Pregnancy Diet: Best Foods to Eat During Pregnancy
Maintaining your health during pregnancy is very important. Your body needs additional nutrition and complete vitamins and minerals to keep you and your baby healthy. You also need to consume more calories when you are pregnant, especially during the second and third trimester. Always remember that your baby’s key development fully depends on how you maintain your health and consuming healthy, nutritious foods.
Nutrients and Vitamins for Pregnancy
According to leading doctors and experts, pregnant women today should consume a variety of foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Having the right amount of nutrients in the body will help promote the development of the baby and the overall health of the mother.
- Which Nutrients and Vitamins the Baby Needs
Your baby’s proper growth and development are very important. This is the main reason why you need to have a balanced diet that meets the daily requirements for most nutrients. You can get most of the nutrients in this list by consuming healthy foods, but your doctor may also provide supplements or prenatal vitamins. Always consult your doctor before you take any additional supplements or vitamins.
Here are the essential vitamins and minerals that your baby needs for proper growth and development.
- Calcium – it helps in the baby’s development of stronger teeth and bones, and healthier heart, muscles, and nerves. Calcium can also promote normal heart rhythm. Some of the food sources of calcium are milk, cheese, and dairy products. The daily recommended amount for adult pregnant women is 1,000 mg.
- Chromium – it helps in the building of proteins within the growing tissues of your baby. It also regulates the blood sugar levels. Some of the food sources include whole wheat, broccoli, and turkey. The daily recommended amount is 30 mcg.
- Choline – it promotes better brain development for your baby. Choline is also needed to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Some of its food sources include eggs, chicken, and canned pink salmon. The daily recommended amount is 450 mg.
- Copper – it helps in the development of the baby’s heart, arteries, blood vessels, and the skeletal and nervous system. You can find this mineral in beef liver, lentils, and cashew. The recommended daily amount is 1 mg.
- Iodine – it helps in the proper development of the brain and the nervous system. It also regulates metabolism. Some of the food sources for iodine include milk, potato, beans, cod, and shrimp. The recommended daily amount is 220 mcg.
- Folic acid – it is very important in the DNA production and also reduces the risk of birth defects. You can find it in lentils and asparagus. The daily recommended amount is at least 600 mcg.
- Iron – it helps in building the cartilage and connective tissues of the baby. It also promotes energy and growth. You can find them in beef, lentils, prune juice, and canned tuna. The daily recommended amount is 27 mg.
- Magnesium – it helps the baby to have stronger teeth and bones. Its food sources include brown rice, spinach, and all-bran cereal. The daily recommended amount is 350 mg.
- Phosphorus – it helps the baby have strong bones and normal heart rhythm. It also promotes the development of blood clotting and normal kidney function. Its food sources include lentils, cheese, nonfat milk, and Chinook salmon. The daily recommended amount is 700 mg.
- Riboflavin – it promotes better eyesight, growth, and healthy skin for the baby. It is also important for the development of the nerves, muscles, and bones. Its food sources include almonds, milk, spinach, and salmon.
- Thiamine – it helps in brain development of the baby. It also promotes the normal function of the heart, nervous system, and muscles. Some of its food sources include pork, rice, pasta, eggs, and orange. Its RDA is 1.4 mg.
- Vitamin A – it is important for the development of the baby’s eyes, bones, respiratory, circulatory, and nervous system. Some of its food sources include carrots, sweet potato, and spinach. The recommended daily allowance is 770 mcg RAE.
- Vitamin B6 – it helps the baby in developing the brain and nervous system, and form new red blood cells. Some of its food sources include wild salmon, potato, banana, and avocado. Its daily recommended amount is 1.9 mg.
- Vitamin C – it is important in making collagen, which is a critical component in the baby’s bones, tendons, skin, and cartilage. Its food sources include orange juice, strawberries, red pepper, and broccoli. The recommended daily amount is 85 mg.
- Zinc – it helps boost cell growth, which is important for the DNA production. Its food sources include nonfat yogurt, chicken, and beef. The recommended daily requirement is 11 mg.
- Which Nutrients and Vitamins the Mom Needs In Order to Stay Healthy
Having a balanced diet is a critical factor when you want to receive all the necessary nutrients. Doctors may also prescribe prenatal vitamins and/or mineral supplements depending on their findings. However, it has to be emphasized that vitamin supplements should always be accompanied with a healthy diet. Supplements are given to ensure that you are receiving enough daily nutrients. Vitamin supplements should only be taken if it is recommended and prescribed by your obstetrician and gynecologist.
You should talk to your health care provider regarding your diet and if there are any concerns about nutritional deficiencies. It is also important to know if you are already exceeding the daily recommended dosage of vitamins and minerals because it could lead to overdose and toxicity.
Here are the essential vitamins and minerals the mother needs to take during your pregnancy:
- Vitamin A and Beta Carotene – it will help promote the strength and growth of your teeth and bones. They are found in eggs, liver, carrots, milk, broccoli, potatoes, and yellow fruits. The recommended daily maximum amount is 1,000 mcg.
- Vitamin C – it will help build a strong immune system for the mother and allows better absorption of iron. You can find high levels of vitamin C in citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, bell pepper, and papaya. The recommended daily maximum amount is 2,000 mg.
- Vitamin D – it helps the body use phosphorus and calcium efficiently. It also promotes stronger bones and teeth. You can get them from fatty fish, milk, and exposure to the sunshine. The recommended daily maximum amount is 4,000 IU.
- Vitamin E – it promotes better use of the red blood cells and muscles. You can get them from wheat germ, vegetable oil, spinach, and nuts. The recommended daily maximum amount is 1,000 mg.
- Thiamin – it gives you more energy and regulates the nervous system. You can get them in rice, eggs, pasta, nuts, berries, pork, legumes, and whole grain. The recommended daily amount is 1.4 mg.
- Niacin – it can promote healthier skin and nerves, and aids in digestion. You can get them in high protein foods, meats, milk, peanuts, eggs, and fish. The recommended daily maximum amount is 35 mg.
- Riboflavin – it helps maintain your energy, healthy skin, and better eyesight. They can be found in fish, meat, dairy products, poultry, and eggs.
- Pyridoxine – it promotes the better formation of red blood cells and helps lessen morning sickness. You can find them in pork, chicken, liver, fish, cabbage, carrots, bananas, broccoli, beans, walnuts, oats, brown rice, bran, peas, and cantaloupe. The recommended daily maximum amount is 100 mg.
Best Foods to Eat During Pregnancy
Now that you have some insight into the nutrient requirements you and your baby needs, you need to know the different foods you should consume during your pregnancy. These foods contain the vitamins, minerals and other nutritional benefits that will help maintain and boost your overall health and the proper development of the baby.
Eggs are very rich in protein, which is an essential nutrient during pregnancy. Aside from its multitude of vitamins and minerals, eggs also contain Choline, which promotes the proper development of the baby’s brain and bones and helps lower the risk of neural tube defects. It is the perfect breakfast food that can be cooked in a variety of ways.
Beans are rich in fiber, which can help the mother ease pregnancy discomforts by treating constipation and hemorrhoids. It is also a good source of folic acid, iron, protein, potassium, fatty acids, and magnesium.
Salmon contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that are good for you and your baby. It can help promote the development of your baby’s health and elevate your mood. Among other seafood, salmon has the lowest mercury content. It is encouraged for pregnant women to consume at least 8 to 12 ounces of seafood each week.
Sweet potatoes are very rich in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A when consumed. Your baby needs vitamin A for healthier development and the growth of important cells and tissues. Doctors also advise pregnant women to increase their intake of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of folic acid, fiber, and vitamin C. All you need is 100 to 150 grams of cooked sweet potatoes to complete your recommended daily intake of vitamin A.
Pregnant women need to include whole grains in their diet because it is rich in fiber, vitamin E, and selenium. They also contain high levels of B-vitamins and magnesium, which are usually lacking in a mother’s diet. Different types of whole grains include oats, buckwheat, barley, and spelled.
Avocados are one of the best sources of monounsaturated fatty acids or healthy fats. This superfruit is also rich in potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, B-vitamins, and copper. The healthy fats in avocados can lower the risk of neural tube defects and helps build the tissues, skin, and brain of the baby. Potassium is also good for the mother because it can help relieve leg cramps.
Berries are a great snack for pregnant women since they contain both fiber and water. They are not only nutritious but very delicious too, with only a few calories. Berries are rich in vitamin C, which can help absorb iron in the body and promote healthy skin and immunity.
When it comes to yogurt, the best choice is Greek yogurt because it contains twice the protein. It is also rich in calcium and probiotics. Mothers need calcium to maintain strong bones during pregnancy, and it is also needed for the growth of the bones of the baby. It is a great breakfast food, and it can also be added to different dishes.
Fish Liver Oil
Fish liver oil is mostly found in the oily liver of the cod. It is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential in the development of the eyes and brain of the baby. Research has found that consuming cod liver oil during pregnancy is closely associated with healthier birth weight and lower risk of disease as the baby grows up. Just one tablespoon of fish liver oil can provide you with the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids. However, it is dangerous to consume more than one tablespoon per day because too much vitamin A can be harmful to the baby.
Lean meat such as chicken, pork, and beef are very rich in high-quality protein that is very much needed during pregnancy. Beef and pork also contain high levels of choline, iron, and B-vitamins. Pregnant women need high amounts of iron because their blood volume increases, especially during their third trimester. Low levels of iron can result in anemia, which might increase the risk of premature birth and low birth weight.
Dark Leafy Vegetables
Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are considered as a superfood for pregnant women. They are very rich in folic acid, vitamins A, K, and C. Broccoli and other leafy vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants that can boost the immune system and digestion. Their high fiber content can also help pregnant women ease their problems with constipation.