Your body needs zinc for the production, repair, and functioning of DNA - the body's genetic blueprint and a basic building block of cells. Zinc should always be an important part of your healthy pregnancy diet and nutrition plans to cope with your baby's rapid cell growth. And it's essential to help support your immune system and heal wounds. There have also been studies that link zinc deficiency to low birth weights and other problems during pregnancy and delivery. So it's important to be aware of zinc in your everyday healthy pregnancy diet.
Food sources of zinc
Fortified cereals and red meat are good sources of zinc - and you can get it from shellfish, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy products. One of the best sources of zinc is oysters, but sadly oysters are definitely a food to avoid during pregnancy as they contain potential toxins!
Other sources are fortified breakfast cereals, tofu, chickpeas and lentils, seeds and cheddar cheese.
Should you take a zinc supplement?
Most people who eat meat get plenty of zinc from a reasonably well-balanced diet. But since it's harder to absorb the mineral from plant foods, you may have a hard time getting enough zinc from food alone if you eat a mostly vegetarian diet so make sure you eat plenty of whole grains. You don't have to get the recommended amount of zinc every day, you can average intake over a few days.
Its also possible to eat too much zinc! It can cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, it is advised you eat no more than 40mg of zinc a day. SO if you have any concerns that you are eating too much zinc, or not enough see your doctor or healthcare advisor.
For a vitamin packed healthy pregnancy snack try making hummus, which you can enjoy with raw veggie sticks or in wholemeal pitta for a delicious vitamin packed boost.
This hummus is quick, easy and moreish - and much nicer than shop bought varieties! Chick peas are a great source of protein and zinc and this is an easy way to include it in your pregnancy diet.
- I tin of chick peas drained and rinsed
- 1 lemon, juice and zest
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 100ml olive oil (extra virgin will give a lovely rich flavour)
- Pinch of salt
- Put the chick peas in a food processor with the garlic, lemon juice and zest, tahini and salt. Whiz together and pour in the olive oil as the motor is still running.
- You want a smooth dip, so if necessary add some cold water, still with the motor running, until you get the consistency you want. Taste for flavour and if it tastes bland, add more salt.
Serve with hot pitta bread, olives, vegetable crudités or with jacket potatoes and salad for a healthy lunch option