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Pregnancy Diet: Nutrients You Need

You've probably heard about the importance of getting enough protein, iron, calcium, and folate while you're pregnant. But the list doesn't end there – you need other important nutrients, too. Check out this list, and make sure you're getting enough of these nutrients in your diet.

Choline

Choline works with folic acid to help protect your baby from neural tube defects. These are common, but serious, birth defects. Some studies also show that getting enough choline while you're pregnant may enhance your baby's brain development.

Pregnancy Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): 450 milligrams. Don't take more than 3,500 milligrams a day.

Best food sources: Whole eggs, meat, fish, and whole grains.

 

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid. It may help boost your baby's motor, mental, and visual development. In some studies, DHA lowered the risk of premature delivery. And DHA may help improve your health, too, by reducing your risk of heart disease.

Pregnancy RDA: 200 - 300 milligrams

Best food sources: Fish, especially salmon, light tuna, herring, sardines, and trout. If you don't like fish, look for foods fortified with DHA, or ask your doctor about taking supplements. Some prenatal vitamins also contain DHA.

Warning: Avoid fish that is high in mercury while you're pregnant. This includes swordfish, shark, tilefish, and king mackerel. Ask your doctor for a detailed list of seafood to avoid. Too much mercury can hurt your baby's central nervous system.

 

Potassium

Getting enough potassium every day can help keep your fluids balanced and your blood pressure normal. Potassium may also help prevent kidney stones and bone loss as you age. You won't find potassium in prenatal supplements, so you must meet your quota with food. Most people only get about half the recommended daily amount.

Pregnancy RDA: 4,700 milligrams. There is no recommended upper limit for potassium.

Best food sources: Fruits and vegetables, especially bananas, cantaloupe, potatoes, prunes, raisins, acorn squash, spinach, orange juice, and tomato juice.

 

Riboflavin

Riboflavin is also known as vitamin B2. You and your baby need it to develop your blood cells, skin, and digestive tract lining. It may also help reduce the risk of preeclampsia.

Pregnancy RDA: 1.4 milligrams. There is no recommended upper limit for riboflavin, but high doses may turn your urine an orange color.

Best food sources: A wide variety of foods contain riboflavin, including fortified cereals, nonfat milk, eggs, almonds, spinach, broccoli, chicken, salmon, and beef.

 

Vitamin B6

Getting enough vitamin B6 during pregnancy is important for your baby's brain development and immune function. Some research suggests taking vitamin B6 may help reduce nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Pregnancy RDA: 1.9 milligrams. Unless your doctor prescribes vitamin B6, don't take more than 100 milligrams a day.

WebMD Medical Reference

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