In addition to recommended supplements, your pregnancy diet must provide the required mix of essential nutrients to foster your health and baby’s growth. Find a list of top nutrients you really need, why you do and their major food sources to steer you in the right direction.
Your developing baby takes required amounts of calcium from your body to build its bones and teeth. Therefore, you must replace lost amounts to keep your own bones and teeth in perfect health.
It also regulates your body’s use of fluids, promotes your bone density and may help prevent preeclampsia. Experts recommend an average of 1,000 milligrams daily, and you can get this by including milk and other dairy products, like yoghurt and cheese in your diet. Spinach, cabbage, and calcium-fortified foods including soy milk, juices, breads and breakfast cereals are also good sources.
Folate, a B vitamin, prevents severe birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. It may also help prevent early miscarriage and premature delivery. Read more about it benefits during pregnancy here.
An average of 600 mg is recommended daily and good food sources include orange juice, strawberries, fortified cereals, bread and pasta, spinach, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, peas, dried nuts and seeds, liver, avocado and sweet potatoes.
Among other benefits, iodine helps in regulating your body’s metabolism by improving thyroid health, aids your baby’s brain and nervous system development, promotes baby’s growth, and helps in preventing deafness, miscarriage and stillbirth. Baked potato eaten with peel, low-fat yoghurt, cow’s milk, iodized salt and cheese are good sources.
This prevents anaemia by aiding the production of red blood cells and promotes the supply of oxygen to your cells and baby’s for energy and growth. It may also help prevent premature delivery and low birth weight. Good sources include beef, pork, poultry, fish, iron-fortified grains or oatmeal, beans, vegetables, dried fruits and wheat germ.
This aids proper development of your baby’s brain cells and prevents defects in the spinal cord and brain. An average of 450 mg is recommended daily and good sources include salmon, chicken, eggs and pork.
6. Vitamin C
Vitamin C boosts your immunity, aids the absorption of iron from plant foods and keeps red blood cells healthy. Apart from staple fruits like orange, apple and banana, include water melon, different kinds of berries, grapes, tomatoes, bell peppers, green beans and paw paw in your diet to get a good dose of antioxidants, minerals and vitamin C. Remember, the more variety of colours you eat, the better.
7. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
This is an omega-3 fatty acids and may help reduce your future risk of heart disease and in the meantime, promotes your baby’s brain development and vision. Good food sources include catfish and salmon fish.
8. Vitamin B6
It boosts your immune system, aids the formation of new red blood cells, produces protein for new cells and aids metabolism of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Apart from fortified breakfast cereals, banana, baked potato, chicken breast and beef are best sources.
It fosters normal heart beat by keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level and ensures proper fluid and electrolyte balance. Raisins, sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, orange juice, white beans, and spinach are good sources.
Finally, be sure to drink lots of water as this helps your body get rid of toxins, aids rapid digestion and minimizes your susceptibility to urinary tract infections which most pregnant women are prone to. You may opt for coconut water, fresh orange juice or add a slice of lemon to change the bland taste.
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