This post will give you some idea about the nutrients you need to consider when you are trying to conceive or are pregnant. You don’t have to eat for two, but you do have to pay more attention to your diet toy make sure you and your baby are getting the goodness you need.
This is taken from the BBC web site which has loads more about healthy eating for conception and pregnancy:
Most of the extra calories needed in pregnancy are required in the last three months It’s estimated you need around 300 kcals extra each day. If you’re less active during the last three months of pregnancy, this may mean you need very little extra food, because you’re not expending as much energy. If you continue to stay active, a snack of a couple of slices of toast with spread and a glass of milk or a yoghurt may be all you need.
Most people eat more than enough protein so there’s no need to increase your protein intake. Try to follow healthy eating principles and include some lean meat, fish or poultry, dairy products, grains, nuts and pulses in your meals.
It’s particularly important to eat more fibre in pregnancy to avoid the common niggles ofconstipation and piles (haemorrhoids). Increase your fibre intake by eating fruit and vegetables, wholemeal bread and cereals, brown rice, wholemeal pasta and pulses. You should also drink more fluids because increasing fibre intake without enough liquid can make constipation worse.
Mothers who lack sufficient folic acid before conception and in early pregnancy are at increased risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect (NTD), such as spina bifida.
From the moment you start trying to conceive until the end of week 12 of your pregnancy, you should take a daily 400 microgram supplement of folic acid. Women with a history of NTDs should be prescribed a 5mg supplement.
These supplements should be in addition to dietary intake, which should be about 200 micrograms per day. You can boost your folic acid intake by choosing foods such as:
- Green leafy vegetables – cabbage, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, spring greens, kale, okra and fresh peas.
- Pulses – chickpeas, black-eyed beans and lentils
- Fortified breakfast cereals.
- Wholemeal and wholegrain breads and rolls or those fortified with folic acid.
Folic acid is easily lost during cooking, so steam vegetables or cook in only a little water for a short time to retain as much goodness as possible. Supermarkets and food manufacturers often identify good sources of folic acid with a special label. Look out for these next time you go shopping.
Your iron levels will be measured throughout pregnancy, and if they’re found to be low you’ll be prescribed an iron supplement. Pregnant women should try to maintain a good iron intake from their diet to obtain the other nutrients in these foods.
Good sources of iron can be split into two categories: meat-based (haem) and plant-based (non-haem). The body doesn’t absorb iron from non-meat foods as easily as it does from meat sources. However, you can enhance iron absorption by including a source of vitamin C with your meal. Tannins found in black tea reduce the absorption. So, it’s better to have a glass of orange juice with your bowl of cereal in the morning rather than a cup of tea.
Too much vitamin A can build up in the liver and harm an unborn baby. So, although liver and liver products, such as paté and liver sausage, are good sources of iron, their high concentrations of vitamin A have led the UK Department of Health to advise pregnant women and women trying to conceive to avoid liver and liver products.
Some vitamin supplements and fish liver oil supplements are high in vitamin A, so always choose a specially prepared pregnancy supplement if you take one.
Eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods to help you use iron effectivelyGood sources include citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, grapefruit and lemons), blackcurrants, strawberries, kiwi fruit, peppers, tomatoes and green leafy vegetables. Aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day; a drink of fruit or vegetable juice counts as one portion.
Vitamin D is essential for forming and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. It’s found in only a few foods, including fortified margarines and reduced-fat spreads, some fortified breakfast cereals, oily fish and meat. A small amount can also be found in milk and eggs. The body also makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Current recommendations are that pregnant women should take a 10 microgram supplement of vitamin D every day. Pregnant and breastfeeding women with dark skin, or those who always cover their skin, are at particular risk of a vitamin D deficiency.
Your needs for calcium double during pregnancy, and are particularly high during the last ten weeks when calcium is being laid down in your baby’s bones. Your body adapts to absorb more calcium from foods eaten, so you don’t actually need to eat more of it in late pregnancy, as long as it’s present in your diet anyway.
Continue to ensure your diet has milk and dairy foods such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais. Official advice is to have three servings every day – and typical servings include a glass of milk, milk with cereal, a small matchbox size chunk of hard cheese or a small pot of yoghurt (125g to 150g). Other sources of calcium include bread, green vegetables, canned fish with soft, edible bones (salmon, sardines and pilchards), dried apricots, sesame seeds, tofu, fortified orange juice and fortified soya milk.