Did you know that what you eat during pregnancy can have a huge impact on your baby’s health and development? It’s true! That’s why it’s crucial to prioritize a balanced and nutritious diet while you’re expecting. What you eat can contribute to maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
You may be eating for two, but remember, every bite counts. The health and development of your little one depend on what you consume. By taking care of yourself, you’re giving your little one the best start in life. So, let’s nourish that growing bump and embrace this incredible journey together!
Let’s delve further into some essential nutrients that are crucial in pregnancy.
Essential Nutritional Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy
1. Zinc: You need 15 milligrams per day.
Zinc is vital for the proper growth of your baby and contributes to developing a healthy immune system. Studies indicate that insufficient zinc intake may lead to immune deficiency in future generations, including your grandchild! To meet this requirement, get at least 15 milligrams per day of zinc in your diet, which can be found in high-protein foods such as meat and beans.
2. Folic Acid: Take 400 to 800 micrograms per day.
Getting sufficient folic acid before and during pregnancy is critical for proper growth and preventing congenital disabilities. This nutrient is abundant in deep green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. Aim for at least 400 to 800 micrograms daily.
Getting enough folic acid is critical both before and during pregnancy to help ensure proper growth and prevent congenital disabilities. This nutrient is abundant in deep green, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale. Women should get at least 400 to 800 micrograms per day.
3. Magnesium: Alleviates leg cramps and constipation
Magnesium deficiency is quite common in the North American diet and can increase the risk of high blood pressure and seizures during pregnancy, known as eclampsia. Additionally, consuming adequate magnesium helps reduce uncomfortable leg cramps and constipation frequently experienced during pregnancy. Furthermore, magnesium plays a role in over 300 other bodily functions, leaving you feeling healthier overall.
4. B Vitamins: Promotes energy, mental clarity and prevent depression
B vitamins are vital during pregnancy to boost energy levels, maintain mental clarity, and prevent depression. Research has also shown that these vitamins lessen the likelihood of pregnancy-related complications like gestational diabetes. Aim for approximately 25 to 50 milligrams of B vitamins daily and sufficient vitamin B12 for optimal nerve function.
5. Fish Oils: Supports brain tissue development
The human brain mainly consists of DHA, an essential fatty acid found abundantly in fish oils. No wonder there is an old wives’ tale about fish being brain food! However, DHA deficiency is prevalent, making it crucial for pregnant women to ensure adequate intake of fish oils. By doing so, you are facilitating healthy and optimal brain tissue development in your baby.
6. Calcium: Consume 1,500 milligrams per day
Ideally, pregnant women should aim for a calcium intake of 1,500 milligrams daily. Taking this supplement at night can even assist with sleep quality. Liquid, powdered, or chewable forms are recommended as alternatives to milk and yogurt. Each cup of milk or yogurt typically contains around 400 milligrams of calcium.
7. Iron: Take 18 – 36 milligrams per day
Consuming approximately 18 to 36 milligrams of iron daily can be incredibly beneficial during pregnancy. Interestingly, iron deficiency can sometimes lead to infertility issues as well. Additionally, inadequate iron levels put you at risk for anemia, fatigue, poor memory, and decreased immune function.
8. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water
It is essential to stay adequately hydrated throughout your pregnancy journey. Due to the increased blood volume in your body by about 30 percent during pregnancy, dehydration becomes a genuine concern. If you experience dry mouth or lips, drink more water! Adequate salt intake also prevents dehydration unless you struggle with fluid retention.
9. Check Your Thyroid Levels
Hypothyroidism (an underactive metabolism) often goes undiagnosed among millions of women worldwide and can have severe consequences during pregnancy. This condition accounts for over 6 percent of miscarriages and may contribute to learning disabilities in children born from affected pregnancies. If you were already on thyroid medication before becoming pregnant, it is customary to need an increased dosage during pregnancy.
10. What Expectant Women Should Avoid to maintain a Healthy Pregnancy
It is worth noting a few cautions for pregnant women’s well-being. First, avoid consuming more than 8,000 units of vitamin A daily, as excessive amounts can be harmful. Additionally, smoking, drugs, and alcohol should all be avoided during pregnancy to safeguard your and your baby’s health. On the other hand, regular exercise has been shown to have numerous benefits and contributes to healthy outcomes for both moms and babies.
Remember, following these guidelines and nurturing your health during pregnancy gives your little one a strong foundation for a healthy start in life. Take care of yourself to take care of your growing miracle!
Written by: Tina I URETEN, MD, RDMS, RDCS