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.
ByPaula Kashtan
April 25, 2017
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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!

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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

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