Key Nutrients from Foods That Should Be Included in A Pregnancy Diet

Remember, eating for two when you’re pregnant is only an expression. It doesn’t give you the license to eat as much as you want. Likewise, it doesn’t mean you can eat whatever you feel like eating when you have cravings. If you think otherwise, then you could end up becoming overweight. When that happens, you’re putting yourself and your baby at risk.

A pregnant woman who’s overweight could suffer a miscarriage. Even if she’s able to carry the baby to term, she’s more susceptible to experience pre-eclampsia, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes. Chances are the baby is bigger when born and could even be obese.

Eating Right for Two Matters

Your calorie intake increases with your pregnancy stage. According to Eat Right, it’s not necessary for you to take additional calories during first trimester of pregnancy. However, by your second trimester, you’ll need to add 340 calories to your daily intake. By your third trimester, this increases to 450 calories. Remember, your calorie intake before pregnancy is the basis for the increase.

Eating right matters, especially as the calories you consume go up. Be sure to include the following nutrients in your pregnancy diet. In doing so, you’ll protect yourself and your baby from risks associated with overeating and making unhealthy choices.

Why You Need Foods Rich in Iron

You need iron to maintain and support the demands of your growing body. It fortifies your blood, which is important because it carries food to your baby. In addition, iron protects you from anemia and also prevents the possibility of premature delivery. The recommended daily intake is 27 milligrams and can be found in the following foods:

Foods Rich in Iron

  • Lean protein like beef, seafood, and poultry.
  • Whole grains like cereal, bread, oatmeal, and cornmeal.
  • Green leafy vegetables like cabbage, spinach, collard, turnip, and lettuce.

Why You Need Foods Rich in Protein

You need protein to support the baby’s organ development, which is why it’s called a builder nutrient. Daily consumption is necessary as the baby can’t store it. Additionally, protein also protects you from the effects of pregnancy on your body. The recommended daily intake is no more than 100 grams and excellent sources include:

Foods Rich in Protein

  • Legumes like chickpeas, black beans, and split peas.
  • Various meats like liver, chicken, lamb, and pork.
  • Nuts and tofu.

Why You Need Foods Rich in Calcium

You need to replace the calcium your baby gets from your body by eating foods rich in this nutrient. Your baby’s bones and muscles need calcium to develop. Likewise, to keep the baby’s circulatory and nervous systems running at their best, adequate calcium is essential. Not only that, but calcium also helps control body fluids. The recommended daily intake is 1,000 milligrams and can be found in these foods:

Foods Rich in Calcium

  • Dairy foods like milk, cheese, and low-fat yogurt.
  • Foods other than dairy, like salmon, almonds, and leafy greens.

Why You Need Foods Rich in B-Vitamins

Your B-Vitamin requirements include B9 (folic acid), B6, and B12. Folic acid or B9 helps prevent neural tube defects and you need a minimum of 400 mg daily. B6 aids red blood cell production and helps boost the immune system¾you need 1.9 mg daily. B12 works alongside B9 to minimize the chances of birth defects affecting the baby’s spine and central nervous system. These foods are the best for consuming B-vitamins:

Foods Rich in B-Vitamins

  • Foods rich in B9 include avocado, sprouts, egg noodles, and lentils.
  • Foods rich in B6 include sunflower seeds, prune juice, bananas, and hazelnuts.
  • Foods rich in B12 include shrimp, red meat, cod, and cottage cheese.

Why You Need Foods Rich in DHA

You should consume foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like DHA to minimize the risk of heart disease. Your baby benefits as well as it boosts the development of the brain and vision. In fact, a recent study in New Zealand showed that pregnant women don’t consume enough of this nutrient to meet the daily requirement. Therefore, you must get the recommended daily intake of 300 mg; try to consume these foods:

Foods Rich in DHA

  • Cold-water fish like anchovies, sardines and, salmon.
  • You can also take pure fish oil supplements.
  • Vegetarians can substitute with chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

Why You Need Foods Rich in Vitamin C

As a pregnant mother, you need vitamin C to boost your immunity levels. Furthermore, vitamin C also helps you take in iron from foods. Try to consume the following foods to achieve the recommended daily intake of 85 mg.

Foods Rich in Vitamin C

  • Fruits like strawberries, orange, and grapefruit.
  • Vegetables like broccoli, tomato, and sweet red pepper.

Eating right during your pregnancy not only benefits you, but also greatly supports the health of your unborn child. At Get Healthy Lab, we recommend that these nutrients are part of your pregnancy diet. Eating healthy can be fun, and adopting healthier eating habits during your pregnancy may carry on supporting you for the rest of your life.

Written by: Kimberley Wiles

Kimberley is a health enthusiast and advocate for the overall health of children and families in the community. She’s studying to become a dietitian and currently writes for In her spare time, she loves spending time with her beautiful family and traveling.