Nutrition requirements during pregnancy
Your body has increased nutritional needs during pregnancy. Although the old adage of “eating for two” isn’t entirely correct, you do require more micronutrients and macronutrients to support you and your baby. Micronutrients are dietary components, such as vitamins and minerals, which are only required by the body in small amounts. Macronutrients, on the other hand, are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Examples of macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. You need to consume more of each type of nutrient during pregnancy.
Most pregnant women can meet these increased nutritional needs by choosing a diet that includes a variety of healthy foods. A simple way to ensure you’re getting all the necessary nutrients is to eat different foods from each of the food groups every day. In fact, all meals should include at least three different food groups. Each food group has something to offer your body. Grains are a good source of energy. Fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. The food groups that include meats, nuts, and legumes provide your body with protein, folate, and iron. Dairy products are the best source of calcium and vitamin D.
Your body is unable to function properly if it’s missing the nutrients from any of these food groups. Remember that your goal is to eat a wide variety of foods during pregnancy. Whenever possible, choose natural, low-fat foods over processed junk foods. Chips and soda, for example, contain no nutritional value. You and your baby will benefit more from fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins such as chicken, fish, beans, or lentils. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to avoid all of your favorite foods during pregnancy. However, you must balance them with nutritious foods so that you don’t miss any important vitamins or minerals.
Including the following nutrients in your daily diet will help ensure that you satisfy your body’s nutritional needs during pregnancy:
- Protein: Protein is critical for ensuring the proper growth of fetal tissue, including the brain. It also helps with breast and uterine tissue growth during pregnancy. It even plays a role in your increasing blood supply, allowing more blood to be sent to your baby.
- Calcium: Calcium helps build your baby’s bones and regulates your body’s use of fluids.
- Iron: Iron works with sodium, potassium, and water to increase blood flow. This helps ensure that enough oxygen is supplied to both you and your baby.
- Folate: Folate, commonly known as folic acid, plays an important part in reducing the risk of neural tube defects. These are major birth defects that affect the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Examples of neural tube defects include spina bifida and anencephaly.
- You can find these nutrients in the following foods:
Protein sources (3 servings per day) Calcium sources (4 servings per day for pregnant women, 5 servings per day for pregnant teens) lean beef and pork milk beans yogurt chicken cheese salmon cabbage nuts tofu peanut butter eggs cottage cheese pudding