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  • Johnny Roberts

Nutritional needs during pregnancy

As you probably know, your body goes through lots of physical and hormonal changes during pregnancy. To fuel yourself and your growing baby, you’ll need to make great food choices from a variety of sources.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help you feel good and provide everything you and your baby need. The food you eat is your baby’s main source of nourishment, so it’s critical to get all of the nutrients you need.

Here are some general guidelines on a few important nutrients that will need to be adjusted based on your needs:

Calcium - A micronutrient that helps build your baby’s bones and regulates your body’s use of fluids. It does a body good, right?

Pregnant women need 1,000 mg of calcium, ideally in two doses of 500 mg, per day. You’ll likely need additional calcium to supplement regular prenatal vitamins.

Good sources of calcium include:

  • milk

  • yogurt

  • cheese

  • low-mercury fish and seafood, such as salmon, shrimp, catfish, and canned light tuna

  • calcium-set tofu

  • dark green, leafy vegetables

Folate - A micronutrient also known as folic acid, plays an important part in reducing the risk of neural tube defects. These are major birth defects that affect the baby’s brain and spinal cord, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

When you’re pregnant, the recommended daily dose is between 600 to 800 mcg of folate per day.

Good sources of folate include:

  • liver

  • nuts

  • dried beans and lentils

  • eggs

  • nuts and peanut butter

  • dark green, leafy vegetables

Iron - A micronutrient that works with sodium, potassium, and water to increase blood flow. This helps ensure that enough oxygen is supplied to both you and your baby.

You should be getting 27 mg of iron per day, preferably alongside some vitamin C to increase absorption.

Good sources of this nutrient include:

  • dark green, leafy vegetables

  • citrus fruits

  • enriched breads or cereals

  • lean beef and poultry

  • eggs

Protein - A macronutrient that is critical for ensuring the proper growth of baby’s tissues and organs, including the brain. It also helps with breast and uterine tissue growth during pregnancy.

It even plays a role in your increasing blood supply, allowing more blood to be sent to your baby. Your protein needs increase during each trimester of pregnancy. Research suggests that protein intake during pregnancy should be even higher than some current recommendations. You'll need anywhere between 70-100 grams per day.

Good sources of protein include:

  • lean beef and pork

  • chicken

  • salmon

  • nuts

  • peanut butter

  • cottage cheese

  • beans

Most pregnant women can meet these increased nutritional needs by choosing a diet that includes a variety of healthy foods such as:

  • protein

  • complex carbohydrates

  • healthy types of fat like omega-3s

  • vitamins and minerals

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