Nutrients & Vitamins

During pregnancy, the daily intake requirements for certain nutrients such as Folic acid, calcium and iron increases. Healthful eating and proper supplements play an important role in making the baby strong and healthy. Following is the list of some of the nutrients essential for the mother and her baby need and where to get them.

Proteins
Builds the baby's tissues, placenta, and red blood cells. An average daily requirement for pregnant women is 60 to 75 grams, which can be broken into 3 to 4 servings. Here are some examples of single servings:

  • 24 ounces of skim or low-fat milk
  • 1-3/4 cups low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1-3/4 cups low-fat plain yogurt
  • 3 ounces Swiss, Cheddar or low-fat cheese
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 3 ounces of white meat chicken or turkey without skin
  • 5 or 6 ounces tofu
  • 3 ounces lean beef, lamb, veal, pork or dark meat chicken

Carbohydrates
Provides fuel for the mother and her baby to grow. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is at least 325 grams, which can be broken into 6 to 11 single servings. Here are some examples of single servings:

  • 1 slice whole-wheat, whole-rye or other whole-grain bread
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, white rice or wild rice
  • 1/2 cup cooked whole-grain cereal
  • 1 ounce whole-grain, ready-to-eat cereal
  • 1/2 cup cooked beans or peas
  • 1/2 cup cooked pasta
  • 1 corn or whole wheat tortilla

Fats
Limit to about 30 percent of the total calories. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are needed for the development of baby's brain and eyes. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is not more than 73 grams for a 2,200-calorie diet and 83 grams for a 2,500-calorie diet, which can be broken into 4 full or 8 half servings from the list below:

Full Servings

  • 8 ounces canned salmon
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon regular margarine or butter
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons regular salad dressing

Half Servings

  • 1 ounce cheese
  • 1-1/2 ounces of skim milk mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons light cream
  • 1 tablespoon heavy or whipped cream
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup whole milk yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup regular ice cream

Water
Vital for tissue growth and human life. Pregnant women should consume an average of 6 to 8 glasses of water and/or juices each day.

Folic Acid
Essential for normal cell division and protects against certain types of birth defects like the neural tube defect spina bifida. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 600 micro grams. Can be found in orange juice, deep-green leafy vegetables, liver, whole grains and cereals.

Calcium
Builds and maintain bones and prevents pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 1,000 milligrams. Below are single servings of calcium with approximately 300 milligrams of calcium per serving:

  • 8 ounces skim or low-fat milk
  • 1-1/2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
  • 6-8 ounces low-fat plain yogurt
  • 1-1/2 ounces American or Cheddar cheese
  • 6 ounces calcium-added orange juice
  • 4 ounces canned salmon with bones

Vitamin D
Builds strong bones for both mother and the baby. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 200 IU and can be found in fortified milk and cereals, salmon, sardines and egg yolks.

Vitamin A
Maintains the immune system and aids in bone, tooth, cell and tissue growth. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 770 micro grams and can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, collards, apricots, mangoes, cantaloupe, peaches and fortified milk.

Vitamin E
Protects tissues from free-radical damage that can weaken the immune system. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 15 IU and can be found in wheat germ, safflower oil, nuts and spinach.

Vitamins B1, B2, & B3
Converts food into energy and helps in digestion and  necessary for the normal growth of the baby's body and brain. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 1.4 milligrams B1, 1.4 milligrams B2 and 18 milligrams B3. These can be found in whole grains, wheat germ, peanuts, green peas, dark-green leafy vegetables, lean pork, cooked dried beans and peas, extra-lean meats and nonfat milk products.

Vitamin B6
Helps in the production of neurotransmitters and protein for new cells, and reduces nausea in pregnant women. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 1.9 milligrams. One can find it in chicken, fish, extra-lean meat, avocado, potatoes, bananas, whole grains, wheat germ, nuts, seeds and cooked dried beans and peas.

Vitamin C
Heals body from injury and protects from disease. The average daily requirement for pregnant women is 85 milligrams. Have at least two of the single servings listed below:

  • 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1 small orange
  • 1/2 cup orange or grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 medium mango
  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/4 cup cantaloupe
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 cup raw spinach
  • 2/3 cup cooked broccoli

Iron
Essential mineral component of red blood cells, helps prevent anemia and helps baby develop and gain weight, and might help prevent premature delivery. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 27 milligrams. Good sources of iron are extra-lean meat, fish, poultry, cooked dried beans and peas, dried apricots, dark-green leafy vegetables, raisins and whole grains.

Magnesium
Needed for energy metabolism, blood sugar regulation, normal muscle contraction, nerve transmission, uterine relaxation during pregnancy and contraction during labor. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 350 milligrams. Can be found in nonfat or low-fat milk, peanuts, bananas, wheat germ, whole grains, cooked dried beans and peas and dark-green leafy vegetables.

Copper
Essential for energy metabolism and formation of connective tissue and red blood cells. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 1.0 milligrams, which is found in chicken, fish, extra-lean meat, organ meats, whole grains, nuts and seeds, soybeans and dark-green leafy vegetables.

Zinc
Reduces risk of spontaneous abortion and premature delivery, helps prevent birth defects and aids in normal growth. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 11 milligrams, which is best found in extra-lean meat, turkey, cooked dried beans and peas, wheat germ and whole grains.

Iodine
Essential for proper thyroid function. Helps prevent a maternal deficiency, causing problems with fetal growth and brain development. Average daily requirement for pregnant women is 220 micro grams. Seafoods such as fish, shrimp, clams, etc. are rich dietary sources.