National Nutrition Week highlights the importance of a balanced diet to ensure the proper intake of every nutrient.
A balanced diet is essential for every individual and more so for pregnant women. Generally, people think that a pregnant woman needs to eat for two, but in scientific facts pregnant women need to have exactly 300 kilocalories more than a non-pregnant woman.
Her diet should contain adequate amounts of different nutrient like protein (65 gm), iron (27mg/day), folate, calcium, iodine, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B6 and many more. Here are the top essential nutrients required by a pregnant woman for a healthy baby.
Tops nutrients for a pregnant woman
Absorption of iron is better from animal food, but for vegetarians is jaggery and dates are a good source of iron. Low iron levels in early pregnancy are linked with premature birth and low birth weight. Adding a glass of fruit juice, lemon water or other foods rich in vitamin C (such as tomato, broccoli) to meals will increase the amount of iron the body absorbs.
2. Folic acid
It is an essential vitamin for pregnant woman, which prevents spinal cord abnormalities in the baby and anencephaly in babies.
Zinc is an essential micronutrient that helps to maintain structural integrity of proteins, also required for rapid cell growth that occurs during pregnancy. It is found in whole grain cereal, milk, sea food and legumes.
4. Calcium and Vitamin D
Calcium and Vitamin D are required for bone growth and teeth of unborn baby. Calcium helps in development of bones and teeth and vitamin D helps in better absorption of calcium from the diet. Incorporating these into the regular diet of an expecting woman is not difficult, just a mindful arrangement of the diet with lots of veggies, pulses, and adequate amount of cereals, does the work extremely well.
Breakfast cereal, dried fruits likes figs, apricots, almonds, tofu and green vegetables like broccoli are other good source of calcium. Whereas, sunlight is a good source of vitamin D and lets the body absorb calcium well.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is required for iron absorption and formation of collagen in blood vessels. Citrus fruits and vegetables are an excellent source of the same.
Other essential nutrients
A high fibre diet prevents constipation in pregnancy. It is also recommendable that a mixture of equal portions of olive oil, rice bran oil and mustard oil is used for cooking to ensure, consumption of Omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids, oryzanol, vitamin E and other antioxidants though the daily diet.
Aforementioned things discuss what is beneficial in pregnancy, now a few things to be avoided in pregnancy like papaya as it contains papain enzyme which is unsafe during pregnancy and aginomoto which contains monosodium glutamate and is used as taste enhancer in various food items which is again should not be taken even during normal conditions reason being it is carcinogenic in nature that is found to increase the risk of cancer.
Alongside these, a pregnant woman should avoid aerated drinks and processed food so that gastric problem, which is seen to increase during pregnancy, can be minimised.