Nutrition in pregnancy

A healthy and balanced diet is important for the development of the unborn child. This includes an appropriate balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Vegetarians should pay special attention to a balanced diet.  In addition, there are some special needs during pregnancy:
Folic acid

Folic acid (also known as vitamin B9), especially in early pregnancy is needed to prevent a neural tube defect. The risk of severe deformity can be minimized by taking folic acid as a dietary supplement.

Folic acid is found in whole grains, green leafy vegetables, spinach, broccoli, carrots, asparagus, brussels sprouts, tomatoes, egg yolks, nuts and liver.  It should be dispensed with on the liver during pregnancy because the high concentration of vitamin A could be toxic and there is the possibility of transmission of harmful substances stored in the liver. In several countries, including the United States there is artificially added folic acid flour and bakery products. For related discussion see article folic acid.
Calcium, iron and vitamin D
Calcium and iron to a high degree is required for the rapidly growing foetus. Calcium is present in particularly high concentrations of cheese and other dairy products.  Iron is found in meat, legumes and whole grain bread.  Although liver contains a lot of iron, the vitamin A content is so high that it can cause harm to the child.

With the threat of iron deficiency anaemia and iron supplements may also be taken.  Fatty fish meat (such as salmon) is a source of vitamin D. Lisa Bodnar and colleagues found deficits in a study in 80% of African American and almost half of white American women, even though 9 out of 10 of a total of 400 pregnant women needed vitamin supplementation.

Fluoride is considered not just as important to the hardening of tooth enamel, but also for bone growth. Foods with abundant fluoride content are saltwater fish, black tea and mineral water (those with a fluoride content higher than 1.5 mg per litre) provide fluoride.

In many regions the daily “needs” are a designated amount of about 1 milligram of fluoride not covered by the diet. In the trade therefore, fluoridated salt and fluoridated toothpaste is available. In some countries drinking water with fluoride added, should lead to better teeth.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids can not be formed by the body itself.  The omega-3 fatty acids are hormone-like substances that have an influence on the duration of the pregnancy, while another omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid, is used for the construction and function of the brain and eye (e.g. formation of Neuronal – membranes).

Saltwater fish such as salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackerel and tuna provide both long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid.  Predatory fish like tuna or swordfish however, often have relatively high mercury content, so they are not suitable for pregnant women. Raw fish should be avoided.

In the placenta sits a protein that ensures the supply for the growing child in particular of docosahexaenoic acid – at the expense of the mother. It provides the mother with omega-3 fatty acids particularly well, the pregnancy is slightly longer (up 1.6-2.6 days), and there is less chance of postpartum depression.

The child develops the functions of the eye and brain better (e.g. 4 points higher intelligence quotient at 4-year olds). Therefore, out of the major professional societies that have been developed, there are new recommendations for pregnant women. During pregnancy you should take at least 200 DHA / day, although it was pointed out that 2.7 g / day of omega-3 fatty acids in scientific trials did not have significant side effects.  Early pregnancy should have recognized deficiencies in the diet.

Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can be the cause of goiter in the unborn, but also be the cause of poor growth, a disorder of brain development or miscarriages and stillbirths. Regular milk and dairy products to eat and to use only iodized salt. Often, an additional revenue of Iodine tablets are required.