25 Mar Baby Food You Will Want to Eat
By Mums Fitness Founder, Timo Topp
You and your baby need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to be healthy and prevent developmental problems and health issues. Eating a balanced diet of whole foods, fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish will provide you with what you need. This article looks at key nutrients that you and your baby need and what specific foods you need to eat to obtain them.
Vitamin A You and your baby need this to support immune function. It will help you heal after birth. Vitamin A deficiencies are associated with miscarriage and congenital abnormalities. However during pregnancy it is important not to get too much. Beta carotene from vegetables is a safe source as the body converts it into vitamin A.
Sources: Carrots, pumpkin, spinach and kale.
B vitamins are required for overall health, energy production and to combat stress. Specifically B12 assists in the growth and the development of baby’s nervous system and brain.
B12 Sources: is only found in animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter.
Folic Acid – Folate is essential for foetal development. It is required to get a continuous supply as the body cannot store it. During pregnancy the recommended dosage doubles hence the importance of a supplement.
Sources: Dark green vegetables including spinach, kale, broccoli and also lentils.
Vitamin C is important for immune function and helps with the absorption of nutrients iron and calcium plus it is involved in the formation of collagen which is required for baby’s blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, bones and teeth.
Sources: Citrus fruits, berries, kale, broccoli, cabbage and spinach.
Vitamin D is essential for absorption of calcium which promotes growth of baby’s bones and teeth. Low levels are associated with increased risk of gestational diabetes.
Sources: sunlight, eggs and oily fish such as salmon trout and sardines.
Vitamin E is required for baby’s nervous system and is an antioxidant to prevent illness including preventing high blood pressure common in pregnancy.
Sources: olive oil, nuts sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables, avocado, fish and eggs.
Vitamin K is required for blood clotting and controlling excessive bleeding hence a deficiency could result in heavy bleeding at birth. Babies are generally born with low levels and can be given supplementation.
Sources: Green leafy vegetables, dairy products and eggs.
Zinc is an important mineral during pregnancy to help with healthy growth and development of baby’s bones, immune system and brain. It can help with stretch marks, perineal tears and cracked nipples as it is required for the formation of the connective tissue – elastin. Low zinc levels are associated with low birth weights, premature birth and defects and postnatal depression.
Sources: lean meat, chicken, fish, cheese, eggs dairy, sunflower seeds and lentils.
Calcium is important for the growth of bones and teeth. Rapid skeletal growth occurs in the second trimester. Baby will draw upon your own calcium reserves if you do not get enough resulting in problems with osteoporosis later in life. It is also important for normal blood pressure, fluid retention and reduce the risk of hypertension and preeclampsia.
Sources: Milk, dairy, cheese, yoghurt, almonds, sunflower seeds, tahini, tofu and green leafy vegetables.
Magnesium can help ease morning sickness, fluid retention and leg cramps. It also is involved in regulating blood sugar levels and can prevent gestational diabetes. It is also important for energy production and producing energy. Baby requires it for bones, teeth and nervous system. Magnesium is also important for labor – uterus contractions and the dilation of the cervix. Deficiency has been associated with miscarriage, low birth weights, developmental problems and preeclampsia.
Sources: Sunflower seeds, nuts, yoghurt, tofu, mineral water, tofu, green vegetables, seaweed and wholegrains.
Chromium helps with maintaining blood sugar levels, thus prevent sugar cravings and gestational diabetes. Baby needs it for building proteins and tissue.
Sources: Wholegrain breads and cereals, lean meat, cheese, asparagus, nuts and spinach.
Iodine is important for your baby’s nervous system and brain development and overall growth. Deficiency can contribute to intellectual disabilities and miscarriage.
Sources: Kelp (in sushi) spirulina, seaweed, dairy, sunflower seeds and seafood.
Potassium helps with optimal fluids and blood pressure which increase during pregnancy. It is required for nerve and muscle growth. It may help prevent muscle cramps.
Sources: Potato, cabbage, strawberries, avocado, nuts, seeds, red meat, chicken, fish, dairy and yoghurt.
Omega 3 fats are vital for the development of the brain and nervous system. They must come from the diet. Good levels during pregnancy will enhance baby’s cognitive and intellectual ability. They also are good for mum’s overall health, reducing stretch marks and improving circulation. Deficiency can contribute to preeclampsia, low birth weight and depression.
Safe sources: salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines plus nuts and seeds.
Wholegrains are important for energy for you and baby plus fibre to prevent constipation and regulate blood sugar levels.
Sources: brown rice, oats, quinoa and muesli.
Water requirements increase in pregnancy due to the increase in blood volume and baby needs water for the amniotic fluid that surrounds and protects. Plus it helps mum prevent fluid retention, urinary tract infections and constipation.
The best foods for you and baby
To meet the nutritional needs of you and your baby in your pregnancy and breast feeding diet:
• Green leafy vegetables
• Fruits and vegetables
• Nuts and sunflower seeds
• Dairy, eggs and yoghurt
• Lean red meat and some fish
• Wholegrain cereals
Including these foods will go a long way to helping keep you and baby healthy. However it might be worth considering taking a supplement to ensure you get all the nutrients you need. Even if you do eat most of the above foods you still may not get enough nutrients hence the significance of a good pregnancy multivitamin.