Pregnancy Diet: Top 4 Nutrients You and Your Baby Need
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Published by TOP4 Team
A woman’s body changes dramatically during pregnancy. Everything gets larger and more active: the uterus and its supporting muscles enlarge, the joints get more flexible in anticipation of childbirth and blood volume increases by as much as 60-80%. This only means that a healthy diet is crucial at this point of time.
If you’re pregnant now or planning to have a baby soon, here are a few nutrients you’ll need.
You don’t have to worry about getting too much of the B vitamins during pregnancy because these nutrients don’t accumulate in the body. Two B vitamins to focus on are folic acid (folate) and vitamin B12. Folic acid prevents birth defects called neural tube defects, while vitamin B12 aids in foetal metabolism and maintains healthy levels of red blood cells.
Foods with high folic acid content include fortified cereals, bread and pulses. Foods high in vitamin B12 are meats and fish. If you’ve had a baby with neural tube defects and you’re planning another pregnancy, your doctor may prescribe taking 400 micrograms of folic acid.
Vitamins A and D
Unlike B vitamins, your body accumulates vitamins A and D over time. The amount of these nutrients you should get in your prenatal supplement will depend on the amount you get in your diet. Squash and carrots are rich in vitamin A, while fatty fish and fortified milk are rich in vitamin D.
Pregnant women often have low calcium levels, which is essential for strengthening foetal bones. Calcium-rich foods include dark leafy green vegetables, cheese, low fat milk and yogurt, fortified tofu, okra, broccoli, green beans, almonds and canned fish with bones.
Pregnant women are sharing their blood supply with the growing foetus, and they require a large amount of iron in order to keep up with the increased demands for red blood cells. Even if you have a healthy diet, you have a high risk of becoming anaemic during pregnancy. Before your doctor gives you a prescription for prenatal nutrients, be sure to mention whether you’re eating a lot of iron-rich foods, such as red meat, liver or green leafy vegetables. This will help your doctor determine how much additional iron you’ll need.
Even if you eat a nutritious diet, it’s not always possible to get enough vitamins and minerals to supply your needs, as well as those of the baby-to-be. That’s why doctors usually advise women to take prenatal supplements during pregnancy.
Every woman needs different kinds of supplements, depending on her diet. If you’re a vegetarian, you may need a supplement with higher-than-usual amounts of iron or vitamin B12. On the other hand, if you’re eating a lot of meat or seafood, you should avoid high-iron supplements because you’ll probably get more than enough iron in your diet.
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