Nutrition plays a big role in your pregnancy. Getting enough folate, omega-3 DHA and calcium in your diet can help support your health as well as the development of your growing baby. In this article, we break down why these three nutrients matter—and the foods that include them—so you know what’s best to eat for you and your growing baby.
Folate is a B vitamin that nourishes your baby’s developing nervous system and helps protect against certain birth defects, including spinal cord and brain abnormalities. That’s why it’s especially important to include plenty of folate-rich foods in your diet.
Sources of folate:
- Leafy green vegetables, like spinach
- Citrus fruits, like oranges
- Fortified cereals
- Dried beans
Omega-3 DHA is a fatty acid that aids in your baby’s brain and eye development. Because this important nutrient is beneficial for baby before and after they’re born, you’ll find it in many prenatal and breastfeeding supplements. Just make sure that you are getting expert-recommended levels (at least 200 milligrams daily while pregnant or breastfeeding).
Sources of DHA:
- Cold-water fish, like salmon (choose wild over farmed), trout and sardines
- Fortified foods, like eggs and milk
Just like the milk commercials say, calcium does a body good. It also does a baby good, too. That’s because it supports the development of their precious little bones. But since your baby can only receive calcium from you, it’s especially important to get enough of this key nutrient in your diet. Luckily, foods we love like ice cream and cheese are chalk full of calcium. Just make sure to lean mostly on healthier options (some calcium-rich foods may surprise you!) to support a healthy pregnancy weight.
Sources of calcium:
- Dairy products, like milk, cheddar cheese and low-fat yogurt
- Calcium-fortified orange juice
- Green vegetables like broccoli, spinach and kale
- White beans
Even if you eat a healthy diet, you can miss out on key nutrients. Taking a daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting at least three months before conception can help. Your doctor might also recommend special supplements if you follow a strict diet.