Eating right is a habit that’s good to develop, regardless of whether you’re pregnant or not. But expecting a child adds a certain urgency to being sure your diet consists of good, nutritious food.
It’s well documented that your diet, even before pregnancy, can have profound impacts on the health of your child.
Some research even suggests there’s a link between your diet and birth defects. For example, making sure you get enough folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in children.
Eating well during pregnancy involves more than just the number of calories…where you get those calories from is every bit as important. As a general rule, you need to be sure you eat an extra 300 calories per day while pregnant. This is especially important in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Continue reading for a list of essential nutrients, what they’re function is and foods that contain high amounts of said nutrients.
1. Protein – essential for cell growth and production. Best sources include lean meat, poultry, fish, eggs, peanut butter and cheese.
2. Carbohydrates – essential for daily energy production. Found in cereals, breads, potatoes, fruits and vegetables.
3. Calcium – essential for strong bones, teeth and muscle contraction and nerve function. Found in milk, cheese, yogurt, sardines, salmon (with bones) and spinach.
4. Iron – essential for red blood cell production. Best sources include lean red meat, spinach, whole-wheat breads and cereals.
5. Vitamin A – essential for healthy skin, good eyesight and strong bones. Best sources include carrots, dark leafy greens and sweet potatoes to name a few.
6. Vitamin C – essential for healthy gums, teeth and bones. Important for helping absorb iron as well. Best sources include citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes and fortified fruit juices.
7. Vitamin B6 – essential for formation of red blood cells as well as the absorption of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Sources include pork, ham and whole-grain cereals.
8. Vitamin B12 – essential for red blood cell production and maintaining nervous system health. Sources include meat, fish, poultry and milk.
9. Vitamin D – essential for healthy bones and teeth as well as for the absorption of calcium. Sources include fortified milk, dairy products, breads and cereals.
10. Folic acid – essential for blood and protein function as well as effective enzyme function. Sources include green leafy vegetables, dark yellow fruits, peas, nuts and beans.
11. Fat – essential for storing energy. Sources include meat, whole-milk, nuts, peanut butter and margarine.
The above list is a basic overview of the essential nutrients for healthy living – no matter if you’re pregnant or not. But as we said, being sure you’re getting the right amount of nutrients while pregnant is critical to ensuring your baby is born happy and healthy.
Talk with your midwife (…either here at Gainesville’s All About Women or wherever) and/or a specialist in nutrition about the proper diet regimen to ensure the health of both you and your child.