It’s finally happened...you’re pregnant; congratulations! Knowing what to eat to keep you and your baby healthy can be confusing; let’s hope we can clear up some of your questions.
Pickles are an essential part of any pregnancy diet.
During pregnancy, you need higher levels of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Eating healthy, whole foods is your best way to achieve this.
There are certain nutrients that are especially important to support the growth and development of your baby that most women do not get enough of while pregnant. These are the ones that we want to focus on.
First up is iodine. Iodine is essential for healthy brain development. Pregnant women about 220 mcg per day. The average pregnant woman in the US consumes about 163 mcg per day, far short of the needed amount. Women who do not consume dairy products are even more at risk, with consumption of only about 100 mcg per day. So making sure to consume enough iodine in your diet is very important.
Here are some great foods rich in iodine:
Grass-fed dairy is rich in many nutrients, including iodine. It is one of the easiest ways to get more iodine in your diet.
Pastured Eggs are rich in iodine, choline, DHA, and vitamin E, which are also very important for healthy babies.
Wild-caught whitefish, such as cod and wild-salmon roe.
These fish are also rich in high-quality protein and valuable omega-3 fatty acids like DHA.
For those who feel that they cannot get enough iodine in their diet, wild salmon roe capsules are a great source of iodine to help fill in the gaps.
Next up is Choline. Choline is so important, but it is only now just starting to get talked about. It plays an essential role in brain and nervous system development. Pregnant women need about 450 mg per day. 90-95% of pregnant women do not consume adequate amounts of choline, and most prenatal vitamins have little to no choline. Prenatal vitamins without choline should not even be allowed to be called prenatal vitamins. For help choosing a good prenatal vitamin, check out our blog article, choosing a good prenatal vitamin. Ensuring you are getting enough choline in your diet is very important.
Here are some great foods rich in choline:
Grass-fed beef liver is the richest source of choline and contains many other essential nutrients like iron, B12, zinc, and folate.
For those who cannot stand the thought of eating liver, ethically sourced, high-quality liver capsules are a great choice and one of the best ways to make sure you are getting enough choline.
Wild-caught whitefish, such as cod.
Pastured Eggs are one of the best foods you can eat for a healthy pregnancy!
Third up is zinc. Zinc deficiency can increase the risk of preterm birth and prolong labor time. Zinc is also important for cell growth and brain development. Pregnant women are one group of women most at risk of zinc deficiency, with vegetarian and vegan women being even more at risk. So making sure to consume enough zinc in your diet is very important.
Here are some great foods rich in zinc:
Grass-fed beef liver is one of the richest sources of zinc. It is also more bioavailable than zinc found in plant foods.
Grass-fed beef, lamb, and buffalo
They are also rich in magnesium as well.
Make sure to choose ethically sourced, low-heavy metal ones, as many cacao products are high in heavy metals like lead and arsenic.
If you feel you cannot get enough zinc in your diet, ethically sourced, whole food zinc supplements are easy on the stomach and can help you meet your daily zinc requirements.
Next up is folate. Folate is essential for neural tube development. Inadequate maternal folate status has also been associated with low infant birth weight, preterm delivery, and fetal growth retardation. Many women have a genetic issue called MTHFR polymorphism which can affect the conversion of folic acid into folate. It is best to avoid depending on fortified foods and supplements containing folic acid in case you have this issue. In addition, eating foods with methyl donors can help to ensure that folate in food is adequately converted to methyl folate. Getting enough folate in your diet is very important to ensure a healthy baby.
Here are some great foods rich in folate:
Grass-fed beef liver is the richest source of folate. It is also rich in methyl donors that help convert folate to methyl folate.
For those who feel they cannot get enough folate in their diet, ethically sourced liver capsules are a great source of folate to fill in the gaps.
Don't be afraid of eating plenty of fruit during pregnancy; it supplies important nourishment.
Iron is our next important nutrient. Pregnant women are one of the most at-risk groups for iron deficiency. Iron deficiency during pregnancy increases the risk of maternal and infant mortality, premature birth, and low birth weight. Eating enough iron during pregnancy is incredibly important. Keep in mind that heme iron found in animal products is much better absorbed and utilized by the body than the non-heme iron found in plant foods. Make sure to eat vitamin C-rich foods with iron-rich plant foods to help increase the absorption. Avoid eating iron-rich plant foods with dairy products, as this can decrease the absorption of iron. Heme iron found in animal products does not have the same issues. Eating probiotic-rich foods such as Lacto-fermented vegetables like pickles can help to increase iron absorption. Unfortunately, many women simply do not eat enough iron-rich foods.
Here are some great foods rich in iron:
Grass-fed Beef Liver
Grass-fed Beef, Buffalo, Lamb, Venison
Grass-Organ Meats, especially spleen.
An iron supplement may be the answer for those who feel they do not get enough iron in their diet. Unfortunately, most iron supplements can be hard on the stomach and cause unpleasant side effects like constipation. Thankfully, there are whole-food iron supplements that can help you get enough iron without the unpleasant side effects. Check out our blog article, all about iron, to learn more.
When you really want to treat yourself, order a steak from Snake River Farms.
B vitamins, especially B6 and B12, are often found to be deficient in many pregnant women. These vitamins are important for various reasons, including brain and nervous system development. Eating enough of these vitamins is essential to supporting a healthy pregnancy.
Here are some great foods rich in B vitamins:
Grass-fed Beef Liver
Heart, Kidney, etc
Grass-Fed Beef, Buffalo, Lamb, Venison
Wild Caught Salmon
Last but certainly not least on our nutrient journey are omega-fatty acids, especially DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important for the baby's healthy development and the mom’s mental well-being. The vast majority of people, not just pregnant women, do not get enough of these incredibly important essential nutrients. One important note is that flax, hemp, and chia do not actually contain the omega-fatty acids we need. They contain a precursor fatty acid ALA, of which only very small amounts actually convert to fatty acids like EPA and DHA. In addition, they also contain large amounts of omega-6, which people already consume way too much of.
Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is very important to ensure a healthy baby.
Here are some great foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
Here is a great wallet card to see which fish are low in mercury.
Grass-Fed Full-Fat Dairy
Grass-Fed Beef, Lamb, Buffalo, Venison
For those of you who do not think you can get enough omega-3 in your diet, check out our recommended whole-food omega-3 supplements. Whole food omega-3 supplements are very different than the typical heavily refined and processed fish oil supplements found in health food stores and pharmacies. They contain many other important nutrients and compounds not found in traditional omega-3 supplements. In addition, they contain these omega-3 fatty acids in their natural state as they are found in food, unlike the altered state that they are found in traditional fish oil supplements. Check out this article to learn more.
Real, Unrefined Cod Liver Oil is the OG Superfood!
While getting enough of all of your nutrients is important, the ones listed above are those in which deficiencies are most often found in pregnant women. To ensure that all your boxes are checked, nearly all major medical organizations recommend a good prenatal vitamin. Check out our recommended prenatal vitamin here.
We hope that this article gave you some valuable information and helps clear up any questions you might have about healthy eating during pregnancy. Don’t forget to see the rest of our pregnancy center for more great information on everything from healthy eating for conception to support for healthy breastfeeding.