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Pregnancy

      Zinc in pregnancy

      Read time: 3 minutes

      The rapid growth and development of tissue and DNA that’s taking place in your baby’s body during your pregnancy relies on a good supply of zinc.

      Learn more about the importance of zinc in your diet during pregnancy, the best sources of zinc and how much you need to support your growing baby.

      Why is zinc so important during pregnancy?

      Zinc, a mineral found in many foods, plays an essential role in the construction of your baby’s cells and DNA during pregnancy. It’s needed for cell division and tissue growth, supporting normal development as your baby grows. As pregnancy is a time when your baby is growing from a single cell into a little person comprised of trillions of cells, a healthy intake of zinc as part of a healthy, balanced pregnancy diet is crucial.

      An adequate supply of zinc during pregnancy has various other benefits for your baby, too. Found in high concentrations in the brain, it’s important for normal brain function, which contributes to all future learning and development2. It also helps to build a robust immune system by helping to maintain a healthy amount of antibodies1.

      It also supports your own immune system, helping protect you against infections and also helping wounds heal1, making it as important for your own health as it is for your baby’s.

      How much zinc do you need when you’re pregnant?

      Getting the right amount of zinc in your diet is especially important during pregnancy, when your immune system is naturally suppressed, leaving you more vulnerable to infection3. Maintaining a healthy intake of zinc throughout your pregnancy has also been linked to a lower risk of premature birth4.

      The recommended daily intake for every woman, whether pregnant or not, is 7mg each day. Since zinc is present in many foods, you should be getting all the zinc you need from a healthy, well-balanced diet5. If you decide to breastfeed your baby, you shouldn’t need to make any special dietary changes but it’s a good idea to eat healthily. You can always talk to your midwife or healthcare professional if you’d like more advice.

      Clinical studies have produced inconsistent results in terms of the effect of too much zinc or a lack of zinc during pregnancy. But what we do know is that small amounts of zinc are vital for our overall health, and since our bodies can’t produce or store it, it’s essential that we include it in our daily diets. 

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      Which foods contain zinc?

      Shellfish, Meat and legumes like chickpeas, lentils and beans

      are all excellent sources of zinc5.

      Wholegrain bread, fortified cereals and corn also provide zinc, but the phytates they contain can inhibit the absorption of zinc from other foods. To maximise your intake from other sources, avoid regularly eating these foods at the same time.

      Foods high in zinc for pregnancy6

      Food Zinc per 100g
      Cooked oysters 14.7mg
      Sun dried tomatoes 13.6mg
      Beef fillet 7.8mg
      Pumpkin seeds 7.5mg
      Sunflower seeds 5.8mg
      Lamb chops 5.4mg
      Pine nuts/cashews 5.3 – 5.5mg
      Almonds/pecans/brazil nuts 3.7 – 4.1mg
      Cheddar cheese 3.6mg
      Lentils/kidney beans (dried) 3.0 – 4.0mg

      Try boosting your intake with these zinc-rich snacks and meals:

      1. Wellinghausen N. Immunobiology of gestational zinc deficiency. Br J Nutr 2001;85(Suppl 2):S81-86.
      2. British Nutrition Foundation. Nutrition and development, short and long-term consequences for health. London: Wiley Blackwell, 2013. p.157.
      3. NHS UK. Why are pregnant women at higher risk of flu complications? [Online]. 2020. Available at: www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/3096.aspx?CategoryID=5 [Accessed March 2020]
      4. WHO. Zinc supplementation during pregnancy [Online]. 2013. Available at: https://www.who.int/elena/bbc/zinc_pregnancy/en/ [Accessed March 2020]
      5. NHS. Vitamins and minerals – others [Online]. 2017. Available at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-minerals/pages/other-vitamins-minerals.aspx#zinc [Accessed March 2020]
      6. The medical Journal of Australia. Zinc and vegetarian diets [Online]. 2013. Available at: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2013/199/4/zinc-and-vegetarian-diets [Accessed March 2020]

      Your baby's future health begins here

      Your baby's future health begins here

      At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; that each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

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      Questions about feeding and nutrition?

      Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.