Healthy eating is always important, but especially when you’re pregnant. This is not the time to cut calories or go on a diet. In fact, it’s just the opposite – you need about 300 extra calories a day, especially later in your pregnancy when your baby grows quickly. If you’re very thin or carrying twins, you’ll need even more. But if you’re overweight, your health care provider may advise that you consume fewer extra calories.
It’s important to make sure your calories come from nutritious foods so they can contribute to your baby’s growth and development. Try to maintain a well-balanced diet that incorporates the dietary guidelines including:
- lean meats
- whole-grain breads
- low-fat dairy products
Eating a healthy, balanced diet will probably give you the nutrients you need ,but you will need more of the essential nutrients (especially calcium, iron, and folic acid) than you did before you became pregnant. Your health care provider will prescribe prenatal vitamins to be sure both you and your growing baby are getting enough. You should not take any additional supplements unless you care provider OK’s it.
Supplements you may need
A folic acid supplement of 0.4 mg per day should be taken by healthy women (for several months in advance) who are planning to become pregnant and by women who are pregnant.
In the later stages of pregnancy, you require more iron, to help produce healthy red blood cells for you and your growing baby. Sometimes it’s difficult for women to consume enough iron from foods. Most doctors recommend that pregnant women take a daily iron supplement of 30 to 60 mg of elemental (ferrous) iron in addition to any other prenatal vitamins. Anemic women in particular may require an iron supplement. Discuss the possible need for iron supplementation with your doctor and pharmacist. You can also help your body better absorb dietary iron by eating iron-rich foods together with foods rich in vitamin C, such as berries, tomatoes, sweet peppers, and citrus fruits. For example, have a glass of orange juice with an enriched breakfast cereal. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your iron levels.
Vegetarians Supplementation during Pregnancy
Pregnant women who are vegetarian can still enjoy a carefully planned vegetarian diet. There are many health benefits to vegetarian diets, but women who are pregnant need to take extra care to get enough of the nutrients more easily supplied in non-vegetarian diets, especially protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. Keep in mind that the protein in vegetable proteins is less concentrated and less easily absorbed than in animal protein. You may need more or larger portions of your protein sources. Also, the amino acid (protein building blocks) balance is different in vegetable protein foods, so you need to eat a variety of foods (including a serving of protein) with each meal. Your doctor can talk to you about health supplements if you want to follow a vegetarian diet during pregnancy.
Supplementation and diet are also very important for male health see Prostate health for more details.