The thought of holding your little one in your arms soon may be thrilling but, the thought of developing stretch marks as a result of your pregnancy may not be as welcoming. Stretch marks appear due to a combination of various factors related to heredity like your skin type and structure, hormonal changes, excessive stretching of the skin due to weight gain or weight loss, and even your diet.
Stretch marks are very likely to develop when you are pregnant, most especially if women in your family have them. It is generally difficult to tell whether or not you will get these silvery, sometimes colored, streaks on your skin. The good news is, there are some things you can do to strengthen your skin and help prevent tearing which causes stretch marks.
Keeping yourself healthy yet lean at the same time throughout your pregnancy is quite a start. You can achieve this only by adopting a healthier diet and performing regular physical activity. This will help keep your skin intact and minimize overstretching your skin as a result of rapid pregnancy weight gain.
Load up on foods rich in Vitamins A, K, C, and E. These vitamins have been proven to facilitate the healing process of the skin, thereby increasing the likelihood of minimizing, if not totally avoiding, the appearance of stretch marks throughout the full nine months of your pregnancy.
What vitamins to take to prevent stretch marks?
1. Vitamin A
Other than accelerating the skin’s repair and renewal process, Vitamin A also acts as a skin protection agent by fighting off free radicals that damage otherwise healthy skin cells. Vitamin A has been proven to have anti-ageing properties. Its derivative, tretinoin, is used as an active ingredient in many stretch marks and anti-wrinkle creams.
However, Vitamin A, including tretinoin, can be toxic if ingested or topically applied in very high doses. Consult with your physician if you are planning to supplement with Vitamin A. Tretinoin, in fact, must be avoided in all forms during pregnancy as it has been shown to impede normal fetal development.
Dietary sources of Vitamin A include carrots, tomato juice, broccoli, liver, and milk. Most green and leafy vegetables will contain high levels of Vitamin A.
2. Vitamin K
This vitamin may be considered as the powerhouse of skin repair. Vitamin K has been found to have beneficial effects to the skin, particularly in speeding up the skin’s healing and blood clotting process especially after a surgery. In fact, Vitamin K is widely used in hospitals to help accelerate wound healing in a patient that has just undergone surgery.
Vitamin K is also widely available as a beauty cream or serum. It is well-known to protect the skin from stretch marks and has high potential of improving how they appear. Other skin benefits of Vitamin K include lessening skin discoloration, and decreasing the risk for developing spider veins.
Among the best food sources of Vitamin K are asparagus, broccoli, and spinach.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E has earned a positive reputation when it comes to overall skin health and care. According to the National Institute of Health1 , the only form of Vitamin E that meets human requirements is alpha-tocopherol. The recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin E for a healthy adult is 15mg, and 19mg for lactating mothers2 .
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals. Vitamin E helps the skin produce elastin and collagen fibers. These fibers are important in repairing skin tears and other damages, including stretch marks, by restructuring the skin cells. In addition, Vitamin E helps the skin capture and retain higher amounts of moisture which prevents skin dryness. When skin is moist and supple, the likelihood of developing stretch marks is low.
Foods containing high levels of this vitamin are mangoes, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, kiwi, and peanuts. Topical application of Vitamin E will also help keep your skin ultra-hydrated throughout your pregnancy. Feel free and safe to rub on cocoa butter, shea butter or, aloe vera to get that extra special care and protection only Vitamin E can provide.
4. Vitamin C
For faster and more efficient absorption of the first three vitamins – Vitamins A, K, and E make sure you are getting sufficient levels of Vitamin C throughout your pregnancy. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which simultaneously boosts your immunity.
Consider Vitamin C supplementation during pregnancy. Food sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits and green and leafy vegetables.
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Set a weight management plan with your physician and stick to it. Try not to gain more weight than you need to, not only to help you avoid developing stretch marks but also to keep you and your baby fit and healthy throughout your pregnancy.
2Note: Food and Nutrition Board also in http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/