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Nutrition Essentials for Women in the Childbearing Years



During pregnancy, a woman's body undergoes significant physical and hormonal changes. Ensuring optimal health for both the mother and the baby requires careful attention to nutrition. It is often recommended that women take a multivitamin to ensure they meet their nutritional needs. The food a woman eats becomes the baby’s main source of nourishment, making it crucial to consume a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients. In this blog, we will explore the key nutrients necessary for a healthy pregnancy.


Key Nutrients for Pregnancy

Pregnancy increases the body's nutritional demands—it needs to support the development of a  whole new life! Below are the nutrients, women in child-bearing years should consider.


Calcium

Calcium is vital for building the baby’s bones and regulating the body’s fluid use. Pregnant women need 1,000 mg of calcium daily, ideally divided into two doses of 500 mg each.


Sources of Calcium:

·         Skim Milk

·         Low-Fat Yogurt (preferably Greek Yogurt)

·         Low-Fat Cheese

·         Low-mercury fish and seafood

·         Dark green, leafy vegetables


Iron

Iron, along with sodium, potassium, and water, increases blood flow, ensuring sufficient oxygen supply to both the mother and the baby. The recommended intake is 27 mg of iron per day. Combining iron with vitamin C (foods like strawberries for example) enhances its absorption.


·         Dark green, leafy vegetables

·         Citrus fruits

·         Enriched breads or cereals

·         Lean beef and poultry

·         Eggs


Folic Acid

Folic acid, a synthetic form of folate (a B vitamin), is crucial for preventing neural tube defects and spina bifida. Pregnant women should take 600 mcg per day, reducing to 500 mcg when breastfeeding.


Sources of Folate:

·         Bananas

·         Spinach

·         Black-eyed peas

·         Avocado

·         Broccoli

·         Orange juice


Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is essential for the healthy development and function of the nervous system. Pregnant women need approximately 2.6 mcg per day.


Sources of Vitamin B-12:

·         Milk

·         Poultry

·         Fish


Other Important Nutrients:

Additional nutrients like choline, salt, and B vitamins are also vital for maintaining a healthy pregnancy. In addition to eating well, it is important to drink at least eight glasses of water daily and take prenatal vitamins. During the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, pregnant women should increase their calorie intake by 340-450 calories per day.


Foods to Avoid:

·         Unpasteurized juices and milk

·         Deli meats

·         Raw or rare meats, poultry, fish, or eggs

·         Raw sprouts

·         Soft cheese


Maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet during pregnancy is crucial for the health of both the baby and the mother. Pregnant women should aim to avoid fast food and focus on consuming more nutritious meals to support a healthy pregnancy.


Reviewed and Edited by Shannon Hodson, Writer, Kelly's Choice, LLC


References:

Ernst, H. (2015, September 3). How Important are B Vitamins in Pregnancy?. healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/b-vitamins

Hatanaka, M. (2020, July 13). Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy. healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/nutrition

Kallen, A. (2020, November 9). Folic Acid for Pregnancy: Sources, dosage, and uses. MedicalNewsToday. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/folic-acid-for-pregnancy

 

 

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