Getting your daily dose of essential nutrients is one of the best things you can do to support your growing baby and lower your ʀɪsᴋ of pregnancy ᴄᴏᴍᴘʟɪᴄᴀᴛɪᴏɴs. Luckily, filling your plate with a plethora of nutrients is easy, and the chances are, you’re already eating plenty of top pregnancy foods like lean protein, whole grains, and produce.
Most pregnancy nutrition requirements are the same as they were pre-pregnancy, with a few minor tweaks. Here’s your guide to all the essential nutrients you’ll need during pregnancy and beyond – and the best foods to put on your plate.
Calcium, iron, folic acid, protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and vitamin C are the 7 essential daily nutrients for women during pregnancy.
A developing baby needs calcium to build healthy bones and teeth. Calcium also helps a baby grow a healthy heart. Vitamin D will also be required as it aids the absorption of calcium from the stomach.
Foods that are rich in calcium include salmon, broccoli, kale, and yogurt.
Iron is essential to make hemoglobin in the red blood cells. During pregnancy, the amount of ʙʟᴏᴏᴅ in your body increases by about 50% to meet the needs of the healthy development of the growing baby. Getting too little iron during pregnancy can lead to ᴀɴᴇᴍɪᴀ, a common problem during pregnancy that can result in ꜰᴀᴛɪɢᴜᴇ and an increased ʀɪsᴋ of infection.
Red meat is rich in iron.
- Vitamin C
Pregnant women will need 85mg of vitamin C. However, pregnant women are advised not to take vitamin C supplements because there is concern that taking vitamin C supplements may increase the ʀɪsᴋ of preterm birth.
Fruits, especially citrus fruits, are especially high in vitamin C, but leafy greens and many other fruits and vegetables are also excellent sources. Choose fresh foods as your source of vitamin C because heat can ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴏʏ this vitamin.
- Folic acid
Folic acid is also known as folate. It is a B vitamin that is crucial in helping to prevent birth ᴅᴇꜰᴇᴄᴛs in the baby’s brain and spine, which are also known as neural tube ᴅᴇꜰᴇᴄᴛs.
Most gynecologists recommend that pregnant women take a daily vitamin supplement containing 600 micrograms of folic acid, an amount commonly found in a regular prenatal vitamin.
Food that is rich in folic acid includes leafy green vegetables, fortified or enriched cereals, bread, and pasta.
More protein is needed during pregnancy. Protein is the building block of our body’s cells. It is especially important to have enough protein in the second and third trimesters as the baby is growing faster during these periods.
Food that is rich in protein includes meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, eggs, nuts, and tofu.
- Whole Grain
Whole grains supply key nutrients such as B vitamins, which are essential for fetal development.
Fibers from whole grains can help to prevent constipation during pregnancy.
- Healthy fat
Not all fats are bad. Eating certain fatty foods while pregnant can actually be vital to your growing baby as the right kinds help to fuel proper brain growth and eye development, particularly during the third trimester.
Food sources of healthy fats include nuts like almonds, walnuts, and fish like salmon.
You must pay close attention to what you eat during pregnancy because it directly affects the growth of your baby. Just as important as focusing on what you need to eat is knowing what to avoid during pregnancy. For example, you must stay away from ᴀʟᴄᴏʜᴏʟ at any cost. Similarly, caffeine is something that you must avoid. Other than that, focus on obtaining nutrition through a balanced diet rather than worrying about every single meal.