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Today in Health & Wellness

Pregnancy and Nutrition

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It is important for a pregnant woman to have a nutritious diet to help her maintain her health, prepare her for lactation and help her baby to grow and develop. The old belief of "eating for two" is not a requirement during pregnancy. All that is needed is a well-balanced diet. The required caloric intake for pregnancy is an additional 300-kilo calorie per day in the second and third trimesters.

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Essential nutrient requirements

Protein: Supports baby's growth and blood production; supports the changes such as increased breast tissue of pregnant women.

  • Daily requirements: 38 to 45 grams
  • Sources: Meat, fish low in mercury, poultry, egg whites, beans, butter, tofu, nuts, almonds, cashews.
  • Servings: 4-5 Servings of protein daily equal to 3 cm cube cooked pork/beef/chicken, 1 piece medium size fish eggs, 1 piece chicken egg, 1 cup tofu, and 1 cup shellfish/shelled.

Calcium: Helps the bones and teeth of the baby to grow strong and healthy.

  • Daily requirements: 1,200 mg
  • Sources: Milk, cheese, yogurt, spinach, sardines, and salmon with bones.
  • Servings: 2-3 Servings of dairy products daily, 1 glass whole milk, cup evaporated milk diluted with 1/2 glass water, 4 tablespoons powdered whole milk diluted to 1 glass of water.

Vitamin C: Serves as immune system booster; keeps gums, teeth, and bones healthy. Assists in iron absorption.

  • Daily requirements: 85 mg
  • Sources: Broccoli, cabbage, melon, cauliflower, lemons, oranges, papaya, mustard, strawberries, potatoes, watermelon, tomatoes, spinach, and fortified fruit juices.
  • Servings: One to two 1/2-cup Servings of fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C daily.

Vitamin A (Beta Carotene): For good eyesight, healthy skin and growing bones.

  • Daily requirements: 770 mcg
  • Sources: Squash, papaya, peaches, sweet potatoes, watermelon, broccoli, cabbage, melon, carrots, tomato, and lettuce.
  • Servings: Two 1/2-cup Servings from the above list every other day, or one 1/2-cup serving daily.
  • Note: Too much vitamin A intake (>10,000 IU/day) may be associated with fetal malformations; consult a physician to know how much to take during prenatal care and which beta-carotene rich foods could be incorporated into the diet.

Carbohydrates: Maintains daily energy production.

  • Daily requirements: 175 grams
  • Sources: Rice, bread, cereals, sweet potato, pasta, cornmeal.
  • Servings: 5?-6 Servings of carbs daily. 1 cup cooked rice, 4 slices of loaf bread, 5 pieces small pandesal, 1 cup of corn, 2 cups of noodles, 1 cup of sweet potato.

Iron: Used to meet the needs of the placenta and the growing baby. It is required to increase iron intake during second and third trimesters to avoid anemia and to facilitate red blood cell production.

  • Daily requirements: 30 mg
  • Sources: Beef, prune juice and dried fruit, spinach, cereals; consult a physician for prenatal vitamins with iron.
  • Servings: 2-3 Servings daily. 3 ounces of beef, 1 cup spinach, cup cereals.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Prevents nerve disorder such as peripheral neuropathy and maintains red blood cells formation.

  • Daily requirements: 1.9 mg
  • Sources: Whole-grain cereals, brown rice, pork, poultry, fish, avocados, beans, potatoes, corn, bananas.
  • Servings: One potato, avocado or banana; 1 cup of cereal, beans or rice; or 3 to 4 ounces of pork, fish or poultry.

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin): Maintains proper function of nervous system.

  • Daily requirements: 2.6 mcg
  • Sources: Meat, fish, poultry, milk products, and fortified breakfast cereals.
  • Servings: 3 to 4 ounces of meat, poultry or fish; 1 cup yogurt, 1 ounce of cheese; or 1 cup dry cereal daily.
  • Note: Consult a physician upon regular intake of B12 supplement when a pregnant woman is vegetarian and does not eat dairy products.

Vitamin D: Helps in calcium absorption of the body and maintains healthy bones and teeth.

  • Daily requirements: 5 mcg
  • Sources: Egg yolks, fatty fish, and cod liver oil. It is often added to fortify milk, dairy products, bread and cereals.
  • Servings: Add one teaspoon of cod liver oil to dairy, bread, and cereals, or 15 minutes of sunlight exposure either early morning or late afternoon.

Folic Acid: Prevents development of birth defects (spina bifida). Helps blood and protein production, and encourages effective enzyme function.

  • Daily requirements: 600 mcg
  • Sources: Green leafy vegetables, dark yellow fruits and vegetables, beans, peas, and nuts.
  • Servings: Two cups fresh leafy greens or 1 cup boiled greens; 1 cup beans, peas, or nuts; and one orange, tomato, or carrot. Doctors recommend 600 mcg.

Water: Keeps pregnant woman hydrated and ensures baby's good level of fluid.

  • Sources: Water
  • Servings: Drink 8-12 glasses of daily.
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