It’s no surprise that during pregnancy – more than at any other time in your life – you need to eat well. You are doing everything for two, so in addition to providing for your own health, you also need an extra boost of vitamins and minerals to grow a healthy baby. Kwany Lui, co-founder of Bundle Organics, shares with us 5 key nutrients that are especially important for pregnant and nursing mothers.
- Folic Acid: Folic acid is the synthetic form of the nutrient folate — a nutrient critical for baby’s cell growth and development that also helps prevent neural tube defects. The reason it is recommended to take the synthetic form — folic acid — is because folic acid is almost twice as well absorbed as folate. Therefore, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that women get at least 400 mg of folic acid per day from supplements or fortified foods and drinks — ideally beginning as early as 3 months prior to conception. On top of this, it is recommended to also consume folate from foods in a varied diet. Sources of folate include dark leafy greens (such as kale and spinach), citrus fruits, legumes, and whole grains.
- Iron: Iron is necessary for making hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body, and to the baby. During pregnancy, you need double the amount of iron that a non-pregnant woman needs (RDA is 27mg per day). This extra iron not only helps your body make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby but also supplies your baby with the iron needed to build its own red blood cells. Iron-rich foods include lean red meat, poultry, fish, beans, dried apricots, spinach, and peas. Iron absorption is increased by eating foods high in vitamin C but decreased by consuming with dairy.
- Calcium: Calcium is necessary for your baby’s bones and teeth, and is needed most in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy when bone formation occurs. A daily total of 1,200 mg of elemental calcium is recommended during pregnancy. Sources of calcium include dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt), salmon, sardines, and dark leafy vegetables. A prenatal vitamin contains around 150 to 200 mg of elemental calcium; an 8 oz. of skim milk provides only 30mg of calcium. Therefore, many women need additional calcium via supplements or calcium-fortified foods and drinks. It is important to note that your body can only absorb 500mg of calcium at a time, so you will need to scatter your calcium intake throughout your day.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D works with calcium to help develop and grow your baby’s bones and teeth. Pregnant women are advised to get 600 IUs of vitamin D daily. Our bodies actually produce vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. If you are pregnant during winter months or try to minimize your sun exposure (as most of us do), you will need to get vitamin D from other sources. Vitamin D can be found in foods, but unfortunately, not many foods in nature contain vitamin D. Sources include fatty fish (salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils. This is why many foods in the U.S. are fortified with vitamin D.
- Essential Fatty Acids: Prenatal vitamins don’t usually contain essential fatty acids, such as the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which help develop your baby’s brain, nerve, and eye tissues. Fish is a good source of DHA and EPA, but you have to be careful about eating too much fish that are high in mercury during your pregnancy. Therefore, it is a good idea to take a DHA supplement, in addition to your prenatal vitamin.
Looking to get an extra nutrient-boost in addition to your prenatal vitamin? Bundle Organics juices — made specifically for expecting and new moms — are designed to complement your prenatal vitamin. Made with USDA organic fruits and veggies and fortified with OBGYN-recommended vitamins and nutrients, these flash-pasteurized juices are delicious! The juices provide a boost of nutrients that are more difficult to obtain through diet, such as calcium, folic acid, iron, omega 3’s and vitamin D, all at safe levels to consume with your prenatal vitamin. These vitamins and nutrients are beneficial to women who are trying to conceive and are breastfeeding as well.
Guest contributor: Kwany Lui is the co-founder of Bundle Organics, a new line of organic prenatal juices that are pasteurized and specially designed to address the unique nutritional needs of expecting and new moms. The juices are made with organic fruits and veggies, plus an extra bump of essential vitamins like iron, calcium, vitamin D, omega 3, and folic acid to support a baby’s healthy development.