While most expectant mothers are aware of the importance of taking in enough calcium, folic acid and other mainstream vitamins and minerals while growing their baby, an increasing body of research is convincing many expectant mothers to focus on getting enough selenium and manganese during pregnancy. Not only can these minerals play a key part in the development of a baby in utero, but they will also set the child up for good health later in life.
Here is what you need to know about these crucial minerals and why they should be a part of your prenatal nutritional plan.
Benefits of Selenium and Manganese
Selenium is an essential mineral. This means that you must get this nutrient through your diet or supplements because your body cannot make it on its own. While it is only needed in small amounts, this mighty mineral plays a vital role in a variety of processes in your body.
As a powerful antioxidant, selenium may help to lower the risk of certain cancers while also offering protection against heart disease. Because selenium also guards the thyroid gland against oxidative stress, it is important for thyroid hormone production. Proper intake of selenium also boosts your immune system and has been shown to slow down the inevitable mental decline that happens as you age.
Like selenium, manganese is also an essential mineral. Although the body stores some manganese in the bones, kidneys, liver and pancreas, you still need to obtain enough of the mineral in your daily diet. Manganese is one of the most important nutrients for bone health, including the development and maintenance of strong bones. This mineral also works to reduce harmful inflammation in the body, helping to ward off a variety of diseases and illnesses. Also, like selenium, manganese is instrumental to the proper function of the thyroid and may help to protect the brain against dangerous free radicals.
Why Women Need Selenium and Manganese During Pregnancy
Although the overall benefits of selenium and manganese to the human body have been known for decades, it is only recently that the positive effects of these minerals for a baby in utero have been brought to light. A recent study out of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that children who had been exposed to higher levels of selenium and manganese while still in the womb ended up having a lower risk of developing high blood pressure during childhood years.
Past research has shown that the predisposition to high blood pressure may begin early in life. Some scientists had previously hypothesized that this predisposition may even start in the womb. This current study lends credence to that school of thought, further highlighting the importance of nourishing the growing baby with the right vitamins and minerals before it even takes its first breath.
This research is also especially important due to the role that hypertension plays as a major risk factor for a myriad of harmful and potentially fatal health conditions. Because hypertension is a modifiable risk factor, it is important that you do all that you can to keep this in check.
How to Get More Selenium and Manganese in Your Diet
Pregnant women have numerous options available to them when looking to boost their intake of selenium and manganese and doing so will provide benefits to themselves and to their baby in utero.
Food Sources for Selenium
Selenium is primarily found in protein sources. Good sources include chicken, pork, turkey, beef, ham, fish and eggs. Another particularly great source of selenium is Brazil nuts. You will also find selenium in cottage cheese, brown rice, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, lentils, cashews, bananas, oatmeal and spinach.
Food Sources for Manganese
There are many different types of food that boast manganese. Foods to consider adding to your diet to ensure that you get this nutrient in abundance include brown rice, chickpeas, pineapple, whole wheat bread, hazelnuts, mussels, black tea, spinach and potatoes.
If you are pregnant, there is a good chance that your physician will recommend the use of a supplement to ensure that both you and the baby are getting all of the nutrients that you need. A comprehensive supplement such as Pregnachron® delivers the recommended amount of selenium and manganese along with all of the other nutrients that you need to promote a healthy pregnancy. Even if you are diligent about eating a balanced diet while pregnant, it is common to fall short of hitting all of your nutritional goals. This is where a dedicated supplement can help to fill in the gaps in your diet.
As more research is done on prenatal nutrition, it becomes even more clear how a mother can boost her child’s health both in utero and outside the womb by being diligent about taking in the right nutrients. The minerals selenium and manganese are just two of the crucial nutrients needed during this critical time of fetal development.