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Pregnancy Nutrition

What Should Know About Pregnancy Nutrition

Nutrition is important in anyone's life, but is especially important for a pregnant woman. When you are pregnant, whatever you consume is your unborn baby's only source of nourishment. Here is a short guide to pregnancy nutrition.

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Prenatal Vitamins

Once you have an exam by a health care provider, s/he will most likely prescribe a prenatal vitamin for you. These vitamins can be vital to pregnancy nutrition. Your prenatal vitamins will provide a healthy balance of the vitamins and minerals you and your growing baby need to be healthy. Prenatal vitamins are not a substitute for healthy food, nor should you use them as such. These vitamins provide SOME of the necessary quantities of vitamins and minerals, but you are responsible for consuming the right foods to help cover the daily percentage not given by the prenatal vitamins.

Gaining Weight

When you are pregnant you must be prepared to gain weight - now is not the time to begin a new diet. On the contrary, this does not mean that you are free to eat anything you want all of the time. You still need to make sure to eat nutritious food that will benefit you and your baby. At first, you only need about 300 extra calories per day. During your first trimester you may not feel much like eating. If this is the case, when you DO eat, make sure that you are eating foods rich in vitamins and protein. Folic acid (Vitamin B9) is especially important to a pregnant woman. Your intake of folic acid could help prevent many birth defects such as spina bifida and other neural tube defects. If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting and are unable to keep anything down, talk to your health care provider who may be able to suggest a dietary supplement.

Foods and the Nutrients They Provide

The following is a list of nutrients a pregnant woman needs, what they provide for your unborn baby, and a taste of the foods that provide them.

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Protein

  • Provides: Helps cell growth and blood production in baby
  • Foods: Fish, egg whites, lean meats, poultry, tofu (Note: Pregnant women should limit their intake of fish due to mercury levels.)

Carbohydrates

  • Provide: Gives mother-to-be energy
  • Foods: Breads, cereals, rice, potatoes

Calcium

  • Provides: Helps baby's bones and teeth develop; helps keep mother-to-be's bones and teeth strong
  • Foods: Milk, cheese, yogurt, spinach

Iron

  • Provides: Helps red blood cell production in baby and mother (Note: Iron will also help to prevent pregnancy anemia)
  • Foods: Spinach, iron-fortified foods

Vitamin A

  • Provides: Helps baby grow healthy skin and bones; helps keep mother's skin, bones and eyesight healthy
  • Foods: Carrots, sweet potatoes

Vitamin C

  • Provides: Helps baby develop healthy gums, teeth and bones; helps baby and mother to absorb iron
  • Foods: Citrus fruits, broccoli

Vitamin B6

  • Provides: Helps red blood cell formation in baby and mother; helps body use protein, fat, and carbs effectively
  • Foods: Pork products, bananas

Vitamin B12

  • Provides: Helps formation of red blood cells in baby and mother; helps nervous system to develop in baby and maintains nervous system health in mother
  • Foods: Meat, fish, poultry, milk

Vitamin D

  • Provides: Helps absorb calcium into the body
  • Foods: Fortified dairy products and breads

Folic Acid

  • Provides: Helps blood production in baby and mother
  • Foods: Green leafy vegetables, dark yellow fruits and vegetables, nuts

Fat

  • Provides: Stores energy
  • Foods: Meat, dairy products made with whole milk (or whole milk by itself), peanut butter (Note: Limit intake of fats to less than 30% of total daily caloric intake)

So there is your simple pregnancy nutrition guide. Remember: if you have a craving, satisfy it - you can have treats, just eat them in moderation. Bon appetit!


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