Nutrition During Pregnancy
Nutrition before and during pregnancy is vital, but often overlooked. As a pregnant individual it is important to provide the best nutrients during a pregnancy for you and your baby. Nutrition plays a role in influencing fertility and outcomes of pregnancy.
Let’s discuss the 4 key vitamins to focus on during pregnancy: Iron, Folic Acid, Iodine, and Choline
*Please consult with an OB/GYN and/or nutritionist before adding or changing your diet*
Folate/ Folic Acid
It is recommended that an individual trying to get pregnant start taking folic acid before becoming pregnant. Insufficient levels of folic acid can cause neural tube defects such as spina bifida – a condition that affects the spine, and anencephaly – a serious birth defect where a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. These congenital diseases are preventative with appropriate amounts of folic acid during preconception and pregnancy. Great sources of folic acid are dark green vegetables, beans, peas, citrus fruits, bread, pasta, rice, and cereal. Women who are trying or are pregnant may need to take an additional folic acid vitamin supplement.
Being aware of your iron status during preconception and pregnancy is necessary. Consuming adequate levels of iron can help prevent iron-deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia in the beginning of pregnancy can increase the risk of preterm and low birthweight babies. Iron aids in the baby’s growth and development. A woman’s iron status can be improved by regular consumption of vitamin C. Red lean
meats, poultry, some seafood, dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, soybeans, and lima beans are other great sources of iron.
Iodine is another essential vitamin to consume during pregnancy. This vitamin is important for the baby’s brain development, thyroid function, and energy production. Prenatal supplements do contain iodine, however, some may not have enough. Helpful tip – when adding salt to food, be sure to choose iodized salt. Iodine food sources are seafood such as shrimp, cod and tuna, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and eggs.
The final vitamin to focus on during pregnancy is choline. This vitamin aids in a baby’s optimal brain growth, spine development, and intellectual development. Again, prenatal supplements have choline, but some do not have enough. Consuming eggs, beef, chicken, cod, white beans, and kidney beans are great sources of choline.
Educating oneself and implementing healthy eating behaviors will give the best chance for a successful pregnancy. It is important to visit your doctor regularly and consult with a nutritionist if needed.
Reminder – there is no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. It is strongly recommended to avoid any alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
This blog was written by Shelby, an intern with Immunize Nevada.
Brown, Judith E. Nutrition Through the Life Cycle. Cengage, 2020