Healthy Eating during Pregnancy

magnesium, and chloride, sodium’s main role is to
keep water balance in the body and the acid-base
balance of body fluids.
Sodium requirements for pregnant
or breastfeeding women are not dif-
ferent from those of other women.
The IOM recommends no more
than 1,500 mg of sodium per day
(3,800 mg of salt). It is estimated
that individuals in the United States
consume almost twice the recommended
amount daily (3,200 mg).
At one time, salt was restricted during pregnancy to
reduce the incidence of toxemia (a condition with symp-
toms including high blood pressure, fluid retention and
protein in the urine). However, there is no scientific evi-
dence that restricting sodium will prevent toxemia.
Women who have been advised by their healthcare
provider to limit their sodium intake before becoming
pregnant should continue to do so.
There is no data to support how much alcohol is safe
to drink during pregnancy. Therefore, most health
care providers recommend drinking no alcohol during
pregnancy. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy
can cause a number of birth defects, ranging from
mild to severe. Babies born to mothers who con-
sumed alcohol during pregnancy may suffer from
mental retardation; learning, emotional, and behav-
ioral problems; and defects involving the heart, face,
and other organs. Also, women who may be pregnant
or are trying to get pregnant should not drink alcohol.
Some women are concerned about having consumed
moderate amounts of alcohol soon after conception,
before becoming aware of their pregnancy. Generally,
women should not worry if they consumed small
amounts of alcohol during this time. However, they
should stop drinking alcohol as soon as they find out
they are pregnant.
Most nutritional needs can be met through a balanced
diet, but many experts recommend that pregnant
women take a daily vitamin/mineral supplement as
well. Vegans, women under age 25, and those who
don’t consume dairy products (such as those individu-
als with lactose intolerance or milk allergy) should
also take a calcium supplement (600 mg per day) plus
Vitamin D.
Vitamin/mineral supplements are
especially recommended for
pregnant women who may be at
nutritional risk. This includes
women who are strict vegetarians
and consume no animal products,
those who are breastfeeding, following
restrictive diets, are heavy cigarette smokers,
consume high amounts of alcohol (multiple drinks per
day), or who are carrying twins or triplets. For strict
vegetarians who consume no animal products, vitamin
B12 supplements (and perhaps vitamin D and zinc) are
also recommended.
Vitamin A supplements are not recommended during
pregnancy, except at low levels, because excessive lev-
els of Vitamin A could be toxic to the developing baby.
Adequate levels are available through a healthful diet.
There is no evidence that taking Vitamin B6 is an
effective treatment for morning sickness, nor is there
scientific evidence to support benefits from herbal
products. In fact, some herbal products may have seri-
ous side effects.
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