Nutrition During Pregnancy

It's important to get the right vitamins and minerals during pregnancy. Here’s what you need and how to get it.
save article
profile picture of Paula Kashtan
Updated April 25, 2017
Hero Image
Image: Melanie Acevedo


How much:  11 mg per day

Why: Zinc is linked to a lowered risk of preterm delivery, low birth weight, and prolonged labor. It prevents intrauterine growth retardation as well.

Try: Baked beans are a great choice; you’ll get 2.9 mg for each half-cup serving.

Folic acid

How much: 600 micrograms per day

Why: Even before you get pregnant, you should start increasing this one. Doing so cuts your risk of birth defects.

Try: No midnight cravings for spinach or asparagus? Try an orange for 29 micrograms a pop.


How much: 1,000 mg per day

Why: Getting enough calcium can reduce the severity and lower the overall risk of preeclampsia, low birth weight, and preterm delivery.

Try: One cup of skim milk offers 299 mg.


How much: At least 70 grams per day

Why: Your body needs a lot more protein now to help the fetus grow and ensure that baby’s hormones and muscles develop properly.

Try: A 3 oz. boneless, skinless grilled chicken breast yields 28 g, getting you well on your way to reaching your daily requirement!


How much: At least 200 mg per day

Why: Higher levels of DHA in newborns correspond to higher birth weight. It’s also associated with a higher IQ, more advanced motor skills, and fewer emotional and  neurological problems later.

Try: Among your seafood options, Atlantic salmon has the highest levels of DHA—and is low in mercury, making it safe to eat during pregnancy.


How much: 27 mg per day

Why: Not enough can impair baby’s growth and increase the risk of hypertension, eclampsia, preterm delivery, and low birth weight.

Try: At 20 mg, a half cup of quick oats fortified with iron provides more than a serving of beef!

Related Video

Vitamin D

How much: 600 international units (IU) per day

Why: It helps increase blood circulation in the placenta and aids in calcium absorption.

Try: 8 oz. of fortified orange juice provides 100 IU, so be sure to drink up!

Your Daily Checklist

[] Prenatal Vitamin

[ ]Whole Grains and Legumes (6 or more servings)
Healthy choices: brown rice, wild rice, whole-grain bread, whole-grain cereal, whole-wheat pasta, pita, tortilla, wheat germ, beans, lentils, peanuts, peas

[] Calcium (4 servings)
Healthy choices: milk, hard cheese, yogurt, collard greens, edamame, sesame seeds, calcium-fortified juice, canned salmon with bones, tofu

[] Yellow, Green and Leafy Veggies and Fruits (3-4 servings)
Healthy choices: winter squash, spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, red bell pepper, carrot, sweet potato, apricot, mango, cantaloupe, papaya

[] Vitamin C (3 servings)
Healthy choices: (whole or juiced) orange, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, mango, peach, papaya, cantaloupe, honeydew, spinach, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, avocado

[] Protein (3 servings)
Healthy choices: poultry, beef, lamb, low-mercury fish and seafood, DHA-enriched eggs, cheese, yogurt, nuts, peanut butter, beans, tofu, edamame, soy pasta

[] Iron (3 servings)
Healthy choices: beef, duck, sardines, spinach, dried fruit, beans, soy products, pumpkin seeds, barley, oat bran

[] Other Veggies and Fruits (1-2 servings)
Healthy choices: green bean, zucchini, mushroom, corn, potato, apple, pear, banana, cherry, blueberry, avocado

[] Fats (roughly 4 servings)
Healthy choices: peanut butter, avocado, sour cream, cream cheese, cream, salad dressing, oil, butter, mayonnaise

[] Fluids (at least 10 cups a day)
Healthy choices: water, sparkling water, skim milk, juice

Updated April 2017

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article

Next on Your Reading List

Healthy Alternatives to Water
Healthy Alternatives to Water
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
place setting for one with gold accents
6 Holiday Food Rules to Follow When Pregnant
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman looking at tablet in her kitchen
So Long Seafood? Debunking Myths About Eating Fish During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Iron Supplements For Pregnant Women-hero
The Best Iron Supplements for Pregnancy, as Chosen by Experts
By Martina Garvey
Best Protein Powder For Pregnancy-hero
How to Choose the Best Protein Powder for Pregnancy
By Emma O'Regan-Reidy
20 slides
20 Healthy (and Tasty!) Pregnancy Snacks
20 Healthy (and Tasty!) Pregnancy Snacks
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Green vegetables like asparagus and broccoli can prevent pregnant woman's babies from developing asthma.
This Pregnancy Food Cuts Your Child's Asthma Risk in Half, Study Finds
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman eating a salad
10 Superfoods to Eat During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
woman's hands eating healthy quinoa bowl
Easy, Healthy Pregnancy Lunch Ideas for Work and Beyond
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
pregnant woman preparing healthy food with toddler in kitchen
How to Eat a Healthy Pregnancy Diet
By Elizabeth Narins
cranberry holiday themed mocktail
The Top 10 Trending Nonalcoholic Drinks Americans Searched for in 2022
By Wyndi Kappes
pregnant woman holding an apple while standing in kitchen at home
7 Natural Pregnancy Energy Boosters
By Meredith Franco Meyers
close up of pregnant woman eating a salad
Baby Can Smell and Taste Mom's Food While in the Womb, Study Says
By Wyndi Kappes
smiling pregnant woman eating apple on couch at home
Don’t Fall for These 5 Pregnancy Nutrition Myths
By Liz Sanders, MPH, RDN
pregnant woman grocery shopping
Study: Choline Can Boost Baby's Brain Health—If You're Getting Enough
By Anisa Arsenault
Whole wheat pasta with vegetables on a dinner plate.
These Two Minerals May Reduce Baby’s Risk of Hypertension, Study Says
By Nehal Aggarwal
young pregnant woman sitting in kitchen at home
These Three Lifestyle Factors Lower Risk of Preterm Birth by 70 Percent
By Nehal Aggarwal
pregnant woman preparing food in kitchen
Eating This Food During Pregnancy Can Boost Your Kid’s Attention Span
By Laurie Ulster
Why Folic Acid Is Important for Pregnancy
Why Folic Acid Is Important for Pregnancy
By Paula Kashtan
folic acid supplement recommended for pregnant women
Yet Another Reason to Take Folic Acid: It’s Good for Your Baby’s Mental Health
By Ashley Edwards Walker
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List