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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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5 Key Nutrients for Pregnant Women

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A pregnant woman eating grapes. While pregnancy is certainly a joyous time, it can also be a time full of stress and anxiety as you constantly wonder if you are doing everything right! Now that you are eating for two you want to make sure you are giving your baby all the proper nutrients it needs to grow and to be healthy. While there are many nutrients to consider during pregnancy, here are 5 key nutrients every woman she be sure they are getting for the next 9 months of pregnancy.

 

  • Folate (Folic Acid) plays an important role in the development of your baby’s spinal cord. You should aim to get 600 mcg each day, which your prenatal vitamin should provide. You can also get folate from your diet by eating foods like oranges, strawberries, beans, avocados, asparagus, lentils, and lots of dark green leafy vegetables.
  • Calcium helps regulate your blood pressure and helps build and maintain you and your baby’s bones. You should be getting about 1,000 mg of Calcium per day. Most prenatal vitamins only contain about 250 mg so it’s important to get an adequate amount from your diet as well. Good sources of calcium include dairy foods like milk, cheese, yogurt as well as calcium fortified orange juice, cereals and breads.
  • Another important nutrient is Iron. Iron helps carry oxygen to the blood and is important for your baby’s development. You should get about 27 mg of Iron each day. In addition to your prenatal vitamin, you can find iron in animal products like beef, poultry, pork, fish, egg yolks as well as beans, lentils, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.
  • Choline, a nutrient you may not have heard of, is very important for your baby. Choline helps with proper neural tube development, central nervous system development, and memory. Expectant mothers should aim for 450 mg per day.  Eggs (with the yolk), beef, fish, poultry, pork, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes and nuts like pistachios are all good sources of choline.
  • Lastly, Omega 3s provide a number of benefits like reducing the risk of preterm births, preeclampsia and hypertension. The main types of omega-3s you want to look for are DHA (300 mg) and EPA (220 mg).  The best sources of omega-3’s are in fish and seafood, while it’s also important to try to avoid high mercury content. Salmon, anchovies, flounder, clams, and tuna are great sources. If you don’t eat seafood, other ways to get omega-3s include flaxseeds or a fish oil supplement with the enteric coating.

For more information on other nutrients you should include in your diet, pick up a copy of my book, Pregnancy Cooking and Nutrition for Dummies.

 

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Tags: Nutrition

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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