March 22, 2011

Basic Pregnancy Nutrition

Talk to your doctor about correct nutrition during your pregnancy. It's best to get a doctor that understands vegan nutrition.

Eating a healthy diet, balancing carbohydrates, fat, and proteins, and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, should ensures good nutrition. Adequate folate (folic acid & vitamin B9) intake has been proven to limit fetal neural tube defects, preventing spina bifida, a very serious birth defect. Folates are abundant in Leafy green vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, peas, beets, brussel sprouts, spinach), mushrooms, fortified cereals and grain products/juices/plant milks, nuts (almonds, peanuts), dry beans (chickpeas, black-eyed beans, soybeans), wheat germ, citrus fruits, melons.

DHA omega-3 is an important structural fatty acid in the brain and retina, and is naturally found in breast milk. Woman need to consume adequate amounts of DHA during pregnancy and while nursing for the well-being and the health of her infant. Developing infants cannot produce DHA efficiently, and need to receive this vital nutrient from the woman through the placenta during pregnancy and in breast milk after birth. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid, there are vegan supplements as well algae, DHA algal oil, seaweed, spirulina. Soybeans, walnuts, flaxseed and canola oil all contain high amounts of ALA. In theory, one tablespoon of flaxseeds should provide the daily recommendation of ALA - from which the body would produce needed DHA and EPA.

Vitamin D and calcium are required for bone development. Calcium sources include tofu, green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens, cabbage, watercress, etc.), dried fruit/figs, seeds and nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame), black molasses, chickpeas, parsley, wholemeal bread, oats, almond butter, cooked tempeh, broccoli, beans (black, pinto, navy, kidney, soy, etc), kale, TVP, mustard greens, soy products, turnip greens, tahini, okra, bok choy. Plant milks, bread, cereal, & orange juice are often fortified with calcium. Vitamin D sources include sunlight, vegetable oils, margarine, fortified plant milks, spirulina, fortified cereals & breads.

Caloric intake must be increased to ensure proper development of the fetus. The amount of weight gained during a single pregnancy varies among women. Pregnant women generally need to consume only 100 to 300 more calories than you did before you became pregnant to meet the needs of your growing baby. A woman of average weight before pregnancy should gain 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy; underweight women should gain 28-40 pounds during pregnancy; overweight women may need to gain only 15-25 pounds during pregnancy. During pregnancy, insufficient or excessive weight gain can compromise the health of the mother and fetus. Exercise during pregnancy, such as walking and swimming, is recommended for healthy pregnancies.

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