Nutrition in Pregnancy
It’s already important to obtain sufficient nutrients and macromolecules* when you are not pregnant but eating for two (or more) increases the need for reaching certain milestones in your day-to-day eating habits. Making sure you adjust your nutrition during pregnancy plays a vital role in inciting, supporting and boosting your baby’s growth.
Furthermore, although cravings may be frequent and possibly erratic, it is important to try to stay away from foods with a high “empty” caloric value. This refers to foods that are high in calories but very low in nutrient, don’t tend to keep you full for very long, and generally foods that contain solid fats (meaning fats that are in a solid state at room temperature) and added sugars, for example, pastries, pizza, soda, candies and hot dogs.
Vitamins and minerals play an especially crucial role for healthy fetal growth.
Folic Acid is a vitamin found in some vegetables especially dark leafy greens (e.g spinach, collard greens, broccoli, asparagus) as well as fruits, especially citruses (e.g oranges, grapefruit, papaya) beans, peas and lentils, corn and cereals, rice and pastas.
Its consumption during pregnancy is stressed due to its ability to significantly reduce the chance of major birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects (NTD). According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), women need at least 400 micrograms of this vitamin a day to prevent these defects but 600 micrograms are recommended. Folic acid is also usually a component of prenatal vitamins which should be taken to supplement nutrition.
Iron is a mineral that assists in the efficient transport of oxygen throughout our body with the ultimate goal of producing energy as well as removing carbon dioxide (waste). Since pregnancy involves two (or more) bodies, iron intake should be just about doubled to ensure enough oxygenated blood is reaching your baby. According to ACOG, pregnant women should consume about 27mg of iron on a daily basis and it can be found in lean meats (including both red and white meats), beans and peas, iron-fortified cereals, and prune juice as well as most prenatal vitamins.
Calcium is a mineral vital to the development and strengthening of your baby’s bones and teeth. While dairy products are ideal sources of calcium, the daily recommended amount of at least 1000mg a day can also be obtained through the consumption of broccoli, dark green leafy greens, sardines or a calcium supplement (including most prenatal vitamins).
Vitamin D is essential for the healthy development of the skin, eyesight and works closely with calcium to promote bone and teeth strength. Vitamin D deficiency is fairly common but become increasingly dangerous. ACOG recommends pregnant women consume 600 units on a daily basis.
Lodine is a critical micronutrient that regulates metabolism as well as thyroid function which in turn regulates the secretion of important hormones that act on both the mother and the baby. This nutrient is especially crucial in early weeks when the baby is not yet able to produce these thyroid hormones on his/her own. Iodine-rich foods include seaweeds, wild fish, dairy, eggs, lima beans and some fruits and vegetables. Daily consumption should reach anywhere from 220-250mcg.