Pregnancy, especially for first-time mothers, can be a daunting time as there is so much conflicting information about what to eat, what to drink, and what supplements to take to make healthy babies.
Fortunately, there are some obvious standards to follow, such as a prenatal vitamin with extra folic acid, quitting smoking and drinking, eliminating most seafood, and stopping most herbal supplements and teas unless they're safe for pregnancy.
There are three pregnancy-safe nutrients that may provide additional support to brain development and, subsequently, smart(er) children. Remember, before rushing out to buy anything, consult with your health care provider.
This water-soluble B vitamin is critical for brain development and cell membranes. Recent research in the June 2013 American Journal of Epidemiology found that those pregnant women who consistently ate 325 mg or more of choline had children with better visual memory skills than those who did not.
Choline is generally considered safe unless taken in extreme dose (10 grams or more). It should not be taken if someone is also on the medication methotrexate. For those looking to eat their way to healthy levels, food sources include beef liver, wheat germ, eggs, beef, cod, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
DHA is otherwise known as docosahexaenoic acid. It's part of the omega-3 mix, with EPA. DHA specifically has been associated with better brain development as it helps the rapidly growing neuronal cells, particularly in the last trimester of pregnancy.
Formula and baby food makers have begun adding DHA to their ingredients to ensure infants and growing children get enough of this healthy nutrient.
DHA supplements should be at least 300mg and come from a reputable source where the oil is screened for toxins, heavy metals and chemicals. Be very careful while pregnant when eating the popular omega-3 source of fish, such as salmon, sardines and anchovies.
Becoming iron anemic (or low on iron) while pregnant is a common development.