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Nutritional nuggets
Pregnant? Eat the right food

Guide yourself through a healthy pregnancy

Whether or not you're pregnant, a healthy diet includes proteins, carbohydrates, fats,vitamins, minerals, and plenty of water. Eating a variety of foods in adequate proportions is a good step toward staying healthy.

Scientists know that your diet can affect your baby's health - even before you become pregnant. Recent research shows that folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects(including spina bifida) from occurring during the earliest stages of fetal development -so it's important for you to consume plenty of it before you become pregnant and during the early weeks of your pregnancy.

Even though foods, particularly breakfast cereals, are fortified with folic acid, doctors now encourage women to take folic acid supplements before and throughout pregnancy(especially for the first 28 days).

Calcium is another important nutrient for pregnant women. Because your growing baby's calcium demands are high, you should increase your calcium consumption to prevent loss of calcium from your own bones.

Your best food sources of calcium are milk and other dairy products. However, if you have lactose intolerance or dislike milk and milk products, ask your doctor about a calcium supplement. (Signs of lactose intolerance include diarrhea, bloating, or gas after eating milk or milk products. Taking a lactase capsule or pill, or using lactose-free milk products may help.) Other calcium-rich foods include sardines or salmon with bones, tofu,broccoli, spinach, and calcium-fortified juices and foods.

Here are some of the most common nutrients you need and the foods that contain them:

Nutrient Needed for Best sources Protein cell growth and blood production Whole grains, legumes, nuts, dairy products, lean meat, fish, poultry, egg whites, beans, peanut butter, tofu Carbohydrates daily energy production breads, cereals, rice, potatoes, pasta, fruits,vegetables Calcium strong bones and teeth, muscle contraction, nerve function milk, cheese, yogurt,sardines or salmon with bones, spinach Iron red blood cell production (needed to prevent anemia) Pulses, dried fruits, green leafy vegetables, apples, lean red meat, iron-fortified whole-grain breads and cereals Vitamin A healthy skin, good eyesight, growing bones carrots, dark leafy greens, sweepstakes C healthy gums, teeth, and bones; assistance with iron absorption citrus fruit,broccoli, tomatoes, fortified fruit juices Vitamin B6 red blood cell formation; effective use of protein, fat, and carbohydrates pork, ham, whole-grain cereals, bananas Vitamin B12 formation of red blood cells, maintaining nervous system health meat, fish,poultry, milk(Note: vegetarians who don't eat dairy products need supplemental B12)Vitamin D healthy bones and teeth; aids absorption of calcium fortified milk, dairy products, cereals, and breads Folic acid blood and protein production, effective enzyme function green leafy vegetables,dark yellow fruits and vegetables, beans, peas, nuts Fat body energy stores meat, whole-milk dairy products, nuts, peanut butter, margarine,vegetable oils(Note: limit fat intake to 30% or less of your total daily calorie intake).

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