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Got Zinc?

If you’re planning to become pregnant, you probably know you need to stock your body with folic acid.

But it turns out zinc may also be needed before conception to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

Researchers in the college have found that female mice deprived of dietary zinc for a relatively short time before conception experienced a high incidence of pregnancy loss, and embryos from the zinc-deficient diet group were an average of 38 percent smaller than those from the control group. Preconception zinc deficiency also caused approximately half of embryos to exhibit delayed or aberrant development.

The findings, published in a recent edition of Biology of Reproduction, provide evidence for the importance of preconception zinc in promoting optimal fertility and embryo, fetal, and placenta development, explained study author Francisco Diaz, assistant professor of reproductive biology.

Diaz noted that the research and follow-up studies may result in a recommendation for women intending to get pregnant to make a special effort to eat foods containing zinc in the weeks prior to ovulation, or even to take zinc supplements. Foods containing higher levels of zinc include meats, seafood, and milk. Fruits and vegetables contain lower amounts of the mineral.

—Jeff Mulhollem