Essential Nutrients for Pregnancy
While eating for two* is not recommended, a good diet is essential during pregnancy. It can be confusing to know just what to eat with all the dietary advice (solicited and unsolicited) that come your way.
Here’s a list of essential nutrients to include in your diet:
1. Folic acid
Folic acid is crucial because low amounts cause a congenital condition called spina bifida in the foetus. Include at least 400 micrograms of folic acid in your diet a day.
Source: Green vegetables, nuts and legumes. Recommended: Take a prenatal vitamin. Most will contain 400-800 micrograms of folic acid.
Adequate amounts of calcium have been shown to decrease complications during pregnancy. Take double your usual dose while pregnant.
Sources: Dairy and soy products, green vegetables.
There is a positive association between a mother’s iron status and her infant’s birth weight, so take enough of it.
Sources: Red meat, organ meats, almonds, figs and egg yolk.
4. Healthy Fats
They play an important role during pregnancy because of the rapid cell growth of new tissues and new organ systems in the developing foetus. DHA, in particular, is an important component of the foetus’ brain.
Sources: Salmon, anchovies, sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. (Recommended: take a DHA prenatal supplement)
The foetus requires adequate amounts of protein to sustain continued growth. Protein should form a significant portion of a meal (at least 1/3).
Sources: Animal products (meat, fish, eggs, dairy), legumes, soy, quinoa.
*Calorie intake should be 2,300 kcal/day during pregnancy. But your best guide in terms of quantity is to eat when hungry and stop when you’re full.