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Reducing Pregnancy Complications With Vitamin C

When you’re pregnant, you’ll want to do everything you can to keep your baby safe and healthy. Most mothers-to-be are very careful with their diet, avoiding foods that could be dangerous, and refraining from smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking unnecessary medications. They also usually make a point of getting some exercise and taking prenatal vitamins and mineral supplements. However, one vitamin that deserves special focus for its ability to help reduce certain risks associated with pregnancy is vitamin C.

Vitamin C – or ascorbic acid – is commonly found in citrus fruits. It’s also found in high amounts in rose hips, other fruits including kiwi and strawberries, some green vegetables including broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and even some organ meats. Clearly, it’s easy to get, no matter what your dietary preferences.

But how can vitamin C help you during pregnancy? First, you need vitamin C for your own health. Pregnancy places great demands on your body and you need to keep yourself healthy to keep your baby healthy. Second, vitamin C is said to be able to help prevent certain complications of pregnancy, including pre-eclampsia – also known as pregnancy-induced hypertension – preterm labor, anemia, death of full term infants, and babies who are small for their gestational age.

However, recent scientific studies may contradict some of these commonly held beliefs. According to medical research, there is enough evidence to suggest that vitamins C does indeed help prevent pre-eclampsia, having a baby who is small for their gestational age, and pregnancy-related anemia. However, in some studies, it didn’t seem to help with preterm labor – in fact, excessive amounts of vitamin C seemed to exacerbate that condition.

In addition, when a mother ingests excessive amounts of vitamin C during pregnancy, she may also give birth to a baby with ascorbic acid dependency, which is a condition that produces symptoms similar to scurvy. Research studies are ongoing and should yield additional important information for maternal and fetal health in the upcoming years.

For the optimal health of yourself and your baby, you need to consume adequate – not excessive – amounts of vitamin C. But how much do you need on a daily basis? A study found no adverse affects when up to 2,000 mgs. of vitamin C were consumed each day.

The best way to get vitamin C when you’re pregnant is to eat foods that are rich in vitamin C as part of a healthy diet. Aim for having two servings of a food rich in vitamin C every day. In addition, you should have two servings of dark green vegetables every day, and include a yellow or orange fruit or vegetable at least four times per week.

However, it’s important to note that one food can only fulfill one requirement – for example, broccoli can count as a green vegetable or a food rich in vitamin C, but not both on the same day. A serving of orange juice may count as either your vitamin C rich food or your yellow/orange fruit or vegetable, but not both. When in doubt, an extra serving of a whole food is probably better than having too few servings.

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