Healthy Eating during Pregnancy

flaxseeds. All women, including those
who are pregnant or breastfeeding
should follow these recommendations.
DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that is
important for babies brain and eye
development. Some experts now rec-
ommend that pregnant women get an
average dietary intake of 200 miligrams (mg) DHA per day. DHA is
found in oily fish such as salmon, and in supplements that may be
recommended by your healthcare provider. (For more information
on eating fish during pregnancy, see the Food Safety section of
this brochure.)
Calcium is needed for the growth of strong bones and teeth. Cal-
cium intake is very important for all women, particularly pregnant
women younger than 25 years old whose bones are still growing.
The calcium recommendation for pregnant women 19 to 50
years old is 1,000 mg per day. Many women who don’t consume
dairy products or don’t get enough calcium in their diet are ad-
vised to take a calcium supplement of 600 mg calcium per day.
Milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources of calcium. If your
healthcare provider is concerned about you gaining too much
weight, non-fat (skim) and low-fat (1%) dairy products supply
equal amounts of calcium with fewer calories than their higher-fat
(2% and whole) counterparts.
Other sources of calcium include dark green leafy vegetables
such as spinach, dried beans and peas, nuts and seeds, tofu
that has been supplemented with calcium and sardines. Calcium-
fortified foods, such as some orange juices, soymilk, and breakfast
cereals, are also good sources of calcium in the diet.
Women with lactose intolerance or a milk allergy may need
guidance from their allergist or healthcare provider on how to in-
clude sources of calcium into their diet.
Vitamin D is important for the absorption and use of calcium;
therefore, Vitamin D intake is also very important. Sunlight is one
source of Vitamin D. About five to ten minutes of sunlight to ex-
posed arms and/or the face can supply a day’s worth of Vitamin D,
depending on the season of year, latitude, and pigment of skin.
Dietary sources of Vitamin D are limited, but can include milk with
added Vitamin D, oily fish (salmon, sardines, whitefish), some forti-
fied cereals, and supplements. Five micrograms (mcg) of Vitamin D
are recommended per day.
Recommended Weight Gain
Underweight 28–40
(BMI < 19.8)
Normal weight 25–35
(BMI 19.8 to 25)
Overweight 15–25
(BMI 26 to 29)
Obese 11-20
(BMI > 29)
Twin Gestation 35–45
(any BMI)
Triplet Gestation 50
(any BMI)
Women who are at greater risk for delivering
low birthweight babies, including adolescents,
African-American women, and others should
be monitored for optimal weight gain and
dietary quality throughout pregnancy.
*Body mass index, or BMI, is an indicator of
body fat based on two common measurements,
height and weight. Because it reflects body
composition such as body fat and lean body
mass, BMI is considered a more accurate
indicator than height/weight tables.
Calculate your BMI at
Breakfast is a time to
fit healthful carbohydrates
into the diet.
Institute of Medicine. Weight Gain During Pregnancy:
Reexamining the Guidelines. Washington, DC: National
Academy Press, May 2009.
Brown, JE, Carlson, M. Nutrition and multifetal pregnancy.
J Am Diet Assoc, 2000; 00:343-348.
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