Important nutrients during pregnancy

The need for vitamins and minerals increases with pregnancy. It is therefore important to adapt your diet to the new needs. We give you an overview and tips for a balanced diet.

From the fourth month, your calorie needs have increased by 11 percent. That means you now need 255 more calories a day. It is not the amount of food that is decisive, but the right composition.

The basis of your diet are the so-called macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats, fiber and protein. They form the basic supply of your body and help it to keep the circulation going. But they alone are not enough. Other micronutrients must be added. These include: vitamins, magnesium , folic acid , iron , calcium, iodine , zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.

Important nutrients during pregnancy

Get an overview of the important nutrients during pregnancy, how high your daily need is, their tasks and in which foods you can find them.

carbohydrates during pregnancy

Carbohydrates provide you and your child with energy for the brain and muscles. They should therefore make up about 50 to 60 percent of your food intake. Above all, eat high-quality carbohydrates. You can find these mainly in potatoes, whole-grain bread, whole-grain pasta and whole-grain rice. You should avoid inferior and refined carbohydrates. This includes white flour products, sugar, pure fruit juices and sweets. They have only calories and no other nutrients. Although they cause the blood sugar level to skyrocket, since it also drops again quickly, a renewed feeling of hunger quickly sets in.

dietary fiber in pregnancy

Fiber is important for digestion and protects against hemorrhoids . These are indigestible food components that ensure that the sugar from food is absorbed evenly and enters the blood. It also reduces blood lipids and supports digestion with sufficient water intake. This is particularly important during pregnancy, as digestive problems and constipation are particularly common during this time. The Society for Nutrition recommends consuming around 30 grams per day in the form of dietary fiber. If you like a lot

  • Whole grain products,
  • freshly dried fruit and vegetables (e.g. the popular trail mix),
  • raspberries,
  • baked fruit and
  • Peas

is on the menu, your fiber needs should be covered.

protein during pregnancy

Proteins are the most important building blocks for your baby’s cells. They consist of different amino acids that form chains. They cannot be formed in the body itself, but must be ingested through food. The body uses them, among other things, for the formation of various body parts (e.g. skin, bones, hair), the formation of hormones, blood clotting and the transport of oxygen in the blood. They are also necessary for the defense against infections.

About 10 to 15 percent of your diet should consist of protein. That corresponds to around 75 to 100 grams a day. During pregnancy, the requirement increases to between 85 and 130 grams. A distinction is made between vegetable and animal protein. 50 to 70 percent of the protein intake should consist of animal proteins due to the better biological availability. They are mainly found in the following foods:

  • Dairy products
  • lean meat
  • lean fish
  • eggs

The remaining 30 to 50 percent should be in the form of plant-based protein. You can find it in particular in:

  • legumes
  • grain products
  • vegetables
  • potatoes
  • nuts

fats during pregnancy

Fats are also important for you and your child, because they are one of the body’s most important energy stores. They also help release vitamins from food. Fats should make up about 30 percent of your diet. Pay particular attention to the polyunsaturated fatty acids, because the body cannot produce them itself. You will find them mainly in:

  • sunflower oil
  • olive oil
  • safflower oil
  • rapeseed oil

On the other hand, try to avoid inferior fats, such as those found in sausage, butter, lard, and high-fat cheeses.

Important nutrients during pregnancy: micronutrients

Even if you pay a lot of attention to your diet, you may be deficient in certain micronutrients. Because your need for many nutrients such as folic acid , magnesium and iron increases by over 100 percent. This can hardly be covered through diet.

Your doctor will also talk to you about your diet and the intake of supplements. It is particularly important that you seek advice, because some supplements can even be harmful in the event of an overdose (iron, iodine, manganese, vitamins A, D and E) or must be taken in a coordinated manner (e.g. iron and magnesium). Under no circumstances should you take them without consulting your doctor or pharmacist.

Magnesium in pregnancy

Your body has an increased “hunger” for magnesium, especially during pregnancy. Because magnesium is necessary for the formation of children’s bones and for the metabolism. So bring on the valuable mineral. It is included in:

  • green vegetables
  • whole wheat flour
  • brown rice
  • potatoes
  • oatmeal
  • fruit (especially bananas)
  • almonds
  • salsify
  • legumes
  • Yeast

Mineral water containing magnesium can also help to replenish supplies. Sometimes, however, it is not so easy to get the amount of magnesium recommended by the German Society for Nutrition – namely 310-350 mg for expectant mothers – through food. As a result, many pregnant women suffer from symptoms such as calf cramps and premature labor caused by magnesium deficiency . And who has the diet plan firmly under control in an exciting time like pregnancy? Many doctors therefore prescribe taking a magnesium supplement as a preventive measure.

iron in pregnancy

According to the German Nutrition Society , you need 30 mg of iron per day during pregnancy. You can replenish your iron stores by eating lean pork, poultry or beef three times a week. In addition to iron, the meat also contains protein, zinc and vitamin B12. So treat yourself to a nice, juicy steak. Iron-rich vegetables and fruits include:

  • fennel
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • spinach
  • Beetroot
  • salsify
  • legumes
  • full grain
  • millet
  • Grapes
  • currants
  • nuts

However, this requirement, which has increased by 100 percent, cannot usually be covered by diet alone. Therefore, many pregnant women suffer from iron deficiency (low Hb value) and are prescribed additional preparations by the doctor. However, these preparations often have an unpleasant side effect: they lead to constipation. Talk to your doctor or midwife about it. It may help if you take the supplement with food. It is best to drink orange juice with it, because vitamin C facilitates iron absorption.

ATTENTION : Magnesium and iron hinder each other. Therefore, you should take these supplements at least two to three hours apart.

Calcium in pregnancy

Calcium is particularly important because your baby deprives you of calcium to build teeth and bones. According to the German Society for Nutrition , your requirement during pregnancy remains at 1,000 mg per day. However, if you are under the age of 19, the requirement increases to 1,200 mg per day. If you don’t cover the need completely, your baby will go to the reserves in your bones. Osteoporosis could develop later. These foods provide you with enough calcium:

  • Low-fat milk
  • Cheese
  • yogurt
  • nuts
  • legumes
  • broccoli
  • chard
  • soy products
  • sesame
  • sardines

Drinks also contain valuable calcium. You can read here which drinks are particularly good for you during pregnancy .

Folate and folic acid in pregnancy

According to the German Society for Nutrition , the daily folate requirement of a pregnant woman is 550 µg. This vitamin is important for the healthy development of your baby. You can find folate in:

  • liver
  • whole grain products
  • spinach
  • carrots
  • asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • nuts
  • tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • Aronia Juice

Folate is a very important vitamin for the development of your baby and is especially needed in the first few weeks and months of pregnancy. Because it supports the closure of your baby’s neural tube enormously. Doctors therefore recommend the additional intake of folic acid supplements. Folic acid is lab-made folate, making it the perfect complement to a folate-rich diet. In the best case, you start taking the preparations – 400 µg per day – four weeks before the start of pregnancy.

iodine in pregnancy

According to the German Society for Nutrition , the daily requirement for iodine during pregnancy is 230 µg. That is 30 µg more than the requirement for adults. The following foods will help you to meet your iodine requirements:

  • Saltwater fish (saithe, haddock, plaice and cod)
  • iodized table salt
  • algae
  • Mushrooms

If you cannot reliably cover your iodine requirement, talk to your gynecologist about taking iodine tablets for pregnant women.

You can read here why iodine is so important during pregnancy.

Zinc in pregnancy

Along with iron and iodine, zinc is one of the minerals responsible for building the baby’s skeleton and teeth. It is also a component of hormones and enzymes. From the fourth month of your pregnancy, your zinc requirement is 10 mg per day, according to the German Society for Nutrition . Up to the fourth month, the requirement is 7 mg per day.

Shellfish, such as oysters and shrimp, as well as red meat and offal are good sources of zinc. But beware! Pregnant women should avoid animal foods that are raw or not cooked. Because here there is a risk of Listeria infestation. Therefore, when preparing it, always make sure that meat or fish is well cooked.

But foods that are safe for pregnant women also contain zinc, such as:

  • Fish (tuna, carp)
  • poultry (turkey)
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • Grain

Although the body absorbs animal zinc better than plant zinc, there is a solution for this too. For example, when you soak legumes or eat grain in the form of sourdough. Yoghurt can also help with absorption – for example in combination with nuts and oatmeal.

Important nutrients during pregnancy: vitamins for pregnant women

Vitamins regulate the metabolism and are therefore indispensable as nutrients during pregnancy. They are found in many foods, but are often destroyed by long storage or overcooking.

  • Vitamin A : Your daily requirement is 1.11 mg. There is plenty of vitamin A in egg yolks, herring, melons, apricots and in yellow and red peppers, for example.
  • Vitamin C : You need 110 mg per day. It is particularly important to resupply the vitamin every day, because you cannot store it in your body. You can find it in peppers, broccoli, blackcurrants, citrus fruits, potatoes and kiwis.
  • Vitamin B1 : You cover your daily dose of 1.2 mg if you eat pork, cereal, nuts, yeast and whole grain bread.
  • Vitamin B6 : You need 1.9 mg of this vitamin, which you can easily find in meat, yeast, milk, cheese, bananas, and whole grains.
  • Vitamin D : Your daily requirement is 5 µg. This vitamin is important for the calcium and phosphate metabolism, which is beneficial for your child’s tooth and bone development. You can find it in cod liver oil, eggs, milk and butter.
  • Vitamin E : 13 mg per day is part of the daily requirement of a pregnant woman. This supports your immune system and protects the blood vessels from deposits. It is mainly found in plant products such as almonds, nuts, rapeseed oil, olive oil, safflower oil, linseed oil and sunflower oil.
  • Riboflavin : If you take 1.5 mg per day, your needs are met. The vitamin is contained in dairy products, whole grains and liver and promotes your body’s energy production.
  • Niacin : 15 mg per day can be found in whole grain products, nuts, peas, beef, pork and poultry, liver, sea fish, brown rice, potatoes and brewer’s yeast. The vitamin promotes energy metabolism, ie it is good for heart function and the nervous system. It also regulates moisture formation and plays an important role in skin regeneration.
  • Vitamin B12 : Together with folate, vitamin B12 is involved in the formation of red blood cells and in the structure of the nervous system. Your requirement of 3.5 µg per day is mainly covered by animal food. Meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese are good sources of vitamin B12. However, you can also find small amounts of the vitamin in sauerkraut, yeast, root vegetables and legumes.

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