First trimester is the most important time for the baby. It is the time when the baby implants in the mother?s womb and begins to develop. It is also the time when the organs begin to form. A pregnant women needs to take additional nutrients required for the baby?s development.

While substances like proteins, carbohydrates can be obtained from everyday meals, special nutrients like Zinc, Folic acid, Calcium, Vitamin D and Iron needs to be supplemented. Usually, your doctor prescribes some prenatal vitamins which constitute most of the above substances. You can play your part by taking these nutrients from naturally available foods.

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Folic acid

It is advised that pregnant women take Folic acid supplements or foods rich in Folic acid even before they get pregnant. Folic acid is essential for the baby?s brain development and to prevent neurological developments in the spinal cord.

Required level: 400 mcg daily

Foods: Folic acid is available in fortified cereals, green leafy vegetables, lentils, dried beans, broccoli, oranges and asparagus. Eat generous portions of these foods and include at least one in your meal.

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Iron

Pregnant women require additional blood to meet baby?s growth so the body increases its blood supply to meet the requirement. When the blood level increases, level of Iron in the blood reduces and without Iron supplement, the mother can become anemic.

Required level: 30 mg daily

Foods: Beans, iron- fortified cereals, dried fruits, lean red meat and spinach. Vitamin C is known to increase the absorption of Iron, therefore include citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and even tomato juice in your meal.

DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)

DHA is one of the Omega- 3 fatty acids and is essential for the baby?s proper brain development vision. It also prevents any heart diseases for the mother. It also supports the nervous system development and aids in hand-eye coordination and motor skills.

Required level: 200 mg daily

Foods: Fishes like tuna, salmon, herring and mackerel. Poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables and dark green vegetables.

Calcium:

The baby gets its calcium from the mother?s blood, therefore the mother requires additional calcium to meet the body?s requirement. Calcium is essential for the baby to conduct nerve impulses and to build muscles. Calcium helps in preventing pre-eclampsia a condition where blood pressure is increased by pregnancy.

Required level: 1,000 to 1,200 mg daily

Foods: Dairy products, spinach, turnip, green leafy vegetables, beans, celery, lettuce, kale, broccoli, cabbage, mint leaves, thyme, basil, oregano, parsley, garlic, rosemary, tofu, oranges, almonds and calcium fortified cereals.

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for the formation of baby?s bones and teeth. Vitamin D deficiency can cause growth retardation and skeletal abnormalities. It can also cause rickets in the baby and can also hinder with development of immunity.

Required level: 4, 000 IU daily

Foods: Eggs, fortified cereal, cheese, yogurt, fatty fish and fish liver oil. The best source of Vitamin D is the sun. Exposure to the sun creates Vitamin D in our body. It is therefore advisable for pregnant women to go for walks early in the morning or evening.

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