Disclaimer: The following information has not been approved by the FDA. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice and is not a substitute for a visit with a medical care professional. Always speak to your doctor about any health concerns.
Pregnancy can be such a beautiful time in your life, but it can also be a stressful period, due to the amount of conflicting information on what to eat, how much, and what vitamins to take. Often women think that pregnancy means “eating for two.” This is partially correct, as you are now growing another human, but this does not mean eating double the amount of food for two grown adults.
During pregnancy, there are a handful of vitamins and minerals that are crucial to the health of yourself as well as your baby and should, therefore, be increased through diet or supplementation.
Pregnant women need 25 grams extra protein, 800 milligrams extra calcium, 400 micrograms extra folate/folic acid, 12 milligrams extra iron, and 600 milligrams extra DHA.
Protein is a macronutrient which is one of the building blocks of your growing baby. Increasing your protein is important because every part of you is growing — your uterus, stomach, placenta, breasts. And you are now carrying a baby which will require a tremendous amount of protein!
You need this building block to properly grow and nourish your growing body and baby. Protein is found in a variety of foods, including meat, seafood, nuts, beans, eggs, and dairy products, but you can also get it from high-quality protein powders.
Calcium is not only important nutrient to help your baby grow and develop healthy bones, but it is also a vital supplement that helps the heart and other muscles contract. It’s imperative that you get enough calcium because if you are not getting enough in your diet, your body will actually take from your calcium stores to grow your baby, leaving you depleted. This can cause osteoporosis in the future. Calcium can be found in dairy products, spinach, kale, broccoli, and fortified orange juice.
Folate is an important B vitamin that is crucial not only during pregnancy but also even before you become pregnant. Folate helps prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida as well as severe abnormalities of the brain and spine. It’s also used by the body to produce new hemoglobin, which is what carries oxygen throughout the body. Folate can be found in dark leafy greens, asparagus, avocado, bean, peas, lentils, and citrus fruits.
Iron is an vital compound that your body uses to make extra blood during pregnancy, and it’s iron that carries the oxygen to your whole body — as well as your baby. Your blood volume increases by about 50% when you’re pregnant, so it’s very important to consume iron-rich foods to prevent anemia. Iron can be found in red meat, pork, poultry, seafood, peas, dried fruit, dark leafy greens, and iron-fortified foods such as cereal, bread, and pasta.
DHA is an Omega 3 fatty acid, which is important for the healthy brain development of your baby. Omega 3’s are broken down into ALA, EPA, and DHA. ALA is converted into the DHA that we need, however, even if you’re consuming large amounts of food that contain ALA (fish, flax seed, chia seeds), it’s probably not enough to create the amount of DHA that you need during pregnancy. Take a prenatal vitamin that contains DHA or take a separate fish oil supplement.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, nutrients that you may need to supplement are vitamin B12, zinc, and vitamin B2, or riboflavin.
A lot of women may not be able to eat the recommended amount of food during pregnancy due to nausea. If this is you, taking prenatal vitamins and pregnancy supplements is a great idea. Having a good understanding of what your growing body needs will help you feel more confident during your pregnancy and lead to a healthier pregnancy and healthier baby.
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Andrea Short is a Maternity Nutrition & Wellness Specialist as well as a Pre & Postnatal Fitness Specialist. She guides and supports women during all stages of their pregnancy with nutrition and exercise so they can feel their best, have a healthy weight gain, and reduce pregnancy symptoms and complications, which leads to a healthier mom and baby. She also works with postpartum women by supporting and guiding them with nutrition and exercise, and helps them get back on track with their exercise program so they can feel confident, lose the baby weight, and get back to their pre baby body-or even become more fit than prior to baby. You can find her at www.andreashortwellness.com.
*Disclaimer: All information and recommendations given on this site, in email correspondence, newsletters or other materials provided by The Healthy Place is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice nor be viewed as a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider. Consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before modifying, stopping, or starting the use of any medications, health programs, diets, and/or supplements, as well as regarding any health concerns you may have. Our statements and information have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As with any health-related program, product, or service, your risks and results may vary. We expressly disclaim responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the information provided to you here.”