Maintaining an adequate diet is always vital at any time of life, but it is even more important during pregnancy. At this stage it is essential to take care of the different nutritional needs, providing the body with all those nutrients that are so necessary during the 9 months that gestation usually lasts.
During the 270 days that the pregnancy tends to last, numerous changes occur in the woman's body, which offer the possibility of allowing the future baby to be accommodated, its development and growth.
Although everything depends on the constitution of the future mother, whether or not she carries out physical exercise and maintains a rather active and regular physical activity, if she maintains an ideal weight or not ... there are a series of nutrients that are fundamental and essential during the period of gestation.
And what are those essential nutrients? They are the following:
During pregnancy there is a significant increase in protein needs by the future mother. This is due to the growth and development of the baby, and to the formation of new maternal structures that allow the normal development of pregnancy.
In fact, they become the main element for the formation of the placenta and other bodily structures in the mother, such as the breasts and their changes to prepare for lactation, the uterus or a greater blood volume.
They are essential because they favor the production of blood, and are also essential in the growth of cells.
How much protein is needed during pregnancy? During pregnancy it is recommended to maintain a varied diet rich in proteins. For example, for a woman weighing 60 kg, she would need to consume around 70 g of protein each day. However, this amount should increase as the pregnancy progresses, especially when you gain weight.
Where to find them? We can find good quality proteins (also known as high biological value) in dairy, meat and fish. We must also mention vegetable proteins, such as those found in legumes, cereals and nuts.
Carbohydrates are essential because they benefit the production of daily energy, so important during pregnancy. In fact, along with fats, they are the main source of energy for both the future mother and the baby.
For this reason, maintaining an inadequate diet with an insufficient amount of carbohydrates tends to cause fatigue, lack of energy and hunger pangs throughout pregnancy.
We must differentiate between simple and complex carbohydrates. While the former are rapidly absorbed, the latter tend not to cause peaks of glucose in the blood because they are digested slowly.
How much carbohydrate is needed during pregnancy? During pregnancy there is no specific recommendation regarding the amount of carbohydrates to be consumed each day. However, it is vital to distribute them throughout the day, which will help prevent snacking, dizziness and fatigue. They are essential especially during the morning.
Where to find them? We find simple carbohydrates in foods such as sugar, jams, honey, chocolate, fruits and cakes. And we found complex carbohydrates in cereals, legumes and other foods such as pasta, rice and potatoes.
It is an essential mineral for muscle contractions, the functioning of the nerves and, above all, for the development and growth of both the baby's bones and his teeth. And it also provides benefits for the future mother, since it helps reduce the risk of hypertension and preeclampsia during pregnancy.
How much calcium is necessary during pregnancy? According to the World Health Organization, it is advisable to consume around 1200 mg / day.
Where to find it? We find calcium especially in milk and milk products, which become the main sources of calcium. In addition, you can also find calcium in plant foods such as chard, cabbage, broccoli, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, peanuts, dried figs, beans, chickpeas and radishes.
We are faced with another fundamental mineral during pregnancy, since it is essential for the production of red blood cells, specifically hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to other cells.
During pregnancy, in fact, the amount of blood increases, so that the pregnant mother needs a greater amount of iron so that, in turn, the body may be able to produce a greater amount of hemoglobin. It is essential to meet the needs of the developing baby.
How much iron is necessary during pregnancy? Most gynecologists advise daily iron supplementation during pregnancy, as a preventive way to ensure that daily iron needs are met in pregnancy, and as prevention of anemia.
Where to find it? You find iron in lean red meat, spinach, legumes, tofu, raisins, plums, potatoes, broccoli, beets, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, apricots, figs and wholemeal bread. In addition, it is best to try to consume these foods rich in iron with foods rich in vitamin C, since iron is better absorbed in the presence of this vitamin. You can choose, for example, for green and red peppers, strawberries, oranges and lemons.
Vitamin B9 or folic acid
It is another of the most important essential nutrients during pregnancy. For example, as we saw in the article in which we took care to talk to you about The importance of folic acid before and during pregnancy , this vitamin is essential because it prevents birth defects in the brain (anencephaly) and in the spine (spina bifida), as a consequence of defects in the neural tube.
In addition, it helps the future mother positively when it comes to preventing eclampsia, which is a process that involves high blood pressure and the presence of albumin in the urine.
How much of the folic acid is necessary during pregnancy? As with iron, daily folic acid supplementation is recommended not only during pregnancy, but also at least 3 months before (especially if the pregnancy is scheduled). However, a daily intake of 300 pg per day is advised.
Where to find it? You can find it in legumes, green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fruits, eggs and brewer's yeast.
Other essential nutrients equally important
There are also other nutrients of equal importance during pregnancy, which, because they are not included in the previous section, are less useful. We discover them below:
- Vitamin A: favors the development of strong bones, healthy skin and adequate vision. We find it in green leafy vegetables and red and orange vegetables.
- Vitamin C: As we mentioned, it is essential for a better absorption of both iron and calcium. Protect the baby from harmful substances. We find it in citrus fruits, natural fruit juices, red and green pepper, and in tomato.
- Vitamin D: favors the repair of the bones and also the growth. In addition, it helps in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. You find it in fortified milk and beverages, dairy products, bread and cereals.
- Match: mineral essential for the formation of healthy bones and teeth, along with calcium and vitamin D. We can find it in dairy products such as yogurt, eggs, fish such as sardines and lean red meat.
- Iodo: favors the correct manufacture of hormones, fundamental for the proper development of pregnancy, to be important for the development of the nervous system and growth. We can find it in egg, fish and iodized salt.
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