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Food And Nutrition During Pregnancy

What a woman eats and drinks during pregnancy is her baby's main source of nourishment. So, experts recommend that a mother-to-be diet should include a variety of healthy foods and beverages to provide the important nutrients a baby needs for growth and development.

Key Pregnancy Nutrition:

A pregnant woman needs more calcium, folic acid, iron and protein than a woman who is not expecting, here is why these four nutrients are important. Also known as folate when the nutrient is found in foods, folic acid is a B vitamin that is crucial in helping to prevent birth defects in the baby's brain and spinal cord, known as neural tube defects.


CALCIUM:

This mineral is used to build a baby's bones and teeth. If a pregnant woman does not consume enough calcium, the mineral will be drawn from the mother's stores in her bones and given to the baby to meet the extra demands of pregnancy, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Many dairy products are also fortified with vitamin D, another nutrient that works with calcium to develop a baby's bones and teeth.

IRON:

Pregnant women need 27 milligrams of iron a day, which is double the amount needed by women who are not expecting, according to ACOG. Additional amounts of the mineral are needed to make more blood to supply the baby with oxygen. Getting too little iron during pregnancy can lead to anemia, a condition resulting in fatigue and an increased risk of infections.


PROTEIN:

More Protein is needed during pregnancy, but most women don't have problems getting enough protein-rich foods in their diets, said Sarah Krieger, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman on prenatal nutrition for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in St. Petersburg, Florida. She described protein as "a builder nutrient," because it helps to build important organs for the baby, such as the brain and heart.

Food sources: meat, poultry, fish, dried beans and peas, eggs, nuts, tofu.



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