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Vital Nutrients For Pregnant People & Which Foods To Eat

Food consumption guidelines are straightforward to follow, and there are tons of delicious options to choose from.

Pregnancy brings so many physical and hormonal changes with it. Also, there are two of you eating because your nutritional needs increase (you will give your baby all the food he needs). To ensure that both you and your growing baby are getting the necessary nutrients, it is important to take prenatal vitamins and eat the right foods from different sources.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet will not only keep you strong and healthy, but also provide everything your baby needs to grow. Fortunately, the guidelines are easy to follow and there are tons of delicious options to choose from. So pregnancy won’t stop you from spicing up your menu. Even with cravings, you can put together a healthy menu in a short time. We have listed the nutrients needed during pregnancy and the foods that contain those nutrients.

8th protein


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Healthline states that protein is needed for proper growth of the tissues, muscles and organs of the fetus such as the brain. It also aids in uterine and breast tissue growth during pregnancy. It also helps increase blood supply so that extra blood can be sent to the fetus. So you need to increase your protein intake each trimester of pregnancy. You will need around 70 to 100 grams of protein a day based on your weight and the trimester you are in. Healthy sources of protein are:

  • Lean meats, including pork and beef
  • Fish, including salmon.
  • poultry
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • peanut butter
  • tofu
  • nuts
  • cottage cheese

7th calcium


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Calcium helps build strong teeth and bones and plays a vital role in the healthy functioning of the muscular, nervous and circulatory systems, including regulating your body’s fluid consumption. According to Kids Health, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers must take 1000 µg calcium per day. Calcium sources are:

  • Low-fat dairy products such as cheese, milk, yogurt
  • Calcium fortified cereals and orange juice
  • Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach.
  • Low-mercury seafood and fish such as catfish, shrimp, salmon, and canned light tuna
  • Calcium solid tofu

RELATED: Experts Discuss the Importance of Vitamin C for Mothers and Babies

6th Folic acid


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Folate, also known as folic acid, plays an important role in lowering the risk of neural birth defects. These birth defects affect the baby’s spinal cord and brain. Examples are anencephaly and spina bifida. Folic acid promotes the healthy development of the spinal cord and brain and is required for the formation of white and red blood cells. According to John Muir Health, 600 to 800 micrograms of folic acid are recommended during pregnancy and can be obtained from:

  • Fortified cereals
  • Dried beans and lentils
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • nuts
  • Citrus fruits
  • liver
  • Eggs
  • peanut butter

5 iron


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Pregnant and nursing mothers must follow an iron-rich diet and daily supplementation to prevent iron deficiency anemia. Iron works with potassium, water, and sodium to increase blood flow and ensure that you and the baby are getting adequate oxygen. Doctors recommend 27 µg iron daily along with vitamin C to increase absorption. According to Live Science, iron sources include:

  • Lean meat and poultry
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fortified cereals
  • Legumes (lentils, beans, peas)
  • Fortified bread or cereals
  • Eggs

4th given


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Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a type of fat (known as omega-3 fatty acid) that supports growth and development. You need omega-3s for the baby’s eyes and brain to develop. Good sources of DHA are:

  • salmon
  • herring
  • Halibut
  • Trout
  • Anchovies
  • shrimp
  • catfish
  • Tilapia
  • Orange juice, juice and milk with DHA added

3 iodine

Iodized salt

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Iodine helps the thyroid produce hormones that support the growth and development of the baby’s brain. Insufficient iron during pregnancy can put your baby at risk for cognitive delays and thyroid problems. Pregnant and nursing mothers must therefore add iodized salt to their food, consume 150 µg iodide and consume iodine-rich foods such as dairy products and seafood.

According to the March of Dimes, sources of iodine include:

  • fish
  • Yogurt, cheese and milk.
  • Fortified bread and cereal
  • Iodized salt

2 Carbohydrates & fiber

Lean meat

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Carbohydrates give you the energy you need to support the baby’s growth and development. Sources are fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. On the other hand, fiber relieves constipation, which is often associated with pregnancy. Sources are whole grains, fruits, legumes, and vegetables.

1 Vitamins


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Some of the vitamins to take include:

  • Vitamin A.– It helps develop a baby’s eyes, heart, and immune system. However, vitamins shouldn’t have too little or too much vitamin A, as this can harm the baby. Avoid ingesting more than 1,500 µg of vitamin A. Sources include orange fruits, milk, and dark leafy greens and vegetables, including carrots, melon, and sweet potatoes.
  • Vitamin B6– Sources are fish, poultry, fortified grains, whole grains, and bananas.
  • Vitamin B12– Sources are lean meat, fish and poultry, and low-fat and fat-free milk.
  • vitamin C– Sources are broccoli, citrus fruits, strawberries, fortified fruit juices, and tomatoes.
  • Vitamin D– Sources are fortified orange juice, fat-free or low-fat milk, salmon and egg yolks.

NEXT: Deficiency of Vitamin D in Pregnancy-Related ADHD in Children

Sources: Healthline, John Muir Health, Child Health, Live Science, March of Dimes

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About the author

Karen Samuels
(709 articles published)

Karen is a mom who loves to write. For four years she has been writing about pregnancy, parenting, motherhood and the reality of raising children. She has worked with Woman Junction, BabyGaga, The Talko, The Things, and other websites. For inquiries, please send an email to

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