When you have a baby on board, it is more important than ever to look after your nutrition and ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs. For pregnant women, there are some vitamins and minerals that are especially vital for a healthy pregnancy. Not sure you’re getting all? Here’s a quick list of what you need and why.
B vitamin or Folate is one of the most important vitamins for fetal health and to sustain a healthy pregnancy. Don’t get enough and it could lead to serious abnormalities of both the spinal cord and the brain in the fetus. Taking it in adequate amounts is linked to a lower risk of such defects.
How much to have: 500 micrograms daily from when you start trying to conceive and through pregnancy.
Dietary sources: Green leafy vegetables like palak/methi, citrus fruit like oranges/sweet lime, peas, and dried beans.
Vitamin D helps to regulate how much phosphate and calcium (nutrients needed for bone, teeth, and muscle health) is there in your body.
How much to have: 10 micrograms daily i.e. 400 IU (international units) while pregnant
Dietary sources: The best way is sun exposure to allow the body to make its own, but this isn’t always possible. Oily fish like sardines, mackerel, and salmon as well as red meat and eggs contain the vitamin too.
Your baby’s bone and teeth development require adequate calcium levels in the body. Also, your own body needs calcium to maintain the normal function of the circulatory, nervous, and muscular systems.
How much to have: 1200 mg daily while pregnant.
Dietary sources: Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese and veggies like kale and broccoli are good sources.
Iron is essential for the production of haemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. During pregnancy your body will require adequate amount of iron to make more blood and supply the extra oxygen required to the baby and also to the other parts of your own body. Insufficient amounts can leave you fatigued from iron deficiency anaemia and could even result in premature birth or a small-sized baby.
How much to have: 21 mg daily while pregnant.
Dietary sources: Leafy vegetables like spinach and radish leaves are good source of iron. Meat, chicken, kidney beans, raisins, lentils, and soybeans are some dietary sources. Try and have plant-based iron along with vitamin C to improve absorption.
Vitamin C is necessary to keep your cells healthy and to protect them.
How much to have: 60 mg daily.
Dietary sources: Besides citrus fruit like oranges and sweet lime, green leafy vegetables like cabbage, coriander leaves, drumstick leaves, red and green capsicum are good source of Vitamin C. Fruits like amla, guava strawberries, contain the vitamin.
Protein is essential for the normal growth of the baby during the entire pregnancy.
How much to have: Aim at 1.3 gm of protein per kg of your pre-pregnancy body weight. So if you weighed 50 kg pre-pregnancy, have 65 gm of protein daily.
Dietary sources: Get your protein from healthy sources like lean meat and chicken, fish, eggs, lentils/dals, beans and peas, soy products, seeds, and nuts.
Take care to ensure your diet also contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A/Beta-Carotene: Green and yellow vegetables, yellow fruit, carrots, pumpkin, cantaloupe, milk, spinach, broccoli, liver.
- Zinc : Chicken, red meat, nuts, beans, wholegrain, dairy.
- Vitamin B1/Thiamine: Wholegrains, wheat germ, pork, organ meats, berries, eggs, rice, pasta, legumes, nuts.
- Vitamin B2/Riboflavin: Chicken, eggs, fish, meats, dairy.
- Vitamin B3/Niacin: Protein-rich foods, milk, eggs, peanuts.
- Vitamin B6 : Poultry, fish, eggs, liver, soybean, seeds, wheat germ, brown rice bran, nuts, broccoli, bananas, cabbage, carrots, spinach.
- Vitamin B12: Fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, liver, pork, dairy.
- Vitamin E: Wheat germ, nuts, spinach, vegetable oil.
You need to add just about 300 calories to your regular diet on the whole, while pregnant - just remember to make them count. In general, be sure that the food you eat while pregnant has a healthy balance of proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals. It’s as simple as that!
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