocated for limiting consumption of caffeine, liver products, soy, and licorice root. Pregnant women should be mindful of the intake of other harmful substances, like certain types of fish and herbal teas, lead from tap water, and baked goods that show signs of mold.
"The quality of the diet requires extra attention during pregnancy. Variety helps to get a lot of different nutrients and reduces the chance of excessive intake of specific harmful substances," the Health Council stated.