Preparing to be a mother is an exciting experience that forces you to monitor not only your body, but also what you eat. When you’re pregnant, it’s important to carefully review your diet so that ensure you and your baby are in good health. While it’s always a good idea to eat a healthy diet, when you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, it’s even more crucial to cover any nutritional gaps to help your baby get nutrients for healthy development.
Whether you’re pregnant or trying or considering conceiving, folic acid should be one of the most important nutrients in your diet. Folic acid is a B vitamin that reduces the chances of specific birth defects in the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Folic acid can be taken separately or in a multivitamin. 600 mcg of folic acid per day are recommended by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Iron is a mineral the body uses to make a protein that helps carry oxygen from the lungs to the body called hemoglobin. During pregnancy, your body needs iron to make more blood to carry oxygen to your baby. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend 27 mg of iron per day. You can also find iron in lean meat, poultry, seafood, fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, beans, nuts, and dried fruit.
Calcium is a mineral that helps the development of your baby’s bones, teeth, heart, muscles, and nerves. Low calcium levels will force your body to take calcium from your bones to support your baby. This can lead to osteoporosis and brittle bones. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend 1,000 mg of calcium per day for pregnant women. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, broccoli, kale, tofu, and salmon.
Vitamin D helps the body’s nerves, muscles, immune system as well as the absorption of calcium. Not only does your baby need vitamin D for growth of bones and teeth, but your body also needs vitamin D for a healthy immune system to fight off infection. 600 IU of vitamin D per day is recommended by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Foods high in vitamin include fortified milks and cereals as well as fatty fish like salmon. Vitamin D is also produced naturally by the body when your skin comes in contact with sunlight so a walk in the park is always a good thing.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is found in certain types of fish. Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in development of the brain and nervous system of your baby. During the final trimester, your baby will need a large amount of omega-3 fatty acid to help support the development of brain, eyes, and central nervous system. You can find DHA in certain prenatal vitamins and fatty fish like salmon and herring.
Whether you’re looking for prenatal vitamins or trying to improve your eating habits during pregnancy, make sure to incorporate these 5 essential nutrients in your daily diet. Make sure to read the labels of any over the counter prenatal vitamins and research which supplements are right for you. Vitamin A, C, B6, B12, and iodine are also important prenatal vitamins to keep in mind. Pills, soft-gel capsules, and gummies are all helpful to reach the daily recommended allowance. Check with your doctor on how to meet all your nutrient recommendations to help you and your baby reach optimal health.