It is the fact that when you are pregnant, you are eating for two. Your diet during pregnancy affects your baby’s health. As a basic rule, fresh is the best; therefore, you should get more fruit, vegetables, seafood, dairy products and cereals into your diet to boost intake of various vitamins and minerals.
Here is a list of 8 key vitamins and nutrients that are essential for you and your baby.
According to nutritionists, the average requirement for zinc for a pregnant woman is 9mg/day; however, the number can be varied slightly to suit different physical conditions. Some pregnant women may need 11mg/day or even more. Getting enough amount of zinc is extremely significant for the rapid cell and tissue growth of unborn baby. The reason is that zinc is a component of many enzyme types which maintain structural integrity of proteins and help regulate gene expression.
Yogurt is a good source of zinc
Yogurt is packed with zinc, which helps create DNA (the bricks of baby’s genetic roadmap). Moreover, calcium in Yogurt can help baby’s bone growth and keep your bones stronger.
Other good sources of zinc are milk, lean meat, seafood, wholegrain cereals, legumes and nuts.
2. Folic Acid
Women should take 400 micrograms of this B vitamin everyday at least three months before they want to get pregnant. An adequate folate intake helps prevent birth defects of a baby’s brain and spine, such as spina bifida by 50 percent to 70 percent. The amount should be increased to 600 micrograms as soon as your pregnancy is confirmed.
Natural foods rich in folate include leafy greens and beans. These foods can keep you nourished throughout pregnancy.
Avocados are a natural food packed with folic acid.
Leafy greens like kale are rich in folic acid.
3. Omega 3
One of the most important things you should do for your developing baby’s health is getting appropriate intake of DHA.
DHA is the omega-3 fatty acid that is necessary to develop your baby’s brain. Thanks to this acid, your child should express his better vision, memory and language comprehension in his early childhood. You can safely take DHA from eating low-mercury fish or using a DHA supplement.
The best source of DHA is from salmon. Recent research shows that moms can boost their babies’ brainpower through eating fish more often. Salmon is proved to be low in mercury, but pregnant women are recommended to take only 12 ounces/ week.
Salmon is the best source of DHA .
During pregnancy, the average requirement for iron nearly doubles to about 30 milligrams per day, to support your 50 percent increase in blood volume and promote fetal iron storage. In early pregnancy, lack of iron supply may result in premature birth and low birth weight. A diet that is the combination between animal and plant foods can provide you with enough iron intakes. It is also shown that absorption of iron is better from animal foods compared to plant sources.
Red meat is the greatest source of iron; besides, it is loaded with protein and zinc. Thus, a pregnant woman can find different nutrition sources from just only one type of food – red meat. Other meats like chicken and fish also contain iron but not as much as red meat.
Iron is found in leafy green vegetables, legumes and iron-enriched breakfast cereals. In contrast, tea, coffee and unprocessed bran can inhibit iron absorption.
Red meat, which is the greatest source of iron, is rich in protein and zinc.
5. Vitamin C
A pregnant woman needs to take 40mg of Vitamin C/day but because of individual variation, some women may need 60mg/day or more. Larger blood volume in the body of the mother and the growth of the unborn baby increase the need for vitamin C during pregnancy. In addition, vitamin C plays a crucial role in the formation of collagen which is important in blood vessels.
Oranges are the best source of vitamin C, which increases immunity.
The required amount of Iodine is quite small (the recommended intake is 220µg/ day for pregnant women). Nevertheless, Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormone, which regulates body temperature, reproduction, metabolic rate, blood cell production, growth, nerve and muscle function. Thyroid hormone is produced in the thyroid gland, which is in the neck.
Iodine can be found in foods such as milk, seafood, and vegetables.
Iodine can be found in seafood.
A high fiber intake from eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains helps prevent constipation especially during the later parts of pregnancy. High-fiber foods are also contained with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals significant to your baby’s development. Moreover, fiber foods tend to make you feel full longer, so you are less likely to overeat.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains are rich in fiber.
Calcium is necessary for the growth and maintenance of strong teeth and bones of your unborn baby. The average requirement for calcium during pregnancy is 1,000 milligrams a day. High calcium foods include dried herds, cheese, almonds, yogurt, milk, other dairy products and green leafy vegetables (turnip, mustard, and dandelion greens, collards, kale).
Dairy products are loaded with calcium which is necessary for the growth and maintenance of babies’ strong teeth and bones.
There are a few types of foods which should not be taken during pregnancy as they could potentially cause problems for the future health of your baby:
Foods containing bacterium Listeria: unpasteurised milk, soft cheeses, sushi, uncooked ‘deli’ style meats, and milk products
Foods high in mercury: raw fish and predatory fish (shark, swordfish and barramundi)
Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided.
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