– If you are pregnant or attempting to become pregnant, it is important to understand the importance of nutrients especially in the first eight weeks of fetal development. The development of major organs and body systems requires a balanced and healthy diet including all five food groups. These include grains or breads, pasta, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, low-fat protein including meat, poultry or nuts and dairy products. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends specific supplements to promote fetal development which include folic acid, iron, calcium and vitamin D.
Folic acid, folate or B vitamin can prevent neural tube defects, which are defects of the brain or spine. Supplementation is important since it is difficult to get this vitamin through foods alone. The recommended dosage which should be started one month before conception is 400 micrograms daily. During pregnancy, this dosage should increase to 600 micrograms daily. READ MORE ABOUT FERTILITY AND PRENATAL »
Iron is also important in building blood cells to carry oxygen to your organs and tissues. pregnant women need double the amount of iron compared to non-pregnant women. Some foods that provide iron include lean red meat, poultry, fish, dried beans, peas, iron-fortified cereals and prune juice. Iron is also absorbed more easily when eaten with vitamin C-rich foods including citrus fruits. The daily-recommended dose of iron during pregnancy is 27 milligrams, which is included in many prenatal combination pills.
Calcium is also important and builds the bones and teeth of your baby. All women, including those who are pregnant, 19 years and older should take 1.000 milligrams of calcium daily. Younger women 14-18 years old should get 1,300 milligrams daily. Natural food-based sources of calcium include dairy products as well as broccoli, dark leafy greens and sardines.
Vitamin D works with calcium to the build the bones and teeth. It also supports healthy skin and eyesight. All women, including those that are pregnant, need 600 international units of vitamin D daily. Natural food sources include fortified milk, fatty fish and exposure of your skin to sunlight.
Fats provide energy and help build fetal organs and the placenta. Oils from plant sources are preferred over those from animal sources or processed foods.
Nutrition is important if you are thinking about conception or if you are pregnant. Supplements including folic acid, iron, calcium and vitamin D may be difficult to obtain from diet alone. It is important to work with your physician to select the right prenatal vitamin that includes the correct dosages of each of these important nutrients. It is also important to maintain a balanced diet with each of the five food groups to care for yourself and the healthy baby you may be planning. BACK TO TOP »
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