Pregnancy Nutritients and Vitamins

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women should increase their usual servings of a variety of foods from five basic food groups to include the following:

  • Three to four servings of fruits and vegetables
  • Nine servings of whole-grain or enriched bread, cereal, rice, or pasta for energy
  • Three servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese for calcium
  • Three servings of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, dried beans, and peas for protein

A balanced diet is the best way to receive nutrients, but vitamin supplements can also be beneficial. Pregnant women should only take vitamin supplements on a health care provider’s recommendation. Supplements do not replace a healthy diet but rather ensure that a woman is receiving enough daily nutrients. Vitamin supplements work best when taken as part of a healthy diet and not as a substitute for a healthy diet.

Essential Vitamin/Mineral: Why You Need It: Where You Find It:
Vitamin A & Beta Carotene (700 mcg) Helps bones and teeth grow Liver, milk, eggs, carrots, spinach, green and yellow vegetables, broccoli, potatoes, pumpkin, yellow fruits, cantaloupe
Vitamin D (5 mcg) Helps body use calcium and phosphorus; promotes strong teeth and bones Milk, fatty fish, sunshine
Vitamin E (15 mg) Helps body form and use red blood cells and muscles Vegetable oil, wheat germ, nuts, spinach, fortified cereals
Vitamin C (80 – 85 mg) An antioxidant that protects tissues from damage and helps body absorb iron; builds healthy immune system Citrus fruits, bell peppers, green beans, strawberries, papaya, potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes
Thiamin/B1 (1.4 mg) Raises energy level and regulates nervous system Whole grain, fortified cereals, wheat germ, organ meats, eggs, rice, pasta, berries, nuts, legumes, pork
Riboflavin/B2 (1.4 mg) Maintains energy, good eyesight, healthy skin Meats, poultry, fish, dairy products, fortified cereals, eggs
Niacin/B3 (18 mg) Promotes healthy skin, nerves and digestion High-protein foods, fortified cereals and breads, meats, fish, milk, eggs, peanuts
Pyridoxine/B6 (1.9 mg) Helps form red blood cells; helps with morning sickness Chicken, fish, liver, pork, eggs, soybeans, carrots, cabbage, cantaloupe, peas, spinach, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, bananas, beans, broccoli, brown rice, oats, bran, peanuts,walnuts
Folic Acid/Folate (600 mcg) Helps support the placenta, and prevents spina bifida and other neural tube defects Oranges, orange juice, strawberries, green leafy vegetables, spinach, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, fortified cereals, peas, pasta, beans, nuts
Calcium (1,000 – 1,300 mg) Creates strong bones and teeth, helps prevent blood clots, helps muscles and nerves function Yogurt, milk, cheddar cheese, calcium-fortified foods like soy milk, juices, breads, cereals, dark green leafy vegetables, canned fish with bones
Iron (27 mg) Helps in the production of hemoglobin; prevents anemia, low birth weight, and premature delivery Beef, pork, dried beans, spinach, dried fruits, wheat germ, oatmeal or grains fortified with iron
Protein (60 mg) Helps in the production of amino acids; repairs cells Most animal foods, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, veggie burgers, beans, legumes, nuts
Zinc (11-12 mg) Helps produce insulin and enzymes Red meats, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, fortified cereals, oysters, dairy products
Last Updated: 09/2009

Compiled using information from the following sources:

Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ch. 6.

Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, http://www.iom.edu/

American Pregnancy Association, http://www.americanpregnancy.org

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