Eating a healthy and balanced diet is always a good idea, but when you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant, eating right is even more vital. Many of the most common birth defects can be caused by nutritional deficits during fetal development, so a healthy diet is one of the best ways to get that new life off to a healthy start.
While all nutrients are important, there are a number of vitamins and minerals that are absolutely essential to the proper development of the growing fetus. Any pregnancy diet should be designed to ensure proper levels of these nutrients. Women who are expecting should consult with their doctors to develop a plan for healthy eating throughout all stages of pregnancy.
In many cases, doctors will prescribe a prenatal vitamin to help ensure good nutrition, but it's still important for all pregnant women to eat a healthy diet. No vitamin pill can take the place of good nutrition, so it's vital for soon to be moms to develop healthy eating habits throughout all stages of pregnancy.
One of the most essential nutrients for pregnant women is calcium. The growing fetus will need lots of calcium to develop strong, healthy bones, so moms to be should eat plenty of dairy products and other calcium rich foods. Women will need to consume between 1,000 and 13,000 mg of calcium per day, so reading labels is important when preparing those healthy meals. If women fail to get enough calcium during pregnancy their bodies could steal that essential nutrient from their bones, leaving them at increased risk for osteoporosis and other chronic conditions.
Pregnant women should also be sure to get plenty of vitamin C in their daily diets, at least 70 mg per day. Fortunately, there are many delicious sources of this essential vitamin, including oranges, papayas, strawberries and grapefruits. Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, green peppers and tomatoes are also rich sources of vitamin C. The daily diet should contain a good mixture of these delicious fruits and vegetables.
Folic acid has often been called the pregnancy vitamin, and for good reason. This essential vitamin plays a major role in fetal development, and low levels of folic acid can result in many common birth defects. Because folic acid is such an important nutrient for pregnant women, many common foods – like breads and cereals – are fortified with the vitamin. However, pregnant women should not rely exclusively on these fortified foods. It is also a good idea to eat foods rich in folic acid each day. Some of these folic acid rich foods include lima beans, black beans, chickpeas and black eyed peas. Leafy green vegetables and veal are also good sources of folic acid, so it shouldn't be difficult to design a healthy diet with adequate levels of this essential nutrient.
Eating a healthy diet rich in these essential vitamins and minerals is one of the best gifts expecting mothers can give to their developing babies. Good nutrition starts long before birth, when the growing fetus is completely depending on its mother for nutrition. Pregnant women need to do their part to ensure that their babies get the nutrition they need for a good start in life.