Reader Questions: On Pasta and Babies

by Ashley on April 22, 2011

Reader Question:

1. I’ve tried Ronzoni’s Garden Delight pasta and really like it. But I was reading the label tonight and saw that it has thiamine mononitrate in it. I researched it online and found some mixed reviews about whether minimal amounts in things like that are dangerous or not. What are your thoughts?

2. Just between you and me, we are hoping in the next couple of months to start trying to have a baby (I asked her before I posted this, don’t worry!). I’m sure eating healthy is important for both fertility and during a pregnancy, but do you know of any specific foods to make sure to eat or to avoid while trying and during pregnancy?

Answer:

1.  Thiamine Mononitrate is just a different form (a form used for food enrichment and in multivitamins) of Thiamine, or Vitamin B1.  The B vitamins help our bodies convert the foods that we eat into fuel therefore it is vital to consume all of the B vitamins.  Since 1998, the FDA has mandated grain product producers to fortify their products with a few of the B vitamins in order to help Americans get the recommend daily intake to lower disease incidences.  This enrichment in no way will harm you;  you could actually compare it to taking taking a B vitamin with your pasta.  Although this fortification will not harm you, it probably won’t help you too much either.  Only grains that are not 100% whole wheat are fortified, therefore I would rather you consume 100% whole wheat pasta in your diet; if you really don’t like it however,there are worse things you could be eating.  The bioavaiblity (our body’s ability to absorb) for vitamins through supplementation is lower than say if you were to eat Thiamin rich foods such as pork, legumes, wheat germ, nuts, wheat bran, etc.  So, I wouldn’t say that there is anything wrong with this pasta but 100% whole wheat would be an upgrade if you are really focusing on only consuming whole grains.

2.  I am so glad that you first off, see the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy, and secondly, are curious enough to ask questions!  Remember that once a child develops inside of you that it is through you that he/she receives his/her nutrition.  What you eat before conception will largely effect the health and growth of the child.  The first thing I can tell you and the most important word of all of pregnancy nutrition is FOLATE (vitamin B9).  I actually just got finished doing a project on folate last week and learned that this is a miracle vitamin when it comes to pregnancy (for the child).  Inadequate intake of folate can lead to neural tube defects within the child in which will develop as early as six weeks conception.  At this time, most mothers don’t even know that they are pregnant so it is too late to reverse the inadequate intake once they find out.  All women of child baring age and pregnant women should consume 600 micrograms a day of folate in order to reduce the chances of neural tube defects in the child.  This is related to your first question: most grains are enriched with folate as well in order to prevent these birth defects, which is a good thing, but again, consuming folate through real foods verses supplementation and enrichment is always better.  Sources of folate include dark green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, broccoli, cauiflower, lentils, nuts, etc.

Another important macronutrient to consume is fat, the good kind: omega 3.  A child lives on the fat that you consume during growth so adequate intake is vital.

In order to make sure that you are covering all basis, a prenatal vitamin act as your insurance and will insure that you and the baby are growing properly and healthily.

And lastly, don’t stop exercising (with your doctors consent): yoga, walking, weight lifting, or anything to keep you moving and motivated will only help ease your pregnancy as well as help you shed off pregnancy weight gain once the child is born.

I hope this helps you and good luck in the process!!

Also, please remember that I am not yet an RD, only on the road to become one.  All of this information is what I have learned in school up to this point and things that I have learned through my life experiences.

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