According to all nutritional references and standards, mothers’ need for nutrients, especially vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients like proteins and essential fatty acids and etc. will increase during pregnancy. But the ancient belief which says mothers should eat as much as two persons is not true. A mother should follow a diverse, perfect and calculated diet in order to protect both her and her child’s health.
It is recommended to have all basic food groups. These groups include :
- Bread and Cereals : This group includes bread, rice, macaroni, etc. that are the main energy sources. It is recommended to have 7 to 11 portions per day (each portion is equal to 30 g).
- Fruits and Vegetables : This group includes all kinds of fruits, citrus, vegetables and germs which are the main sources of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Fruits should be used for 3 to 4 portions (each portion is equal to an apple, orange or a medium banana); concerning vegetables, it is 4 to 5 portions (each portion is equal to a glass of unprocessed leafy vegetables or a half glass of cooked vegetables).
- Milk and Dairy Products : This group includes milk, cheese, yogurt, kashk (dried whey), etc. These are the main sources of some proteins, minerals like calcium and phosphor, vitamin A and B vitamins. The recommended quantity is 3 to 4 portions per day (each portion is equal to a glass of milk or yogurt or 45 to 50 gr of cheese).
- Meat, Egg, Legumes and Nuts : This group includes red and white meats, fish, egg and legumes such as lentils, peas and beans as well as nuts like pistachio, walnut, almond, etc. This group is the main source of protein and minerals like iron and zinc.
Necessary Energy and Nutrients During Pregnancy
- Energy : During the first trimester of pregnancy, mother’s extra-energy level is very low (10 kcal). The need for extra-energy reaches to 200 kcal and 350 to 400 kcal in the second trimester and third trimester, respectively. Therefore, mother’s extra-energy level can be provided by a balanced diet and adjustment of energy intake may be considerably effective in prevention of post-childbirth prevalent obesity. Taking a proper food supplement (LADYMIL) will provide pregnant mother with nutrients, in addition to providing necessary energy in an adjusted manner.
- Protein : Increase in protein level during pregnancy and breastfeeding is an undeniable necessity which plays a vital role in fetus development and maintenance of mother’s health. This increase is perceptible during the whole period of pregnancy but it reached to its maximum level in the third trimester of pregnancy. On average, increase in mother’s need for protein during pregnancy is between 20 g to 25 g per day which must be provided by protein sources with high biological value. Milk is a nutrient food containing protein with essential amino acids and high biological value.
- Carbohydrate : Carbohydrates are the main sources of energy for body. Most researchers believe that carbohydrates should provide up to 70% of energy level. Carbohydrate deficiency during pregnancy causes fat to break down and release ketone bodies into the blood that may directly affect infant’s cerebral development and even result in lack of their cerebral development in severe cases.
- Fiber : According to conducted studies, use of dietary fibers causes better digestion and prevents constipation. It is caused by non-digestion of fiber by digestive system that bulks up feces, hence a better excretion. Also, studies suggest fiber prevents increase in cholesterol and blood sugar by decreasing cholesterol and sugar absorption in intestine. Having nutrient foods containing fiber including legumes, fruits and vegetables will provide mother will essential fiber. The required fiber dosage during pregnancy is 28 g per day.
- Fats : Fats include essential fatty acids like linoleic acid (ω6) and α-linolenic acid (ω3) that body is not able to synthesize them and should be provided by diet, in addition to be recognized as an energy source. ω6 plays a crucial role in hormonal balance and health of skin, hair and nail. It is also an auxiliary factor for lowering cholesterol dosage. Additionally, ω3 is substantially important for cerebral, sight and neural development of the fetus. Nonsaturated long chain fatty acids (DHA & AA) are vital for improvement of vision system and development of neural network of fetus as well as optimized performance of mother’s neural system. Taking supplements containing these two fatty acids (LADYMIL) assists provision of mother’s needs during her pregnancy. The required dosages of linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid are 13 mg and 1.4 mg per day, respectively.
The required dosage of vitamins increases based on the special conditions of pregnancy period. Some of vitamins may be earned through a diet but in other cases, it is essential to take supplements. Dietary-based supplements containing all vitamins (LADYMIL) can be very helpful in providing pregnancy needs.
- Vitamin A : The required dosage of vitamin A during pregnancy is 750 μg per day and it ought to be provided through diet and supplement. Its roles in the body include: its role in sight power, natural development and growth of tissues of bone, tooth and development and protection of skin.Sources of this vitamin include liver, yolk, vegetables and dark green fruits. It is noteworthy that although liver is a proper source of nutrients, especially vitamin A, it may contain remaining medicines and hormonal materials and should be used cautiously.
- Vitamin D : The required dosage of vitamin D during pregnancy is 600 μg per day. This vitamin contributes to development and protection of natural tissues of bones and tooth and adjustment of calcium and phosphor metabolism. Yolk, liver, fish and vitamin D-fortified milk are important sources of this vitamin.It is noteworthy that sunlight is an important source of vitamin D and it is recommended to be exposed to sunlight for at least 10 minutes per day. Meanwhile, using sunscreen creams prevents absorption of sunlight and production of vitamin D.
- Vitamin E : The required dosage of vitamin E during pregnancy is 15 μg per day. This vitamin contributes to protection of skin health, delaying senescence and prevention of fatty acids and vitamin A oxidation. The important sources of this vitamin are different kinds of vegetable oils, yolk, milk, various nuts and vegetables with dark green leaves.
- Vitamin K : The required dosage of vitamin K during pregnancy is 75 to 90 μg per day. Vitamin K is crucial for bone health. Therefore, sufficient dosages of this vitamin should be available in a pregnant woman’s diet. The important sources of vitamin K include broccoli, green leaves of turnip and dark green lettuce.
- Thiamine, Riboflavin and Niacin (Vitamins B1, B2 & B3): The recommended dosage for B1 and B2 is 1.4 mg and for B3 is 18 mg per day. Due to important role of these vitamins in carbohydrates metabolism and mother’s increasing need for energy during her pregnancy, these vitamins should be necessarily provided. Rich sources of these vitamins are meat, fish, chicken, egg and legumes.
- Pyridoxine (B6) : The required dosage of this vitamin during pregnancy is 1.9 mg per day. This vitamin contributes to hematopoiesis, natural body development and foods metabolism. Rich sources of this vitamin include kinds of meat, milk, egg, legumes and cereals.
- Vitamin B12 : The recommended dosage of this vitamin during pregnancy is 2.6 μg per day. It contributes to hematopoiesis, formation of nucleic acid, natural body development and folic acid metabolism. Important food sources of this vitamin are red meat, fish, liver, kidney, egg, milk and dairies.
- Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) : The required dosage of this vitamin during pregnancy is 600 μg per day. It contributes to hematopoiesis and formation of nucleic acid. Rich food sources of this vitamin are liver, egg, fish, peas, beans, lentils and vegetables with green leaves.It is important to take this vitamin from three months before pregnancy to prevent infant’s congenital neural tube defect (NDT). Therefore, taking supplements containing vitamin B9 is recommended upon medical advice.
- Vitamin C : The recommended dosage of this vitamin during pregnancy is 85 mg per day. This vitamin helps to heal wounds and improve allergies, and also in hematopoiesis through iron absorption improvement, protection of gum’s health and protection and formation of collagens in tissues. The important rich sources of this vitamin are different kinds of citrus, tomato, green pepper, cauliflower, potato, strawberry and spinach.
- Calcium : The needed dosage of this mineral during pregnancy is 1000 to 1300 mg per day. The most important role of this mineral is played in bone structure and body skeleton. Therefore, it prevents osteoporosis and contributes to adjustment of blood pressure and normal cardiac and muscular activities. Almost 30 g of calcium is stored during pregnancy, out of which 25 g gathered in fetus skeleton and the rest in the mother’s. The highest embryonic reserve occurs during the last three months of pregnancy. The most important calcium-rich sources are milk and dairies.
- Iron : The recommended dosage of iron during pregnancy is 27 mg per day. The most important role of iron is in hematopoiesis and prevention of anemia. Whereas hematopoiesis level increases in mother’s body during pregnancy and anemia results in irreparable consequences, sufficient use of iron should be especially considered. The Iron-rich sources are meat, yolk, fish, legumes and dark green-leaf vegetables.The considerable point about iron is that it is very unlikely that women enter into pregnancy phase with sufficient iron reserves. Therefore, together with iron-rich foods, they should take iron supplements. Among these supplements, those with proper iron dosage are the best because supplements containing iron exceeding 60 mg per dosage interfere and prevent zinc absorption.
- Iodine : The required dosage of this mineral during pregnancy is 290 μg per day. Most importantly, iodine contributes to thyroxin hormone synthesis and body metabolism. Also, iodine plays role in embryo’s brain development and its deficiency results in infant’s mental retardation. The most important iodine-rich foods are seafood like fish and shrimp. Also, iodized salt may be use for providing this mineral.The important point is that considering absorption of heavy elements like mercury and lead by sea animals including fish, their high consumption should be refrained.
- Zinc : Its recommended dosage during pregnancy is 12 mg per day. Important contribution of this mineral is in enzymes’ structure, normal development of body, recovery of wounds and nucleic acids metabolism. Zinc deficiency causes congenital disorders, abnormal development of embryo’s brain and abnormal behaviors in infant. Meat, chicken, fish, legumes, cereals and nuts are among the Zinc-rich food sources.