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Nutrition and Pregnancy



Choosing Healthy Foods


During your pregnancy, you will need extra food and nutrients. What you eat, as well as how much is important. The following nutrients are especially important.

IRON is needed for healthy blood, placenta development and growth of your baby.
  • Good food sources of iron are red meat, liver, dried beans and peas, dried fruit and fortified cereals.
  • Iron from plant foods is best absorbed if eaten with foods rich in vitamin C.
  • Good vitamin C sources are broccoli, cabbage, potatoes,green pepper, tomatoes and tomato products, orange andgrapefruit and their juices, strawberries and melons.
  • Tea and coffee, when consumed with meals, may interfere with the absorption of iron.
  • Because many women have low iron stores, your doctor may prescribe iron as part of a multi vitamin and mineral supplement.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS. Generally, everyone should consume fat in moderation, but it is important to consume enough essential fat for proper growth and development of your baby. Good sources of essential fats include:
  • Vegetable oil from canola, safflower, sunflower, peanut and flax.
  • Salad dressings made from canola, safflower, sunflower, peanut and flax oil.
  • Non-hydrogenated (soft-tub) margarines.
  • Fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines.
  • Flax seed products.
FOLIC ACID or FOLATE is necessary for healthy blood.
  • A folic acid supplement is recommended for all pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant (see page 9 for details) to help prevent neural tube defects.
  • Good food sources of folate are dark green lettuce, green peas, green beans, broccoli, dried peas and beans, oranges, melons, and enriched flour (baked and pasta products).
CALCIUM and VITAMIN D are necessary for strong bones and teeth. In the summer, some vitamin D is made by your body when your bare skin is exposed to sun. In the winter, you need to get vitamin D from foods. Milk is fortified with vitamin D and rich in calcium. Cheese and yogurt are good sources of protein and calcium but not vitamin D.

If you do not like to drink milk, try the following ideas:
  • Use milk in soups, puddings, sauces and casseroles.
  • Add skim milk powder to casseroles, puddings and soups.
  • Add cheese to casseroles, soups, salads and sandwiches.
  • Use plain yogurt as a vegetable dip and fruit yogurt as a fruit dip.
  • Blend milk, yogurt and fresh fruit together for a Fruit Smoothie.
  • Blend milk, yogurt, fresh herbs and soft raw or cooked vegetables for a Veggie Smoothie.
  • If you have an allergy or sensitivity to cow’s milk, calcium and vitamin D fortified soy beverages or yogurt and calcium fortified orange juice are possible alternatives.

    If you cannot digest lactose (milk sugar), lactose reduced milk is available in most grocery stores. Liquid drops that you add to milk, or tablets that you eat prior to drinking milk are also available to help you break down lactose.

    Other food sources of calcium are canned salmon (with bones), sardines, tofu (made with calcium), broccoli and toasted almonds. Ask your doctor, community health nutritionist or registered dietitian for other suggestions.


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All health care decisions should only be made with consultation from your physician.

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