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Key Nutrients During Pregnancy


“What to eat while pregnant?” is a common question that just about every first-time expecting mother has asked. During pregnancy, your nutritional needs change dramatically. This is to be expected, considering the fact that one is now eating for two, three, four, or even more. In essence, the best way to ensure that you’re taking in all of the necessary, key nutrients during pregnancy, is to eat a healthy, varied diet. In addition to that, there are also some supplements that one can take to help ensure proper nutrition. In this article we’ll discuss some of the key nutrients during pregnancy, some of the best and worst pregnancy foods, dieting while pregnant, pregnancy supplements. 

Key Nutrients During Pregnancy

The top nutrients that you should have on your radar include: Iron, Iodine, Zinc,Vitamin B9* Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Fiber.

Pregnancy can severely deplete a mother’s iron stores. Low iron levels in early pregnancy have been linked to premature birth, as well as low birth weight. The average iron intake requirement for a pregnant woman is 27mg a day. To achieve this, it’s best to consume a mixed diet of animal and plant foods. While also being a good source of protein and zinc, red meats are the best source of iron. Iron can also be found in chicken and fish, leafy greens, legumes, and iron enriched cereals.

Vitamin B9 is an extremely important nutrient. Adequate intake of Vitamin B9 can help to prevent birth defects in one’s baby. Vitamin B9 can be split into different forms, “Folate” and “Folic Acid”. Folate and Folic acid are nutrients whose terms are quite often used interchangeably. Whilst similar, Folate and Folic Acid are not the same thing. Both are forms of Vitamin B9. Folate is naturally occurring, whilst folic acid is synthetic. Often times, mothers are told to take supplements with folic acid for pregnancy, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Folic acid for pregnancy, is able to provide the same benefits as Folate, it’s naturally occurring counterpart. It just might not be as effective, depending on the person. The better way to ensure that one is taking in enough vitamin B9 is to ensure that one is eating a good amount of leafy greens.

Iodine is another important nutrient during pregnancy. It’s essential to the production of thyroid hormone, which regulates body temperature, metabolism, reproduction, growth, blood cell production and nerve/muscle function. Good sources of iodine include fortified bread, seafood* milk, and vegetables.

Zinc, yet another important nutrient, helps to maintain protein structure and regulate gene expression. Zinc can be found in lean meats, wholegrain cereals, milk, seafood*, legumes and nuts.

Vitamin C is an important nutrient because it helps promote the formation of collagen, which is especially important in the formation of blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps you to absorb the iron in your diet. Good sources of vitamin C include fruits and vegetable.

Vitamin D helps to regulate calcium and phosphate levels in the body. The regulation of these levels is needed to help promote healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D can be found in sun exposure, oily fish* fortified margarines, and taramasalata. 

Calcium is a vital nutrient for the formation of your baby’s bones and teeth. Calcium can be found in various breakfast cereals, figs and apricots, bread, almonds, tofu and green leafy vegetables.

Fiber is another important nutrient in pregnancy, for it helps to prevent constipation. A lot of women experience constipation in the later parts of their pregnancy. Consuming fiber while pregnant, combined with plenty of fluids can help to prevent this. Fiber can be found in wholegrain breads, wholegrain cereals, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

Pregnancy Diet First Trimester

“Pregnancy Diet First Trimester” is an extremely common search term for pregnant women looking to start off their pregnancy diet on the right foot. If you’re in the first trimester of your pregnancy, it’s suggested that you don’t increase your caloric intake just yet (that comes in the second trimester). That being said, you should still aspire to eat a healthy, well-rounded diet, making sure to include all of the nutrients listed above.

Seafood During Pregnancy

There’s a common misconception that pregnant women shouldn’t eat any seafood during pregnancy. That, however, isn’t exactly the case. If pregnant, one shouldn’t actually give up seafood altogether. Fish contains necessary fats, known as omega-3 fats, that are essential to the development of one’s baby. One should just limit their consumption of fish to no more than 12oz. A week, and avoid shark, swordfish, mackerel, and tilefish. The consumption of shellfish is completely fine as long as they are thoroughly cooked.

Dieting While Pregnant

During pregnancy, one should NEVER attempt to go on any special sort of diet plan, without first consulting a pregnancy dietician. A pregnancy dietician can help to ensure that your diet plan contains all of the necessary nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy.

The Best and Worst Pregnancy Foods

During pregnancy you’d like to eat a wide variety of foods. Some of the best foods you can eat include: fortified breakfast cereals, dried beans and lentils, bananas, broccoli, nonfat milk, lean meat, leafy greens, oatmeal, whole grains, oranges, nuts and nut butters, soy, dried fruits, figs, chives, leeks, artichokes, basil, yogurt, and herring.

Foods that you’d want to avoid during pregnancy include: processed meat, eggs, offal, caffeine, swordfish, mackerel, albacore, raw sprouts, any unwashed produce, raw eggs, raw shellfish, unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, pate, and alcohol.

The Takeaway

All in all, the best way to ensure that you intake all of the necessary nutrients you need during pregnancy is to eat a varied, well-balanced diet. Necessary nutrients during pregnancy include: Iron, Iodine, Zinc,Vitamin B9* Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Fiber. And always be sure to consult with a pregnancy dietician to ensure that you and your baby’s dietary needs are met.

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