Key Nutrition during Pregnancy

Healthy eating is important during pregnancy. Good eating habit is needed to meet the additional demands on your body as well as those of your growing baby. Good nutrition during pregnancy improves your chances of having a healthy baby. It can also reduce the risk of certain fatal diseases in your child long after he has grown. Therefore it is important to monitor, evaluate and make change when necessary to improve maternal nutrition both before and during pregnancy.  A mother must choose a variety of healthy foods and beverages to provide the essential nutrients a baby needs for growth and development.

A pregnant woman needs more calcium, folic acid, protein and iron than a woman who is not pregnant. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the four nutrients important during pregnancy are:

Folic Acid

Folic acid also known as folate, is a B vitamin that is crucial for pregnant women. Women who are trying to have a baby must take a daily vitamin supplement containing 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of folic acid per day for at least one month before pregnancy to avoid major birth defects of the baby’s brain spinal cord called neural tube defects. During pregnancy, the amount can be increased to 600 micrograms a day from all sources, including food and vitamin supplements. Many foods contain folic acid, such as dark green leafy vegetables, fortified or enriched cereals, bread and pasta, citrus fruits, peanuts and beans. 

However, it is not possible to get all of the folic acid a woman need from food alone. To ensure she is getting appropriate, pregnant women should select a daily vitamin supplement that contains enough folic acid. Most of the prenatal multivitamin supplements contain 600–800 micrograms of folic acid.

Iron

Iron is important for the body to make a substance in red blood cells that are needed to make more blood to supply the baby with oxygen. A woman requires more iron during pregnancy than she did before pregnancy. Normally, pregnant women need 27 milligrams of iron a day which is found in most prenatal vitamin supplements.

Not having enough iron during pregnancy can lead to anemia, a condition resulting in fatigue and an increased risk of infections and also the risk of certain problems, including preterm delivery and having a low-birth-weight baby. Good sources of Iron are animal foods, such as red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas and iron-fortified cereal. 

Calcium

Calcium is a mineral important for the building of baby’s bones and teeth. This will be drawn from the mother’s stores in her bones and given to the baby to meet the extra demands of pregnancy, if a pregnant woman does not take enough calcium. Pregnant women age 19 and over should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, pregnant teens, ages 14 to 18, require 1,300 milligrams daily. Good sources of Calcium are milk and other dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, calcium-fortified juices and foods, some leafy greens and sardines or salmon with bones.

Protein

Additional amount of protein is required during pregnancy. Protein is a builder nutrient, as it helps to build brain and heart in the baby. Poultry products, meat, fish dried beans and peas are good sources of Protein. SOURCE: selfgrowth.com

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