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Ten Nutrients for Pregnancy

Ten Nutrients for Pregnancy

Key vitamins and minerals to remember

While we believe good nutrition is important everyday, it can be argued that at no other stage of the life cycle is nutrition more important than during pregnancy.  A balanced and nutrient-rich diet is of the utmost importance during this stage of life because a mother’s body will prioritize giving a growing fetus the nutrients it needs - even at the expense of the mother’s needs. 

While the general principles of healthy eating remain the same, it’s kind of like a game of Jenga.  How do you fit all the key nutrients into the diet, without completely over consuming calories?  The answer – limit processed foods and stick with nutrient dense whole foods – lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.  Here are a few nutrients to keep in mind, in no specific order.

1.     Choline – essential for the normal development of your child’s memory according to preliminary research. 

Found in broccoli, spinach, beans, cod, salmon, eggs. 

2.     Vitamin D – In one study, children whose mothers had the lowest levels of vitamin D during pregnancy were found to have thinner, weaker bones by age 9. 

Found in sunlight, salmon, canned tuna, low fat yogurt. 

3.     Folate – adequate levels of the B vitamin folate help prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida. 

Found in spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, avocado, broccoli, artichokes.

4.     Betaine – works synergistically with choline; babies born to women with diets highest in betaine and choline were 75% less likely to have neural tube defects, in one study. 

Found in wheat bran, cereal, beets and spinach. 

5.     Iron – Women who are pregnant have higher (nearly double!) iron needs.  Iron deficiency may result in premature birth and low birthweight. 

Found in lentils, beans, fish, chicken, raisins, potatoes with skin.

6.     Vitamin C – assists in absorption of iron, is essential for structural development, and supports immune function.

Found in pineapple, red bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, oranges, kiwis and broccoli.

7.     Zinc – deficiency during pregnancy has been linked to certain kinds of developmental abnormalities and learning impairment. 

Found it beans, chickpeas, cashews, almonds, oatmeal, green peas.

8.     Copper – critical in human development and deficiency in the mother can result in birth defects and brain abnormalities in the child. 

Found in cashews, sunflower seeds, lentils, potatoes, mushrooms, kiwis.

9.     Calcium – 1500mg a day was enough to reduce various pregnancy complications by 25%, in one study. 

Found in collard greens, arugula, navy beans, kale, low fat dairy.

10.  Omega 3 Fatty Acids – essential for both neurological and visual development of the baby.  They also play a role in breast milk production.

Found in black cod, wild salmon, flaxseed, trout, walnuts. 

Published April 1, 2022

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