expert opinion

New recommendations for nutrition during pregnancy

July 1, 2011

file

“During pregnancy, the body is operating at peak performance. To achieve this it must be continually supplied with essential nutrients. However, the need for vitamins and minerals increases rapidly during pregnancy. How is it possible to take in more nutrients without having to actually eat more? The trick is to eat foods with a high nutrient density, i.e. with many vitamins and minerals but with few calories. In this way pregnant women can optimize their diet through clever food choice. A good example of this is whole-wheat bread, which has about twice as much folic acid, iron and various B vitamins compared to white bread, but does not deliver more energy. Vegetables, fruit, legumes, low-fat dairy products, lean meats and fish are also among the most nutrient-dense and thus especially recommended products.

The higher demand for iodine and folic acid during pregnancy cannot be covered by food alone. All the women who wish to have children and all expectant mothers should take folic acid tablets up until the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. Experts recommend a supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid per day in addition to a well-balanced diet. An adequate intake of iodine must also be ensured before and during pregnancy. Iodized salt or foods containing iodized salt, two servings of fish per week and regular milk and dairy products contribute to a good supply. It is recommended that pregnant women take in an additional 100 (to 150) micrograms iodine in the form of iodine tablets during pregnancy. In addition, the supply of iron should be kept in mind. Because there are vast individual differences, pregnant women should talk to their gynecologist about the subject.

However, pregnant women do not require more energy at first, meaning “eating for two” is by no means advisable. On the contrary: Should the expectant mother’s weight increase too rapidly as a result of too many calories, the result can be that the child then becomes over-nourished. This increases the risk that the child be born with a high birth weight and then become overweight in later life and develop type 2 diabetes mellitus. Only in the latter part of pregnancy does the need for energy increase by about

10 percent, i.e. by approximately 250 calories. This increased requirement can be met by just one slice of wholegrain bread with cheese and a piece of tomato or by a pot of yoghurt, a handful of berries and three tablespoons of muesli.”

June 2011

www.gesund-ins-leben.de