Vitamins And Nutrients : What to Eat During Pregnancy

Vitamins And Nutrients : What to Eat During Pregnancy

Healthy Eating While Pregnant – Vitamins And Other Nutrients During Pregnancy


  • Your baby will receive all the nutrients that she needs from you during pregnancy. So you may need more than you did before pregnancy during pregnancy.
  • Prenatal vitamins and healthy foods can help you and your baby get all the nutrients you need during pregnancy.
  • Make sure you have folic acid, iron and calcium in your prenatal vitamin. Most of them are the correct amount.
  • Talk to your supplier to make sure you get enough vitamin D, DHA, and iodine every day.
  • Do not take any supplements from your provider without OK.

What are prenatal vitamins?

Prenatal vitamins are multivitamins produced only for pregnant women. They have more nutrients that you need during pregnancy than normal multivitamins. Your health care provider may prescribe a first prenatal vitamin for you. Or you can buy them on the counter without a prescription. Take a daily prenatal vitamin during pregnancy. If you plan to become pregnant, you may start taking prenatal vitamins before you become pregnant.

Your body uses vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to help keep your body healthy and strong. Your growing baby gets all the nutrients that she needs during pregnancy. So you may need more than before during pregnancy. If you are pregnant with multiples (twins, triples, or more), you may need more nutrients than if you are pregnant with a baby. Your prenatal vitamin contains the right amount of nutrients you need during pregnancy.

If you are a vegetarian, have food allergies or are unable to eat certain foods, your provider may want you to take an additional nutrient to help you get more nutrients. An addition is a product you take to make up for certain nutrients that you don’t get enough in the food you eat. For example, your provider may recommend taking a vitamin supplement to help you get more vitamin D, iron, or calcium.

Which nutrients are most important during pregnancy?

All nutrients are important, but these six play a key role in the growth and development of your baby during pregnancy:

  1. Folic acid
  2. Iron
  3. Calcium
  4. Vitamin D
  5. DHA
  6. Iodine

What is folic acid?

Folic acid is a vitamin B that every cell in your body requires for healthy growth. Follic acid may help to prevent birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects (also called NTD) before and during early pregnancy. Some studies show follic acid can help prevent heart defects and birth defects in the baby’s mouth, known as cleft lip and palate.

To help prevent NTDS, take a 400 mcg folic acid vitamin supplement every day for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy at least 1 month before the pregnancy. Take a 400 mcg folic acid vitamin supplement each day even if you are not attempting to get pregnant.

Take a prenatal vitamin every day during pregnancy with 600 micrograms of follic acid. Folic acid works only before and during the first few weeks of pregnancy to prevent NTDs. You will need 600 mcg of folic acid every day later in your pregnancy to help your baby grow and develop.

If the risk to a baby with an NTD is high, take 4,000 mcg of folic acid daily to help prevent an NTD. Start taking 4,000 mcg 3 months ahead of 12 weeks of pregnancy. Ask your supplier how to safely get this follic acid. Taking multivitamins or prenatal vitamins is not safe because you can get too many nutrients that can damage your health.

Your supplier can help you find the best and safest way to get the right amount of follic acid. You are at high risk for NTDs if:

  1. You’ve had a pregnancy with an NTD in the past.
  2. You or your partner has an NTD.
  3. Your partner has a child with an NTD.

You may also get folic acid from your food. Some foods have been added to folic acid. Look for the “fortified” or “enriched” package and see the “supplement fact” label to see how much folic acid you get in each serving.

  • Bread
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Cornmeal
  • Flour
  • Pasta

Products made from a kind of flour called corn masa, like tortillas, tortilla chips, taco shells, tamales and pupusas
White rice

Some fruits and vegetables can also contain folic acid. It is called folate when folic acid is naturally present in a food. Good folate sources include:

  • Leafy green vegetables, like spinach and broccoli
  • Lentils and beans
  • Orange juice

What is iron?

Iron is a mineral. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein that helps to transport oxygen to the rest of your lungs. During pregnancy, you need twice as much iron as you did before pregnancy. Your body needs this iron when you are pregnant to make more blood so it can carry oxygen. To make his own blood your baby needs iron.

During pregnancy, every day you need 27 mg of iron. This amount is present in most prenatal vitamins. You can also get food iron. Good sources of iron include:

  • Lean meat, poultry and seafood
  • Cereal, bread and pasta that has iron added to it (check the package label)
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Beans, nuts, raisins and dried fruit

There are two types of iron. You receive heme iron for the food, poultry and fish. You get iron from foods made from plants such as beans, fruits, vegetables and nuts, or plant foods such as cereals. If you eat fruit and veggies together with meat, poultry and fish or food high in vitamin C, your body will absorb more non-heme iron. Foods with lots of vitamin C include grapefruit, mango, papaya, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cabbage, spinach, and broccoli.

If during pregnancy you don’t get enough iron, you may be more likely to:

  • Get infections
  • Have anemia. This means you have too little iron in your blood.
  • Be fatigued. This means you feel really tired or exhausted.
  • Have a premature baby. This means your baby is born too soon, before 37 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Have a low-birthweight baby. This means your baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces.

What is calcium?

Calcium is a mineral that supports the development of your baby bones, teeth, heart, muscles and nerves. Every day, you need 1,000 milligrams of calcium during pregnancy. You can get this by taking your pre-natal vitamin and eating food that contains plenty of calcium.

Good calcium sources include:

  • Milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Broccoli and kale
  • Orange juice that has calcium added to it (check the package label)

If during pregnancy you don’t receive enough calcium, your body takes it from your bones and gives it to your baby. This may lead to health conditions later in life, such as osteoporosis. In this state, your bones are thin and easily break.

What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium from your body. It also helps the nerves, muscles and immune system of your body to work. Your immune system protects against infection in your body. To help his bones and teeth grow, your baby needs vitamin D.

You need 600 IU (international units) of vitamin D every day during pregnancy. This amount can be obtained from food or your prenatal vitamin. Good vitamin D sources include:

  • Fatty fish, like salmon
  • Milk and cereal that has vitamin D added to it (check the package label)

Your body also produces vitamin D in contact with your skin, but too much sun can cause your skin to get older and cancerous, so if you get food or prenatal vitamin, your vitamin D is good.

What is DHA?

DHA is a docosahexaenoic acid. It is some kind of fat (called omega-3 fatty acid) that contributes to growth and development. Every day during pregnancy, you need 200 milligrams of DHA to help your baby’s brain and eyes develop. Not all prenatal vitamins have DHA, so ask your provider if you need a DHA supplement. You can also eat DHA-containing foods.

Good DHA sources include:

Fish that are low in mercury, like herring, salmon, trout, anchovies and halibut. During pregnancy, eat 8 to 12 ounces of these kinds of fish each week.
Orange juice, milk and eggs that have DHA added to them (check the package label)

What is iodine?

Iodine is a mineral that your body needs to produce hormones. Thyroid. The thyroid is a gland in your neck that produces hormones that will help your body to consume and store food energy. During pregnancy, you need yodine to help the brain and nervous system of your baby develop. Your baby’s nervous system (brain, backbone and nerves) helps to move, think and feel.

Every day you need 220 micrograms of iodine during pregnancy. Not all prenatal vitamins contain iodine, so ensure that you eat foods that contain iodine. Ask your provider if an iodine supplement is required.

Good sources of iodine include:

  • Fish
  • Milk, cheese and yogurt
  • Enriched or fortified cereal and bread (check the package label)
  • Iodized salt (salt with iodine added to it; check the package label)

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