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A Pregnant Woman's Daily Diet

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Folic Acid: It's a Must

Nutrition experts agree that the best place for the mother-to-be to get all the essential nutrients, including ample amounts of vitamins and minerals, is from her diet. The trick is getting enough. For example, the MRC Vitamin Study at the Medical College of St. Bartholomew's Hospital in London found that women taking folic acid supplements around conception had significantly lower risks for giving birth to babies with neural tube defects (NTD), a type of birth defect where the embryonic neural tube that forms the future brain and spinal column fails to close properly.

Luckily, in 1996 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a regulation requiring that all enriched grain products, including breads and pasta, be supplemented with folic acid. Every woman during the childbearing years should make sure she gets at least 400 micrograms of folic acid from food or supplements.

The Post-Pregnancy Diet

Whether a woman breastfeeds or not, the secret to post-pregnancy nutrition is to gradually regain a desirable figure, while maintaining or restocking nutrient stores. In addition, since some babies are planned and others are surprises, it's never too late to start nourishing the next baby by continuing to eat a diet based on fresh fruits and vegetables, nonfat milk products, whole grains, and protein-rich beans and meats.

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