6 Nutrients That Promote a Healthy Pregnancy

6 Nutrients That Promote a Healthy Pregnancy

Nov 08, 2023Tori Sajovec, RD, LD

When we think of pregnancy, many think of an exciting stage of life where you can indulge in all the cravings and enjoy "eating for two." But nobody can prepare you for how it feels to have morning sickness and food aversions. You may find nothing sounds good to eat, and everything smells incredibly strong! Then, something very specific and odd sounds tolerable to eat, and it is a quest to find that exact item at that particular time. Plus, don't forget about following all the extra food safety precautions and remembering the recommended ranges of weight to gain during pregnancy. Yikes! Eating during pregnancy can be extremely challenging. As a dietitian, some diet advice during pregnancy is to, if possible, do what you can before pregnancy to be well-nourished and give yourself grace and flexibility with your eating during your pregnancy. 


Finding support throughout your pregnancy will be essential. If you are looking for individual nutrition support during your pregnancy, contact a Hy-Vee registered dietitian for help. In the meantime, here are some recommendations to promote a balanced diet and, in turn, a healthy pregnancy. 


Before pregnancy, if possible, do what you can to be well-nourished. Talk with your healthcare provider about starting a prenatal supplement. WholeLotta Good offers prenatal multivitamins containing essential nutrients such as folic acid and DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid important to infant development. Talk with your care provider and consider adopting a lifestyle routine that energizes you with how you're eating and moving your body. A Hy-Vee dietitian can help you create a personalized plan. 


During pregnancy, remember to give yourself grace and be flexible with your intake as you navigate morning sickness, food aversions, cravings and exhaustion. Later on in pregnancy, pregnant women require approximately an additional 300 calories per day. If possible, make this extra intake nutritionally dense to give yourself and your baby all the necessary nutrients. Here is a list of six key nutrients recommended to support a healthy pregnancy — and which foods are sources of these nutrients. 


Folate/Folic Acid 
Folate is a B vitamin that helps prevent problems with the brain and spinal cord during development. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate found in fortified foods and supplements. You can find folate/folic acid in fortified cereals, spinach, beans, asparagus, oranges and peanuts.  
Protein is critical to a baby's growth and development. Try incorporating protein sources such as beef, poultry, fish, cheese, milk, yogurt, lentils, beans, nuts and eggs into your diet. 
Vitamin D 
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. The body needs these nutrients to promote healthy bones and teeth. Add fortified milk or juice, fatty fish and eggs to your diet. The body also makes its own vitamin D when exposed to sunlight in the summer. Just remember to apply sunscreen if you plan to be out in the sun for extended periods of time.  
Calcium is needed for strong bones and teeth and supports the circulatory, muscular and nervous systems. Foods that contain calcium include fortified cereal and orange juice, cheese, milk, yogurt, salmon, spinach, broccoli and kale.  
Iron makes hemoglobin in red blood cells to carry oxygen to various tissues. Pregnant women need twice the amount of iron as non-pregnant women because the body needs to make more blood to supply the baby with oxygen. Add iron to your diet with fortified cereal, beef, poultry, spinach, beans and iron supplements, which may be needed later on in pregnancy. Always consult with your care provider before starting any supplements. 
Iodine is a mineral needed for thyroid hormone production; iodine also helps a baby's nervous system develop. Iodine is commonly found in iodized salt, fish, milk, cheese, yogurt, enriched bread and fortified cereal.  


Connect with your local Hy-Vee dietitian on our virtual nutrition services platform and schedule a complimentary Discovery Session to learn more. Hy-Vee dietitians offer various services to help you meet your weight loss and nutrition goals, including one-on-one consultation packages, personalized menu plan programs, virtual nutrition store tours and more. 


The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice. 

About the Registered Dietitian       
Tori Sajovec RD, LD, received her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics with a minor in English from Iowa State University. From there, her passions took her to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she completed her 10-month dietetic internship program through Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. As her knowledge of food and nutrition grew, so did her desire to educate customers and clients on their overall well-being. Her goal as a dietitian is to make health and wellness an insightful and enjoyable lifestyle for all.

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