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Key Nutrients Every Pregnant Woman Should Add to Her Diet

From pickles and peanut butter to spicy chips and ice cream, many women find that pregnancy comes with a lot of interesting food cravings. But did you know these cravings may actually be your body’s way of telling you what you and your growing baby need? 

There are five key nutrients that every pregnant woman should add to a balanced diet in order to maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure, as well as support baby’s development. Many pregnant patients only need an additional 300 calories a day, but that can vary from person to person. So it’s important to focus on consuming the key nutrients your body needs for a healthy pregnancy. 


Ice cream is a popular pick for pregnant women, which makes sense because calcium is found in dairy products. Your baby needs calcium to build strong bones and develop a healthy heart, nerves and muscles. Getting enough calcium also reduces your risk of hypertension and preeclampsia. Try to get in three servings of calcium-rich foods a day like low-fat milk or yogurt, calcium-fortified orange juice or almonds. 


Mild anemia is common during pregnancy. Your body uses iron to make more blood to supply oxygen to your baby. Some moms suffer from anemia if they do not consume enough high-iron foods such as lean meat like beef, seafood like canned light tuna, or dark leafy greens like kale and spinach. Craving ice is a common symptom of anemia for some women, as well. 

Some moms may also crave salty foods like a cold, crunchy pickle. Pickles and their juice can also be used to replace electrolytes and combat dehydration. While pickles are a good source of vitamins and minerals, they’re also high in sodium. So be mindful of your salt intake and don’t over-indulge! 

Vitamin C 

You can easily get the Vitamin C both you and baby need from fruits and vegetables. It’s essential for a baby’s growth and helps with iron absorption. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, peppers, greens, tomatoes, cantaloupe, citrus, mango and strawberries are all delicious sources of Vitamin C. 

Folic Acid

It’s recommended that women who are pregnant or trying to conceive take 400 micrograms of folic acid a day to support the baby’s brain development. It also aids in the production of DNA and RNA, the body’s genetic material. The nutrient can help reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine. Foods like chickpeas, kidney beans, leafy greens, eggs and citrus fruits all contain folic acid. You can also talk to your doctor for their recommendation on prenatal multivitamins containing folic acid.


These are fat sources that are also considered critical building blocks for the baby’s brain and eyes. They’re also shown to reduce the risk of preterm birth and postpartum depression. High food sources include salmon, walnuts, flax seed, and chia seed. 

Now that you know the five key nutrients every pregnant woman should add to her diet, try these two easy recipes:

Omega-3 Granola Parfait

For the granola:
1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup walnuts (roughly chopped)
1 tablespoon each chia seeds and ground flax seeds
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Stir together ingredients in a large bowl. Spread into 9×13 in greased baking dish. Bake 25 minutes, turning with spatula halfway through, or until golden brown.

To assemble parfait:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup granola
¼ cup blueberries
Drizzle with honey

Salmon Stuffed Avocado

1 pouch cooked salmon
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced cucumber
2 tablespoons olive oil based mayo
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
1 avocado

Mix all ingredients except avocado in a bowl. Scoop into each avocado half. Garnish with cilantro. 

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