Even before a woman becomes pregnant, what she eats helps to determine her reproductive health and, importantly, influences the ability to become and stay pregnant. Women trying to conceive should ensure adequate intake of omega-3 DHA, vitamins and minerals to prepare the body for conception and a healthy pregnancy. Important steps in infant development take place during the first few weeks of pregnancy when most women do not know they are pregnant. Therefore, it is recommended women trying to conceive prepare their bodies by taking a prenatal supplement.
Omega-3 DHA: DHA, a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid, is the most abundant omega-3 in the brain and eye. During the first trimester Omega-3 DHA is important because it contributes to the development of the nervous system, beginning around the fifth week of pregnancy. DHA is most commonly found in oily fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel, however other sources include omega-3 fortified foods, beverages and dietary supplements.
Vitamin E: While this vitamin is very important throughout pregnancy, it is particularly critical early on, before most women know they are pregnant. It is essential for the protection of DHA from oxidation, particularly in the developing nervous system and brain, and inadequate intakes increase the risk of early pregnancy loss.
Folic Acid: This B vitamin is needed for the normal development of the spinal cord as deficiency increases risk of neural tube defects. The spinal cord closes around the sixth week of pregnancy, just as many women are learning they are pregnant, therefore it is critical that women trying to conceive consume recommended levels before conception.