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Preparing for Motherhood: Nutrients for Preconception

With more women waiting to have kids, the longer time frame for preconception planning is creating new opportunities. Brands can help women get their bodies and minds fit for pregnancy with food and beverage products to support preconception. 

Preconception Health Needs

More women are recognizing that the nutrition decisions they make before they’re pregnant can impact the health and development of their baby. Optimizing nutritional status before pregnancy can help mitigate problems like low birth weight, preterm delivery, and birth defects, as well as maternal complications. Nutrition solutions to support women in the preconception phase should aim to address three key areas: essential nutrients for general health and preconception, weight management, and mental wellbeing.

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1. Essential Nutrients

Women considering getting pregnant should ensure they’re meeting the RDA for all the essential vitamins and minerals. While eating a diverse and healthy diet is important, products formulated specifically to meet this need can offer greater assurance for potential moms. Of these essential nutrients, some have an especially significant role on a baby’s development, including folic acid, choline, iodine, iron, and calcium.

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Folic acid, choline, and iodine are critical to the proper development of a baby’s nervous system, which includes the spinal cord and brain. Since these begin to form at the earliest stages of development, adequate stores of these nutrients pre-pregnancy are particularly important. Iron has a special role in supporting the growing placenta, while calcium is necessary for the development of the baby’s bones and teeth.

2. Weight Management

Women who are overweight or underweight are at a greater risk of serious complications during pregnancy. The CDC recommends targeting a healthy weight before becoming pregnant by adopting a lifestyle of healthy eating and regular physical activity.1 Getting the body ready for pregnancy may take a few months or longer but is an important step to take even if a woman is just starting to think about having a baby.

3. Mental Wellbeing

The CDC also emphasizes the importance of getting mentally healthy before becoming a mom.2 Learning ways to effectively cope with stress that can lead to anxiety or depression provides a strong foundation for dealing with the typical stresses that come with pregnancy and parenthood. As an integral part of overall health, mental health should not be overlooked.

Functional Food and Beverage Opportunities

Some women reach for prenatal vitamins to address their preconception nutrient requirements. For example, 43% of U.S. women who are now pregnant or had a baby in the past twelve months report taking prenatal vitamins before becoming pregnant.3 However, this means the majority are not taking prenatal vitamins pre-pregnancy, indicating preconception nutrient needs are likely not being met for many women. In addition, prenatal vitamins can be linked to pill fatigue, and they don't provide weight management or mental wellbeing benefits.

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This reveals an opportunity for food and beverage products targeted to meet the needs of women considering becoming pregnant. Ready-to-drink (RTD) fortified waters and ready-to-mix (RTM) water enhancers offer an appealing alternative to pills—especially flavored waters. Fortified bars is another high-potential format which, like waters, can accommodate both essential nutrients and functional ingredients to support mental wellness. Preconception products for weight management could include high protein and nutrient-dense weight management RTD and RTM beverages.

This reveals an opportunity for food and beverage products targeted to meet the needs of women considering becoming pregnant. Ready-to-drink (RTD) fortified waters and ready-to-mix (RTM) water enhancers offer an appealing alternative to pills—especially flavored waters. Fortified bars is another high-potential format which, like waters, can accommodate both essential nutrients and functional ingredients to support mental wellness. Preconception products for weight management could include high protein and nutrient-dense weight management RTD and RTM beverages.

Supporting a Healthy Start

Brands interested in expanding into the emerging area of preconception food and beverage products will find rewarding opportunities in developing delicious, nutritious products that can support healthy moms and babies. Creating preconception products that deliver on functional and nutritional benefits, convenience, and taste is a way to build trust with consumers at an important time in their lives and stand out as a brand that cares.

Glanbia Nutritionals’ portfolio of innovative ingredient solutions and expertise in functional foods and beverages makes us the ideal partner in developing the products that meet today’s needs. From our NeoShield™ whey protein-derived bioactive ingredient which concentrates whey components such as milk fat globule membrane phospholipids, lactoferrin and immunoglobulins to our custom premix solutions, we have the ingredients to support success in the preconception category. Contact us to learn how we can help your brand develop preconception products. 

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References

1-2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before Pregnancy: Planning for Pregnancy. Retrieved July 10, 2021 from https://www.cdc.gov/preconception/planning.html
3. Mintel. It’s time to refresh the maternal health category. November 2019.

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