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Nutritional Needs for a Healthy Pregnancy
  • Arati Shah

  • 14, Sep. 2022

Nutritional Needs for a Healthy Pregnancy

Nutrition is an important aspect of good health and optimal energy at each stage in a woman’s life. Whether it is during adolescence, adulthood, pregnancy, lactation or during menopausal years, women need to focus on specific nutrients for good health. But, it is during her pregnancy that she needs to be utmost careful of her nutrient intake for the new life growing within her womb. Connecting with a nutritionist for pregnant women and enrolling into a prenatal nutrition program can help in nourishing the foetus and having a healthy pregnancy outcome. 

The key nutrients to focus during pregnancy are: 

Folate or folic acid: This B vitamin besides other reasons is absolutely essential to prevent neural tube defects in the foetus. Leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, cabbage, nuts, beans and lentils are a rich source of folate which is the natural form of the vitamin. Folic acid (synthetic form of the vitamin) supplementation is also crucial to meet the estimated requirement before and during pregnancy. 

Vitamin B12: This vitamin is essential from the point of view of red blood cells and the nervous system. It is found in dairy, meat, fish, poultry and eggs. Since it is only the animal foods that contain this vitamin, vegans need to supplement themselves under the supervision of the physician. 

Iron: This mineral helps in producing more blood and the total blood volume doubles during the entire course of pregnancy. The increasing demand can be met by including meat, chicken, fish, eggs, beans, leafy vegetables, garden cress seeds, etc. Vegetarians can improve the absorption of iron by including a vitamin C rich source with the iron rich food. For example squeezing lemon over dal or a salad before consumption. 

Calcium & Vitamin D: These two nutrients work in combination. Calcium helps in building strong bones and teeth of the foetus and Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium. Calcium is found in dairy, leafy greens,ragi or nachni, seeds like sesame, chia, fortified foods, etc. Vitamin D is unfortunately not found in many foods so the need for supplementation arises.  

Protein: A critical nutrient, protein ensuresthe growth and development of the foetus. The protein needs increase during each trimester of pregnancy. Sources of protein include dals & beans, meat, chicken, eggs, fish, nuts, milk and milk products.  

It would be important to remember that a balanced diet for a diverse array of nutrients is important for a positive pregnancy outcome. The above nutrients may have a special importance in the diet of a pregnant woman, but it is equally essential to consume the other nutrients too. Consulting a pregnancy nutritionist help the mother-to-be and growing baby stay healthy.