What Nutrients Need To Be Increased During Pregnancy Ati What Nutrients Increase During Pregnancy

Summary: Proper nutrition is crucial during pregnancy for the health of both mother and baby. In addition to a generally healthy diet, there are several key nutrients that need to be increased during pregnancy to ensure proper fetal development and prevent complications.

1. Folic Acid

Folic acid, also known as folate, is an essential nutrient during pregnancy. It is needed for proper neural tube development in the fetus, which occurs during the first month of pregnancy. Women who do not get enough folic acid are at risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida. The recommended daily intake of folic acid for pregnant women is 600-800 micrograms, which can be obtained through supplementation as well as from foods such as leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and fortified grains.

In addition to preventing neural tube defects, folic acid may also reduce the risk of other birth defects such as cleft lip and palate. It has also been linked to a lower risk of preterm birth and low birth weight. Because the neural tube develops so early in pregnancy, it’s recommended that women who are trying to conceive start taking a folic acid supplement before becoming pregnant.

It’s important for women to discuss their folic acid intake with their healthcare provider, as some women may need higher doses. Certain medications can also interfere with folic acid absorption, so it’s important to disclose all medication use to one’s healthcare provider.

2. Iron

Iron is needed to produce hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. During pregnancy, the body’s blood volume increases to support fetal growth, which means the mother needs more iron to produce additional hemoglobin. Iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy can lead to preterm delivery and low birth weight.

The recommended daily intake of iron for pregnant women is 27 milligrams. Iron can be obtained through both food sources and supplements. Good dietary sources of iron include red meat, poultry, fish, lentils, beans, fortified cereals, and leafy green vegetables. However, it can be difficult to obtain enough iron through diet alone, so many women require an iron supplement. It’s important to take iron supplements as directed, as too much iron can be harmful.

Iron absorption can also be affected by other nutrients. Vitamin C can enhance iron absorption, while calcium and caffeine can hinder it. Therefore, it’s important to balance iron intake with intake of these other nutrients.

3. Calcium

Calcium is needed for fetal bone development as well as for maintaining the mother’s bone health. If a pregnant woman does not consume enough calcium, the fetus will take calcium from the mother’s bones, which can lead to decreased bone density and increased risk of fractures later in life. The recommended daily intake of calcium for pregnant women under 18 is 1300 milligrams, and for women 19 years and older, it is 1000 milligrams.

Good dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, fortified foods such as orange juice and tofu, and certain types of fish such as salmon and sardines. However, if a woman is unable to consume enough calcium through her diet, supplementation may be necessary. It’s important to note that excessive calcium intake can lead to adverse effects, so it’s important to discuss calcium supplementation with a healthcare provider.

Vitamin D is also essential for calcium absorption, so women should ensure they receive adequate amounts of both nutrients. Vitamin D can be obtained through limited sun exposure as well as from dietary sources such as fatty fish and fortified foods. Supplementation may also be necessary.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for bone health in both the mother and fetus. It helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for bone development. In addition, vitamin D may play a role in immune system function and brain development.

The recommended daily intake of vitamin D for pregnant women is 600-800 international units (IU), which can be obtained through both sun exposure and dietary sources such as fatty fish, fortified dairy products and cereals, and supplements. However, it can be difficult to obtain enough vitamin D through food alone, especially for people living in northern latitudes or for those who avoid sun exposure or wear sunscreen. Therefore, many women require supplementation. It’s important to discuss vitamin D supplementation with a healthcare provider, as excessive amounts of vitamin D can lead to adverse effects.

Some women may be at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, including those who have limited sun exposure, are obese, have dark skin, or have a condition that affects vitamin D absorption. These women may require higher doses of vitamin D supplementation.

5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain and eye development in the fetus. They also play a role in maternal health, including reducing inflammation and decreasing risk of preterm labor.

The two main types of omega-3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA, which are found primarily in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and herring. However, many pregnant women are advised to limit their intake of certain types of fish due to concerns about mercury and other contaminants. Therefore, supplementation with fish oil or algae-based supplements may be necessary.

The recommended daily intake of EPA and DHA during pregnancy is 200-300 milligrams, although some healthcare providers may recommend higher doses depending on the individual’s needs. Women should discuss their omega-3 fatty acid intake with their healthcare provider.


In conclusion, proper nutrition during pregnancy is crucial for both mother and baby. Key nutrients that need to be increased during pregnancy include folic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are essential for proper fetal development and can help prevent complications such as neural tube defects, anemia, low birth weight, and preterm labor. Women should discuss their nutrient intake with their healthcare provider and strive to obtain these nutrients through a healthy diet and, if necessary, supplementation.

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