Clearly there are special nutrition needs before, during and afterpregnancy. According to the American Dietetic Association, pregnantand breast-feeding women may be at risk for nutrient deficienciesdue to increased nutrient requirements. Therefore, many women whoare pregnant and breast-feeding pay closer attention to what theyare eating, and most doctors recommend prenatal supplements.
The focus is on three nutrients: vitamin D, omega 3 fats andfolate. These nutrients are not naturally occurring in a wideselection of foods. In addition, there are certain foods thatshould be limited or avoided due to risks of food-borne illnesssuch as salmonella, listeriosis or toxins such as mercury in fish.Itâs helpful to know the best food sources andthe recommended amounts during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
Hereâs what you should know:
Why do you need it? Vitamin D deficiency is the most commonmedical condition in the world. Low vitamin D levels in pregnancyleads to low serum calcium in the infant and affects neonatal bonemetabolism in some cases.Where do you get it? From sunlight and a few food sources such asfortified milk, salmon, fortified cereals and egg yolks. How muchdo you need?The suggested amount during pregnancy and breast-feeding is 200 IUper day, but for infants and children the American Academy ofPediatrics recently increased their recommendation to 400 IU. TheNational Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that adults get 400-800or 800-1000 IU per day, depending on age. Much research is underway regarding recommended amounts of vitamin D for optimalhealth.Foods to avoid: Raw or unpasteurized milk, cheese, eggs, meat andpoultry.Omega 3 Fats: DHAWhy do you need it? DHA is a key omega-3 fatty acid for visual andmental development of the fetus and newborn infant. In addition,research shows it may reduce the risk of heart disease andstroke.Where do you get it? The best food sources are salmon and tuna.How much do you need? Experts recommend at least 200 mg of DHAdaily. The American Dietetic Association and the American HeartAssociation recommend two servings of fish per week providing about500 mg EPA and DHA (about 8 ounces total). The EnvironmentalProtection Agency, the US Food and Drug Administration andMyPyramid (for pregnancy and breast-feeding) advise up to 12 ouncesa week of fish or shellfish lower in mercury such as shrimp, cannedlight tuna, salmon, Pollock and catfish.Foods to avoid: Shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish; limitalbacore âwhiteâ tuna to 6ounces or less a week (contains more mercury that canned lighttuna).Folate (or Folic Acid)Why do you need it? Folate is a B vitamin that is essential inearly pregnancy. It significantly decreases the risk of neural tubedefects such as spina bifida (brain and spine defects).Where do you get it? Good food sources include fortified cerealsand breads, leafy green vegetables, dried peas and beans (i.e. navyand kidney beans), citrus fruits/juices, bananas, cantaloupe andtomatoes. Because these foods are often lacking in the averagediet, this important vitamin has been added to grains such asbread, cereal, rice and pasta.How much do you need? The recommended amount during pregnancy is600 micrograms a day.All pregnant and breast-feeding women should discuss their diet andsupplement options with their registered dietitian andphysician.Other foods to avoid during pregnancy to prevent food-borneillness:â Cold deli salads â Delimeats/hot dogs - must be heated to steaming (or 160 degrees F)For more information about nutrition during pregnancy andbreast-feeding visit:www.mypyramid.gov/mypyramidmoms For more information on food safetyand prevention of food-borne illnesses you can contact:Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Foodborne Illness Line(24 hr recorded information) 888-232-3228 www.cdc.govU.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety &Applied Nutrition 888-SAFEFOOD www.cfsan.fda.govCopyright © 2015, CT Now