Essential Nutrients During Pregnancy
As seen on KCCI channel 8 news at 5 pm, Tuesday October 26th.
This topic really hits home for me right now both profesioanlly and personal. I am now entering my 23rd week of pregnancy and feeling great!
A healthy diet while pregnant will promote your baby’s growth and development but there’s really no magic formula. In fact, the basic principles of healthy eating remains the same – plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. However, there are a few nutrients that deserve special attention.
Folate and folic acid is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects, serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord.
Good sources: Fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and dried beans and peas.
Your baby needs calcium for strong bones and teeth. If there’s not enough calcium in your pregnancy diet, the calcium your baby needs will be taken from your bones. YIKES!
Good sources: Dairy products are the richest sources of calcium. Many fruit juices and breakfast cereals are fortified with calcium and believe it or not leafy green vegetables.
Protein is crucial for your baby’s growth, especially during the second and third trimesters.
Good sources: Lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs are great sources of protein. Other options include dried beans and peas, tofu, dairy products and peanut butter.
During pregnancy your blood volume expands, therefore you need about double the amount of iron. Not achieving this can result in anemia which will leave you feeling fatigued and more susceptible to infections.
Good sources: Lean red meat, poultry and fish. Other options include iron-fortified breakfast cereals, nuts and dried fruit.
The iron from animal products, such as meat, is most easily absorbed….
when eating iron from plant sources such as spinach, you should pair it with a citrus fruit to aid in the absorbtion.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids are necessary for the development of the brain, nervous system and immune function of your baby.
This is particularly important the growth spurt in the last trimester and after birth
Adequate omega-3 intake during pregnancy is associated with appropriate birth weight and cognitive development.
Good Sources: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, trout, herring, halibut, sardines, and tuna, omega-3 eggs (fortified with DHA), leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds (walnuts/flaxseed), and vegetable oils such as canola and soy.
Omega-3 and Safety Issues:
– Fish with the lowest mercury levels include anchovies, cod, herring, lobster,
mackerel, salmon, scallop, shrimp, canned tuna.
– Eat up to 12 ounces (3 average meals) a week of a variety of fish/shellfish that are
lower in mercury (complete listing at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html)
– Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish because of high mercury levels
– Up to 3 g of fish oil daily in pregnancy is safe
– The American Heart Association states that supplementation above 3 g of n-3 a day
should only be done under a physician’s care
– Fish oil is preferred since cod liver oil contains high levels of vitamin A and D
– Consult with a licensed medical doctor or Registered Dietitian before starting fish oil
In addition to making healthy food choices, taking a daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting three months before conception — can help ensure you’re getting enough of this essential nutrient.
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