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Pregnancy and Diet

Additional Dietary Requirements and Demands on the Body During Pregnancy

The old wives’ tale about eating for two in pregnancy has been fairly well disproved over the years. Instead, that old adage has been replaced by the need to eat healthily. There are certainly additional calorie requirements at this time in life, but not really until the third trimester, when you’ll need extra energy to get around. But feeling drained or having morning sickness earlier on can make it easy to take extra calories a bit too far.

Being pregnant isn’t a reason to eat all we like. Instead, it’s a good opportunity to look at why we eat what we do. Interestingly when we’re pregnant our body becomes incredibly efficient at using the nutrients we consume. (Until it starts asking us for others, especially ones that raise eyebrows such as coal or chalk!)

But we need to make sure we have plenty of the following nutrients in reserve for when our body needs them:

Important Vitamins During Pregnancy

When it comes to pregnancy, one of the most important nutrients to take is folic acid. This is the much mentioned pregnancy supplement and helps guard against problems with the baby’s brain and spinal cord which can result in conditions such as spinal bifida. Current government recommendations are for 400 micrograms each day until the 12th week of pregnancy (this includes when you’re trying to conceive too). Top this up with plenty of green leafy vegetables, brown rice and fortified breakfast cereals which are all high in folic acid.

Good iron levels are also crucial in pregnancy – particularly in the latter stages as your growing baby needs more. As a result, many women can become increasingly tired. Iron-rich foods include red meat, nuts, green vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage, dried apricots and whole grains.

Vitamin D (also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as the body makes it from sunlight) is another vitamin with a big role to play in a healthy pregnancy – especially during the first few months. It helps with the formation of your baby’s bones and teeth. Your midwife will probably advise a supplement of around 10 micrograms every day during pregnancy and to continue if you’re breast feeding. Oily fish (i.e. tuna, mackerel and salmon) are good sources of vitamin D, as well as fortified breakfast cereals.

Vitamin C is another vital vitamin during pregnancy since it helps with healthy cell building. Fill up on vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables such as oranges, kiwi fruits, strawberries, broccoli and potatoes.

The final important pregnancy nutrient is calcium. It works alongside vitamin D in bone and teeth formation and can be found in dairy products, nuts, sardines, dried fruits and green leafy vegetables (especially watercress and kale).

Our Comprehensive DNA Test for Women will also help put you in good stead as you prepare for motherhood.

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