Holistic Health & Living

Important nutrients intake in pregnancy: Here’s what you should know

Important nutrients intake in pregnancy: Here's what you should know_food-to-eat-during-pregnancy

A healthy and nutritionally balanced diet is always desirable; still, the pregnancy stage in a woman’s life craves such a diet even more. Although some of the main principles of healthy dieting (such as consuming whole foods, healthy fats, and lean protein) remain the same during pregnancy, some nutrients require a bit more attention. After all, you’re fueling your body for both yourself and a developing baby. By being mindful about your nutrients intake, you’re ensuring your baby develops correctly and grows just as it should. With that in mind, we’ve asked experts from Aastra Women’s Center to let us in on the subject and help us better understand the importance of proper nutrient intake during pregnancy.

  • What are nutrients, and why are they important?
    Simply put, essential nutrients are compounds our body can’t produce (or can’t make in sufficient quantities) but are essential for our body to function correctly, develop, heal, and prevent diseases. Since we can’t make them, we have to take them through food or supplements.
    Although there are numerous essential nutrients out there, we can divide them into two main groups: macronutrients and micronutrients.
  • Weight gain during pregnancy
    It’s normal and expected for a woman to gain some weight during pregnancy. There’s no universal answer to how much weight you should gain during pregnancy; it depends on a few factors, such as your health condition and your weight before pregnancy. For example, if your weight was in a normal range before pregnancy, it would be acceptable for you to gain anywhere between 25 to 35 pounds. However, if you were underweight before getting pregnant, you’ll probably need to gain more. In the same manner, if you were overweight or obese before pregnancy, you should gain less than recommended above. 
  • The recommended macronutrient intake during pregnancy
    Macronutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. They’re eaten in larger amounts, and they’re essentially the primary building blocks of your diet. If you’ve ever been on a diet, you most likely paid attention to each of these macronutrient intakes.
    • Protein
      Protein plays some of the most important roles in our body. This is especially true during pregnancy. Sufficient amounts of protein ensure your baby develops correctly and promotes its organs and tissues’ growth. Moreover, it can assist your breast and uterus growth throughout the pregnancy. Your recommended protein intake during pregnancy is around 70g a day.
      It’s important to choose high-quality sources of protein, such as lean meat and poultry, salmon, cottage cheese, and other high-protein dairy products.
    • Carbohydrates
      Carbs supply you with energy. They’re divided into three groups: sugars, starches, and fiber. When reading labels, it’s important to understand that sugars are simple carbs, so you should not go overboard with their consumption. On the other hand, fibers are complex carbohydrates, and they promote great digestion, so try to opt for foods rich in fiber, such as beans, whole grains, and fiber-packed fruits and veggies. Your recommended carbs consumption should be around 45 to 65 % of your daily calorie intake.
    • Fats
      Although fats have had some serious bad reputations in the past, it’s now clear they’re essential for a healthy and balanced diet. When it comes to pregnancy, fats play a big role in your baby’s brain development. The World Health Organization suggests you should get no more than 30% of your daily calorie intake from fats. Some of the best healthy fats choices include extra virgin olive oil, avocados, greek yogurt, and other high-fat dairy products and nuts.
  • The recommended macronutrient intake during pregnancy
    Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. Although we need pretty small amounts of these essential nutrients, they’re still very important for the proper functioning of our bodies. Vitamins are crucial for cell production and growth, while minerals ensure our bones, muscles, brain, and heart work properly. Let’s go over some of the most important micronutrients you should keep track of during pregnancy:
    • Calcium does your body good during pregnancy in several ways. It helps your baby develop bones and teeth, as well as helps your body get rid of excess fluids. It can also reduce your risk of preeclampsia, a condition that causes sudden rises in blood pressure. Your daily recommended dose is 1000mg of calcium a day. Some of the great natural sources of calcium include dairy products, low-mercury seafood, dark green leafy vegetables, and calcium-rich tofu.
    • Iron is essential for your baby’s brain development as well as its overall growth. Since your body contains a larger amount of blood during pregnancy, your iron intake should also increase. Your recommended daily iron intake is 27mg, and we recommend you get it from lean beef, eggs, green leafy vegetables, iron-fortified cereals, and poultry.
    • Folic acid is somewhat of a must-have during pregnancy. It is essentially a B Vitamin that helps prevent serious birth defects. Folate can also lower your risk of premature birth. Your daily recommended dose during pregnancy may be about 600 to 800mcg, although you’ll most likely get it prescribed in the form of a supplement from your doctor.
    • Vitamin A is needed for your baby’s embryonic growth and the development of certain organs as well as the respiratory, circulatory, and central nervous system. Your daily recommended dose should be around 770mcg a day.
    • Vitamin C promotes healthy teeth, gums, and bones, as well as strengthens your immune system. Some great natural sources of this vitamin include tomatoes, strawberries, citrus fruits, and broccoli. You’ll need about 85mg of this vitamin during your pregnancy.
    • Vitamin D works together with calcium to promote your baby’s bone development. Great sources of Vitamin D include moderate sunlight exposure and fatty fish such as salmon and fortified milk. Your daily intake of this vitamin should be about 15mcg or 600IU a day. 

Summary

While all these nutrients and doses may seem a bit confusing at first glance, there’s no need to panic or stress over keeping track of your daily intake of each one of them. Instead, try to develop a balanced diet that includes most of the foods listed above and sit back knowing you’re providing your baby (and yourself) with everything you need. 

Lastly, we feel like it’s important to mention water – often considered the fourth macronutrient. Water seriously does wonders for your health, and during pregnancy, it can aid your digestion, help you remove excess water, as well as aid the formation of the amniotic fluid around the fetus. Try to have 8 to 12 cups of water each day!

Resources:

“Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients,” Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-nutrition/art-20045082. Accessed 21 April 2022.

“Nutrition Recommendations in Pregnancy and Lactation,” National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5104202/. Accessed 21 April 2022.

“Nutrition During Pregnancy,” John Muir Health, https://www.johnmuirhealth.com/health-education/health-wellness/pregnancy-breastfeeding/nutritional-needs-during-pregnancy.html. Accessed 21 April 2022.

“Pregnancy and Nutrition,” Medline Plus, https://medlineplus.gov/pregnancyandnutrition.html. Accessed 21 April 2022.

“6 Essential Nutrients and Why Your Body Needs Them”, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/six-essential-nutrients. Accessed 21 April 2022.

“Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy,” Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/nutrition#what-to-eat. Accessed 21 April 2022.

“Healthy diet,” World Health Organization, https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/healthy-diet. Accessed 21 April 2022.

“Macronutrient and Micronutrient Intake during Pregnancy: An Overview of Recent Evidence,” National Library of Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6413112/. Accessed 21 April 2022.

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