"Do this, don’t do that…” How can you keep it all straight through the fog of “baby brain?” Here’s what you need to know about the foods you should be sure to consume when pregnant, with target amounts, and which foods you should avoid.
Nods—Foods you should eat
Proteins: Lean meats, beans, nuts, shrimp, and tofu help to fuel fetal growth.
Calcium-rich foods: Dairy products, eggs, white beans, and almonds are all good sources of calcium, and they help your baby grow strong teeth and bones.
Iron: Iron is an important part of hemoglobin, a substance in the blood that carries oxygen throughout the body. To ensure you and baby get enough oxygen during pregnancy, make sure you get enough iron. Try whole grains, green leafy veggies, and proteins.
Folate/Folic acid: Fruits, whole grains, dark greens, and legumes are all rich in folic acid. This nutrient can help reduce the risk of spina bifida and other neural tube defects.
Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, melons, tomatoes, and peppers are great sources of vitamin C, which promotes tooth and bone development and boosts metabolic processes.
Nixes—Foods you should avoid
High-mercury seafood: Avoid seafood with high levels of mercury: tuna, swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish.
Undercooked meat, seafood, poultry, or eggs: Bacteria and viruses that remain when these foods don’t reach proper cooking temperatures can increase your risk of food poisoning. Avoid raw, pre-stuffed poultry and raw clams or oysters.
Unpasteurized foods: Foods that haven’t been pasteurized can cause foodborne illness. Check labels on milk and on Brie, feta, Camembert, and blue to be sure they have been pasteurized.
Alcohol: No alcohol is safe when you’re pregnant. It can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or fetal alcohol syndrome, which can result in deformities, mental retardation, and other health issues for your baby.
Supplements can boost nutritional intake, but which are right for you? ->
Eating a balanced diet is the best way to ensure you and baby get the nutrition you need. But sometimes diets fall short, especially if you already have young ones whom you’re chasing after. Supplements can boost nutritional intake, but be sure to check with your obstetrician before taking them. Here is a list of vitamins, how much you should take of each, and their associated benefits (and potential detriments if you consume too much).
Folic acid: 400–800 mcg daily
• Helps prevent birth defects like spina bifida and brain malformation
• Aids in development of the fetal neural tube, which later becomes the brain and spinal cord
• Helpful in preventing cleft palate, premature birth, low birth-weight, preeclampsia, and miscarriage
• Reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers in moms
• Too much can mask signs of vitamin B12 deficiency.
Calcium: 1000 mg daily
• Builds strong bones and teeth
• Helpful in preventing preeclampsia
• If calcium is lacking, the fetus takes this mineral from the mother’s bones, later leading to maternal osteoporosis.
• Large amounts can affect kidney function.
Iron: 30 mg daily, with orange juice to help absorption
• Helps prevent anemia
• Needed to develop muscles for both baby and mother
• Works to prevent low birth-weight and early delivery
• Too much can cause constipation and upset stomach.
Omega-3 fatty acid: 300 mg DHA daily
• DHA, an essential Omega 3 fatty acid, helps to balance prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that aid in fetal brain and eye development
• May decrease the risk of postpartum depression
• Too much can cause stomach upset and diarrhea; very high doses can increase bleeding risk.
LaNeta Crighton is a registered nurse and mom of three from Harding Township.
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