Zinc is one of those minerals whose importance is almost always relegated to second place compared to the importance of others such as iron, whose needs are widely known and publicized, either during pregnancy, as well as in the puerperium and during lactation. .
It is true that, given the increase in blood volume in pregnancy and its loss in childbirth and postpartum, iron needs are very high and its deficiency is very debilitating for the mother, but zinc is essential during pregnancy, let's see why.
Zinc is an essential mineral for the body. It is necessary for functions such as protein synthesis, cell division and growth, and nucleic acid metabolism. During pregnancy, the growth and division of cells reaches a very high rate, since the new baby originates from a cell that divides multiple times. In addition, the genetic information of the new growing baby, which is stored in DNA and RNA - nucleic acids - requires a considerable amount of zinc.
Zinc is part of many hormones and enzymes, of special importance in pregnancy, as well as being part of the ovum and sperm, its deficiency being of great importance for fertility.
It is also is necessary for the development of the fetus brain, forming part of many of its structures, and, in addition, its benefits on the immune system are known, helping to increase protection against infections and maintain the army of antibodies.
Today, most fortified foods contain zinc, so it is difficult not to get the recommended daily amount for pregnant women. However, it is better to ensure a weekly and not daily contribution, as it is much easier to obtain.
Animal proteins are generally a good source of zinc in pregnancy, of high bioavailability. Beef, pork and lamb contain a higher amount of zinc than fish, while chicken and turkey are an intermediate contribution. Nuts, especially pistachios and walnuts, whole grains and legumes are another recommended source of this mineral.
Eggs, the yolk in particular, and milk and dairy products - cheeses and yogurts - also have appreciable amounts of zinc.
It is estimated that around 80% of pregnant women worldwide consume amounts of zinc below the recommendedAlthough the deficiency is usually only moderate, it can affect the outcome of the pregnancy, with preterm deliveries and low birth weight babies. Despite this, it is not recommended to supplement this mineral during pregnancy, but rather to control - and increase if necessary - its intake from the diet.
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