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Nutrients of Concern during Pregnancy

Why do you think it’s important during pregnancy to get proper nutrients? Develop a list of why it is important for both mom and baby to ensure proper nutrition during pregnancy.


Benefits for baby Benefits for Mom
Proper growth and development Prevention of deficiencies
Adequate brain development Prevention of fatigue
Maintain a healthy weight throughout development and at birth Maintenance of a healthy weight
Receive the adequate nutrition to prevent defects or deficiencies Feel better throughout pregnancy


There are certain nutrients that you need more of during pregnancy.  Often you can receive adequate amounts by simply adjusting the amount of certain foods you eat; other requirements can only be met by taking a vitamin supplement.  Today we will discuss the most important nutrients you need during your pregnancy.

  1. FOLIC ACID – prevention of neural tube defects

Folate is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects, abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord and helps to produce healthy blood for both mom and baby.  In addition, if there is a lack of this nutrient in the diet it may increase the risk of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs), low birth weight and preterm delivery.

How much you need:  800 micrograms of folic acid a day before conception and throughout pregnancy

Good Sources: fortified cereals, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and dried beans and peas

In addition to choosing these foods in your diet, it is recommended to start taking a daily prenatal vitamin 3 months before conception as this nutrient is often hard to reach recommended levels through food alone.

  1. CALCIUM – strong bones and teeth

Calcium ensures you and your baby will develop and maintain strong bones and teeth.   Calcium also helps your circulatory, muscular, and nervous system run normally.

How much you need: 1,000 milligrams a day. 

Good Sources: Dairy products (e.g., low fat milk and cheese, yogurt) are the best source of calcium.  Many fruit juices and breakfast cereals are fortified with calcium, as well.

  1. IRON – production of healthy blood

Iron is important in the production of healthy blood for both you and your baby.

How much you need: 27 milligrams a day

Good Sources: fish and seafood, poultry, red meat, eggs and seeds and nuts

In addition to choosing these foods in your diet, it may be helpful to take a daily prenatal vitamin as this nutrient is often hard to reach recommended levels through food alone.

  1. PROTEIN – proper development of baby and surrounding tissues

Protein is essential to the development of your baby, especially in the latter parts of the pregnancy.  Protein is the building blocks of many tissues in the body, it is crucial in the development of these in your growing baby.  It is also important in uterus and placenta development, both which are crucial to a healthy pregnancy and baby.

How much you need: 70 grams per day

Good Sources: beans, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, tofu, and yogurt.  Try to aim for 3-4 servings of protein a day.

  1. VITAMIN A – very important in embryonic growth, in particular the vital organs and central nervous system

Vitamin A is important for the development of the heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, and bones, and the circulatory, respiratory and central nervous system.  It also helps with infection resistance and fat metabolism.  This nutrient is also very important to the mom, in particular those who are close to their due date, because it helps with post-partum tissue repair.

How much you need: 770 micrograms per day

Good Sources: meat, dairy, fish, eggs, and fortified cereals

NOTE: it is important during pregnancy not to get too much of the preformed vitamin A, which in high doses can cause birth defects and liver toxicity.  This particular type of vitamin A is found in animal sources and fortified foods.

  1. VITAMIN D – promotes bone strength

Vitamin D is important in bone development and strength, and teeth formation.

How much you need: 600 International Units per day

Good Sources: fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, also fortified milk and orange juice


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