Nutrient Intake in Adolescence Influences Future Motherhood

In pregnancy, it is common to hear that pregnant women are eating for two.What many do not know is that feeding a woman decades before getting pregnant can also affect the future of her baby.

New recommendations known as “Think First in Food” and made by the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) 1 , the world’s largest association of maternal health professionals in partnership with the Abbott Nutrition Division show that nutritional choices made At 10 years of age have a huge impact on a woman’s ability to safely and healthfully into adulthood.

It is important to maintain good health habits early on, with a balanced and varied diet, as poor diet can bring not only immediate losses, but also future risks, especially for the reproductive health of women.

In many societies, women and adolescents have inadequate nutrition in relation to the balance between macro (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) in their diet.This deficiency is detrimental to the health of women and their future children.Therefore according to Oxfordastronomy, good health and adequate nutrition before pregnancy are essential for future mothers to meet the demands of pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Essential nutrients
The recommendations contained in the study highlight the introduction of six key nutrients to female nutrition:

  1. Iron

Particularly important for adolescents and pregnant women, it helps to compensate for what is lost during menstruation, in addition to being the greatest nutrient demand during pregnancy.It can be found in red meats, liver, nuts, pulses, dark green vegetables.In the case of iron of vegetable origin, its absorption is best when consumed with foods that are source of vitamin C.

  1. Iodine

Fundamental during the early days of pregnancy, it is usually not present in diets that do not include iodized salt.It is found in seaweed, seafood and iodized salt.

Folic acid

It is recommended that all women of reproductive age consume 400 μg/day of this nutrient in the form of supplements, or through fortified foods.Folic acid can also be found in dark green vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and Romaine lettuce.

  1. Vitamin B12

Naturally found in products of animal origin, in general this important nutrient is difficult to be ingested in sufficient quantity, mainly by vegetarians and vegans.Vegans can ensure adequate intake of the nutrient by choosing vegetable milks with vitamin B12 and fortified breakfast cereals.

  1. Calcium

If girls and women do not consume enough dairy products, they are likely to be eating an inadequate amount of calcium.A greater intake is particularly important for adolescents during the stage known as “growth spurt.”Calcium is found in dairy products, canned fish with their bones, tofu and legumes.

  1. Vitamin D

Foods are usually low in vitamin D unless they are fortified with this nutrient.Most of our vitamin D is generated by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight, although this process is less effective in people with dark pigmented skin.However, some foods are naturally rich in vitamin D such as fish oils, fatty fish, mushrooms and egg yolks.

“Think First in Food” is an initiative that seeks to ensure health, productivity, life expectancy and well-being for future generations.If you want to know more about it, access the complete publication available in English.

1. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) recommendations on adolescent, preconception, and maternal nutrition: “Think Nutrition First”. Hanson M; Bardsley A; De-Regil LM; Moore S; Oken E; Poston L; Ronald C. Ma; McAuliffe F; Suitcase K; Purandare C; Yajnik C; Rushwan H; Morris J. Australia. 2015.
2. Taken from The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Recommendations on Adolescent, Preconception, and Maternal Nutrition:”Think Nutrition First.”Int J Gynecol Obstet 2015;131 (Suppl 4): S213-254.

Patrícia Ruffo is Scientific Manager of Abbott’s Nutrition Division. Graduated in Nutrition from the University of São Paulo (USP), PhD in Science from the Paulista School of Medicine, Patrícia holds a Master of Science degree from the Medical School of São Paulo.