Folate and folic acid has long been identified as the most important nutrient for pregnant women for preventing serious birth defects of the brain and spine in developing babies. All prenatal vitamins (including those prescribed in Beijing) include folic acid, the synthetic form of the naturally occurring B vitamin, folate. Natural sources of folate include:
Soybeans and soymilk
Green leafy vegetables
Folic acid is also found in enriched grain products like flour or wheat germ. Western brands of enriched flour such as Gold Medal can be found at Jenny Lou and Lohao carries wheat germ.
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids – alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – are essential dietary nutrients. DHA is thought to be important for the developing brain and nervous system, which contain higher levels of the fatty acid in comparison with the rest of the body.
These omega-3 fatty acids are “essential” because they play important physiological functions, but the body does not produce them on its own, relying on dietary sources. Omega-3s can be found in:
Coldwater fish such as herring and anchovies
It’s important to strike the right balance between these omega-3 and omega-6 acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are found in eggs, poultry, (non-canola) vegetable oil, and especially in processed foods and saturated fats. It is thought that the balance of omega-3 to omega-6 (4 parts to 1) aids proper cell function, boosting immunity. This can be done by increasing the intake of the foods above and decreasing consumption of corn oil, processed foods, and saturated fats.
Canola oil is available at Jenny Lou and other Western supermarkets. Look for 100% canola oil (as opposed to vegetable oil) and brands such as Canola Harvest (approximately RMB 49 for 946ml). Lohao carries Organic Flaxseed Oil called Joyful (RMB 82 per bottle) as well as organic flaxseeds (RMB 24.8 for 0.5 kg).
Leyou carries gummy vitamin supplements of omega-3s specifically for children called IronKids Gummies (RMB 198 for bottle of 60) and Gummyvites (RMB 168 per bottle of 60).