Helping families create a healthy relationship with food for their children.
7 Key Nutrients For a Healthy Pregnancy
Feeding and nourishing your child begins in the womb, even prior to conception. Research shows that early nutrition has a strong influence on your infant’s overall health and development. If you haven’t been paying attention to how you eat, pregnancy certainly is an excellent time to make some changes for the better. Here are 7 key nutrients I feel are the most important to include in your diet during pregnancy, (better yet while trying to conceive!).
Calcium: Your baby needs calcium for the tooth and bone development that occurs in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. If you don’t get enough calcium in your diet, your infant will leach what it needs from your bones, which may increase your risk for osteoporosis. Excellent sources include: Milk, calcium fortified beverage, yogurt, cheese, broccoli, spinach, almonds and green leafy veggies. At least 3 servings daily in the dairy category will help reach your goal of 1000mg/day.
Vitamin D: Helps both you and your infant utilize Calcium. Vitamin D now has extensive research supporting its role in immune function, healthy cell division and bone health. A recent study found women taking 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily had the greatest benefits in preventing preterm labor/births and infections. Found in milk, eggs and fish. Sun exposure is also a source, but unreliable to measure dosage. You need 400 IU minimal up to 4000 IU daily.
Iron: During pregnancy iron needs double to help support the increase in blood volume and to promote fetal iron storage. An iron supplement is recommended since it can be a challenge to get this much iron from the diet. Food sources are still the best source, so include fortified breakfast cereal, meat, poultry, grains and green leafy vegetables. 27 mg/day.
Vitamin C: Helps to increase uptake of non-heme (non-meat) sources of iron. Excellent sources include: Strawberries, oranges, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes.
Folic Acid: Ideally you need 400 mcg of this B vitamin daily prior to conception and increase to 600 mcg while pregnant. Folate helps to reduce neural-tube defects such as spina-bifida. Excellent sources include: fortified cereals, dark green leafy vegetables and legumes.
Omega-3’s: These fatty acids are critical building blocks for fetal brain and retina development. The best sources are derived from seafood and algae. Other sources include flaxseeds and chia seeds. Include 8-12 oz. of low mercury fish, (wild salmon excellent choice) per week or DHA supplement.
Probiotics: This beneficial bacteria aids in healthy immune function and digestion. A baby will start to culture its first dose of probiotics from its mom in the birth canal and later during breast feeding. It’s important to help baby get off to a great start. Food sources: yogurt, kefir or “Good Belly” drink. Probiotic supplements are also an option.