Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Your Healthy Pregnancy Diet: Top Nutrients


WebMD Medical Reference
Reviewed by Mikio A. Nihira, MD

Eating a healthy, balanced diet while you're pregnant protects you and your growing baby. Although you should take a prenatal vitamin as insurance, choosing the right foods will help give you the complex mix of nutrients that pregnant women need. Aim for meals high in these important nutrients:

 

Calcium

Baby Benefits: Builds bones and teeth. (Your growing baby takes the calcium she needs from your body, so to keep your bones and teeth healthy, you need to get enough to replace that amount.)

Your Benefits: Protects your bone density. It may also help prevent high blood pressure while you're pregnant.

Pregnancy RDA: 1,000 milligrams (mg); don't exceed 2,500 mg

Best Food Sources:

  • Yogurt, plain, low-fat, 1 cup -- 415 mg
  • Yogurt, low-fat fruit flavored, 1 cup -- 345 mg
  • Milk, plain or flavored, 1 cup -- about 300 mg
  • Orange juice, calcium-added, 1 cup -- 300 mg
  • Cheddar cheese, 1 oz -- 204 mg
  • Tofu, firm, prepared with calcium sulfate and magnesium chloride, 1/4 block -- 163 mg
  • Cottage cheese, 2% milk fat, 1 cup  -- 156 mg

Choline

Baby Benefits: Helps prevent problems in the spinal cord and brain, called neural tube defects, and enhances brain development.

Your Benefits: Builds strong bones and may help prevent high blood pressure.

Pregnancy RDA: 450 mg; don't exceed 3,500 mg

Best Food Sources: 

  • Egg, 1 cooked -- 272 mg
  • Pork tenderloin, 3 oz cooked -- 103 mg
  • Atlantic cod, 3 oz cooked --  84 mg
  • Ground beef, 3 oz cooked -- 83 mg
  • Salmon, 3 oz cooked -- 65 mg
  • Chicken, 3 oz cooked -- 65 mg
  • Broccoli or cauliflower, 1 1/4 cup cooked -- 40 mg

Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

DHA is one of the omega-3 fatty acids.

Baby Benefits: Helps boost brain development and vision.

Your Benefits: May reduce your risk of heart disease in the future.

Pregnancy RDA: 300 mg

Best Food Sources:

  • Coho salmon, farmed, 3 oz cooked -- 740 mg
  • Blue crab, 3 oz cooked -- 196 mg
  • Canned light tuna, drained, 3 oz -- 190 mg
  • Catfish, 3 oz cooked -- 116 mg
  • Fortified eggs -- 85 mg to 200 mg

Folic Acid

Baby Benefits: Helps protect against spinal cord birth defects during the first 30 days of pregnancy, helps prevent early miscarriage and premature delivery.

Your Benefits: Prevents anemia.

Pregnancy RDA: 600 micrograms (mcg)

Best Food Sources

  • Lentils, 1 cup cooked -- 358 mcg
  • Spinach, 1 cup cooked -- 263 mcg
  • White enriched rice, 1 cup cooked -- 195 mcg
  • Enriched spaghetti, 1 cup cooked -- 172 mcg
  • Broccoli, 1 cup cooked -- 168 mcg
  • Orange juice, 1 cup -- 110 mcg
  • Enriched bread, 2 slices -- 34 mcg

Iron

Baby Benefits: Helps prevent premature delivery.

Your Benefits: Wards off anemia in pregnant women.

Pregnancy RDA: 27 mg; don't exceed 45 mg

Best Food Sources

  • Whole Grain Total Cereal, 3/4 cup -- 22 mg
  • Cheerios, 1 cup -- 10 mg
  • Enriched rice, 1 cup cooked -- 8 mg
  • Canned white beans, 1 cup -- 8 mg
  • Beef, 3 oz cooked -- 3 mg
  • Lamb, 3 oz cooked -- 2 mg
  • White meat chicken, 3 oz. cooked -- 1 mg

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

Woman smiling as she reads pregnancy test
Slideshow
pregnant woman with salad
Quiz
 
pregnancy am i pregnant
Article
babyapp
NEW
 

slideshow fetal development
Slideshow
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
Article
 
What Causes Bipolar
Video
Woman trying on dress in store
Slideshow
 

pregnant woman
Article
Close up on eyes of baby breastfeeding
Video
 
healthtool pregnancy calendar
Tool
eddleman prepare your body pregnancy
Video