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A pregnant woman searches the internet on her computer looking for the most important nutrients needed during pregnancy.

What are the Most Important Nutrients Needed during Pregnancy?

Photo by Rylee Hitchner

Grocery shopping can take on a whole new layer of complexity during pregnancy; what was once a simple task suddenly raises an important question: “what are the nutrients needed during pregnancy?”

All of a sudden you’re over thinking everything, checking labels and holding up the grocery line with confusion and indecision.  If you gain a better understanding of the nutrients your body needs during pregnancy, you can become  a smarter shopper prepared  to make healthier choices.

So what are the most important nutrients needed during pregnancy?  We’ve gone through and highlighted a few of the most important nutrients, as well as the foods that contain them.


You’ve probably heard this one. It’s true that Folate (called folic acid when taken as a supplement) helps your body build and maintain healthy new cells.  It particularly helps maintain healthy red blood cells, which bring oxygen to your and your baby’s body.

In addition, Folate is said to protect against congenital malformations, including neural tube defects and can reduce the risk of heart defects, cleft lips, limb defects, and urinary tract anomalies. Since Folate is one of the most important nutrients needed during pregnancy, doctors recommend healthy doses throughout pregnancy, breastfeeding, and planned conception.

Sources of folate include most beans, avocado, spinach, avocado, broccoli, asparagus, beets, oranges and sunflowers.


Calcium helps promote strong bones and teeth for both you and your baby.  While dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are the richest sources of calcium, many cereals and fruit juices are fortified with calcium.  Salmon and spinach contain small amounts of calcium.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D  helps build strong bones and teeth.  Good sources of vitamin D include salmon, tuna and other fatty fish, as well as fortified milk and orange juice.  Eggs yolks also contain vitamin D.


Protein is also essential to promote overall growth, especially later in your pregnancy.  Good sources of protein include the obvious: meat, fish, beans, and eggs. You can also find significant portions of protein in cottage cheese, greek yogurt and peanut or almond butter.


Both you and your baby need iron during pregnancy.  Lack of iron can cause anemia, a condition caused by lower oxygen levels in blood cells.  Side effects of anemia include a decrease in the strength of your immune system, fatigue, and risk of preterm delivery.  To prevent anemia, eat foods rich in iron, including iron-fortified breakfast cereals, beans, and spinach.

Nutrient Rich Foods

There a few foods that contain several of these essential nutrients: nutrient-fortified breakfast cereals, milk, and spinach.  Incorporating these foods into your diet will help you “multi-task” your nutrition intake and cover a few of the most important nutrients needed during pregnancy.

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