Essential Nutrients During Pregnancy

yogurt and muslixMaking sure that you only eat the right foods is perhaps the most important thing that you can do for your unborn baby. The basics of good nutrition are also the basics of nutrition during pregnancy. To give your child the health he or she needs, it is very crucial that you eat varieties of foods and that you eat the right combinations. Basically, the key to nutrition during pregnancy is a balanced diet.

There is certainly no hocus pocus for pregnancy nutrition. As a matter of fact, basic concepts of and guidelines for healthy eating apply whether you are pregnant or not – lots of vegetables, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, as well as lean protein sources. Several nutrients deserve special attention: calcium, iron, protein, and folate and folic acid.

Calcium

Both you and the baby need calcium to strengthen your teeth and bones. It helps your muscular, nervous, and circulatory systems run smoothly. If you lack calcium, your baby will get the calcium he or she needs from your bones. You need about 1,000 milligrams of calcium everyday. Dairy products are the best sources of calcium. Several breakfast cereals and fruit juices are also fortified with calcium.

Iron

Iron is needed for the production of hemoglobin, a protein found in your red blood cells. Hemoglobin supplies oxygen to your body’s tissues. When you are pregnant, blood volume significantly expands to accommodate the many changes in your physiology, and your unborn child needs to make an entire blood supply for himself/herself.

This means that during pregnancy, your iron requirement doubles. If you lack enough iron, expect fatigue and infections. Lack of iron may also increase the risk of low birth weight and premature delivery. All in all, you need 27 milligrams a day. Fish, poultry, and lean red meat, are rich sources of iron. Other alternatives are dried fruits, nuts, and breakfast cereals fortified with iron.

Folate/Folic acid

A B vitamin, folate helps in preventing critical abnormalities of the spinal cord and brain and defects in neural tube. When you lack folate, the risk of premature delivery, poor fetal growth, and low birth weight also becomes higher. You need to have about 1 milligram a day. Fortified breakfast cereals are very rich in folic acid. Folic acid is folate’s synthetic form commonly found in fortified foods and food supplements. Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and dried peas and beans are also rich in naturally occurring folate.

Protein

Protein is vital not only to your health but also to the growth of your baby. Protein becomes especially important during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. What is good about protein is that it helps cell repairs as your body undergoes significant changes. You need 71 grams of protein everyday. Eggs, fish, poultry, and lean meat are all rich in protein. You can also eat tofu, peanut butter, dairy products, and dried peas and beans.

What to avoid

The US Food and Drug Administration encourages expecting mothers to avoid eating fish that has too much mercury in it as it may damage the baby’s nervous system. Examples are king mackerel, tilefish, and swordfish. Pregnant women are also discouraged to eat unpasteurized dairy products since they may cause food-borne disease. Foods high in caffeine must also be avoided as caffeine can reach the placenta, affecting the baby’s breathing and heart rate. Alcohol must also be avoided.