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Matern Child Nutr. 2010 Oct;6 Suppl 2:5-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1740-8709.2010.00269.x.

Critical issues in setting micronutrient recommendations for pregnant women: an insight.

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Unit of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Department of Clinical Sciences Hospital L. Sacco and Center for Fetal Research Giorgio Pardi, University of Milan, 20157 Milano, Italy.


The European Micronutrient Recommendations Aligned (EURRECA) Network aims to provide standardized approaches to reveal and beneficially influence variability within the European Union in micronutrient recommendations for vulnerable population groups. Characterization of the 'vulnerability' together with the 'variability' of micronutrient needs represents the first step to creating guidelines for setting micronutrient recommendations within target populations. This paper describes some of the key factors and characteristics relevant to assess micronutrient requirements and formulate recommendations of micronutrients in pregnancy. Nutritional requirements during pregnancy increase to support fetal growth and development as well as maternal metabolism and tissue accretion. Micronutrients are involved in both embryonal and fetal organ development and overall pregnancy outcomes. Several factors may affect directly or indirectly fetal nourishment and the overall pregnancy outcomes, such as the quality of diet including intakes and bioavailability of micronutrients, maternal age, and the overall environment. The bioavailability of micronutrients during pregnancy varies depending on specific metabolic mechanisms because pregnancy is an anabolic and dynamic state orchestrated via hormones acting for both redirection of nutrients to highly specialized maternal tissues and transfer of nutrients to the developing fetus. The timing of prenatal intakes or supplementations of specific micronutrients is also crucial as pregnancy is characterized by different stages that represent a continuum, up to lactation and beyond. Consequently, nutrition during pregnancy might have long-lasting effects on the well-being of the mother and the fetus, and may further influence the health of the baby at a later age.

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