Pregnancy and Nutrition: Super Foods and Vitamins

pregnancy and nutrition super foods

Pregnant or not, what you put into your body is extremely important. Everyone knows that. Still, when you’re with child, your diet becomes something you should think about even more. After all, you want to make sure you’re getting the proper nutrients to sustain you and to also facilitate the development of your growing child.

“It’s best to start thinking about diet and lifestyle choices before pregnancy,” notes Bridget Swinney, registered dietician and the author of Eating Expectantly: Practical Advice for Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy. “Women should know that the nutrition environment before and during pregnancy can ‘program’ a baby for a lifetime of good — or not so good — health.”

5 Super Foods to Eat While Pregnant

Swinney has a complete list of super foods she recommends for pre-pregnancy and pregnancy. Here’s the abbreviated version:

Lean beef: This is an excellent source of protein, Zinc, vitamin B12 and Selenium. It’s also a good source of vitamin B6 and iron. A small serving give lots of nutrition, says Swinney.

Salmon: This fatty fish (the good kind of fatty!) is an excellent source of DHA and EPA, which are important for brain and eye development. It is also very low in mercury, unlike some other fishes.

Lentils: Delicious lentils are a superior source of folate, fiber, protein, iron, manganese potassium and vitamin B1. “I also love lentils because they are cheap and don’t require soaking before cooking,” says Swinney.

Spinach: This dark, leafy green provides all the vitamin A you need for a day. Swinney says it is also one of the best sources of lutein, an antioxidant that’s important for your baby’s developing retina and brain.

Berries: “Whether it’s strawberries, blueberries, cranberries or raspberries, the berry family provides vitamin C, fiber, folic acid and antioxidants that are important during pregnancy to fight inflammation,” says Swinney. “Cranberries in particular are a plus during pregnancy because they contain a special component (proanthocyanidins), which prevent bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract and GI tract.” She says that cranberries — and cranberry juice — help prevent urinary tract infections, which are more common during pregnancy. In worst-case scenarios, UTIs can lead to pre-term birth.

Taking Vitamins

Ultimately, you should speak to your physician about specific vitamins to take. That said, there’s some general advice when it comes to taking vitamins pre-pregnancy and while pregnant.

“Most pregnant women take prenatal vitamins, which cover most nutrients,” says Swinney. She says that women should read over the labels on their prenatal vitamins to make sure they contain iodine, which is important for fetal brain development. Not all prenatal vitamins contain iodine, so it’s best to check.

Swinney also recommends a DHA supplement of 200 to 300 mg to help promote healthy brain and eye development.

Vitamin D is another important vitamin to take. “Many women are deficient in vitamin D and the amount found in a prenatal vitamin is often not enough,” says Swinney. “It’s best to get vitamin D level tested to determine how much is needed.” Vitamin D deficiency is associated with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes and rickets in children born to D deficient moms.

Again, when it comes to your diet and vitamin regimen, it’s best to speak with your doctor, who can customize a plan that works best for you.


This page was last updated on 06/2017
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