It’s only natural to want to do your very best to ensure that your baby is healthy, strong and thriving. Give their journey in the womb the best chance at success by making healthy food choices!
Let’s first look at the vitamins and nutrients needed to promote a healthy pregnancy. Protein not only contributes to building your muscles, breasts, uterus, and blood supply; it also helps Baby to develop healthy tissues. Your goal is to have at least 60 g of protein per day in your diet.
Calcium is needed to help Baby build strong bones and teeth. If your diet is short on calcium, your body will actually take it from your bones to supply the baby. Focus on getting at least 1,000 mg per day.
Iron is crucial to both you and Baby, to aid in the development of a healthy blood supply. Get your 27 mg per day by choosing iron-rich foods and taking a supplement. Zinc is another very important mineral during pregnancy. Getting 11mg per day will guard you and Baby against the long labor and infant health problems associated with a deficiency. Folate, or folic acid, guards against spinal cord and neural tube defects by helping to build strong protein tissue in early pregnancy. 0.4mg per day is needed to reduce the risk of these birth defects by 50 to 70%.
Vitamins B6 and B12 are needed during pregnancy. While severe deficiencies are rare, it is possible to be lacking in Vitamin B12 to the point that you would require a supplemental shot from your Doctor. Vegans are more likely than meat-eaters to have this deficiency as B12 is found in animal products.
Dietary fiber (30g daily), 8 cups of water, whole grains and a recommended prenatal vitamin will help you and Baby to stay in top form. If you’ve ever heard the old adage, “Eating for two, ” you might be wondering how on earth you’re going to eat all of this food! In fact, eating for two isn’t necessary at all. You will only need to add an additional 300 good quality calories per day to your diet. The key is to choose foods that contain a variety of necessary nutrients without empty calories to add unwanted weight and bulk to your body.
Fruits and vegetables are an obvious healthy choice. However, it is important to eat a wide variety to ensure that you are getting all of the different vitamins needed for a healthy pregnancy. Choose organic or pesticide free growers and always wash fruits and vegetables carefully before eating. Include 3 to 5 servings of vegetables and 2 to 4 servings of fruit each day. Choose 2 cups of loose, leafy spinach or kale; 1 cup of cooked carrots or broccoli; or 1 cup of pure vegetable juice as a serving. An example of a serving of fruit is 1 large orange, 1 cup of canned in water fruit, or 8 oz of pure fruit juice.
Milk and dairy intake helps to provide calcium, protein, Vitamin D and healthy fats to your diet. Aim for 3 servings a day. Try 1 cup skim milk, 2 cups cottage cheese, 1 cup yogurt or 1 ½ ounces of hard cheese; each equals one serving.
Meat and meat alternatives are packed with iron, protein and fats. Choose 1 egg, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, or 1 oz of lean meat, fish or poultry. Your 6 to 11 servings of grains and cereals should focus on whole grain, low fat choices. Try ½ cup of cooked wild rice, a slice of 100% whole grain bread, or ½ of a mini bagel to provide fiber, vitamins and minerals.
While there are no guarantees in pregnancy, taking these steps towards a healthy prenatal diet should comfort you in the way that you know you are doing everything possible to ensure the health of your baby.
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