6 Key Nutrients During Pregnancy

Are you pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant? If so, now is the time to start looking at what those extra needed nutrients during pregnancy. It is important to be aware of these essential nutrients as you plan to become pregnant and when your little munchkin is growing in you. In order to keep your baby growing healthy and strong, you must include these 6 key nutrients during pregnancy in your diet.

Key Nutrients to Look for During Pregnancy


Folate is a B vitamin (vitamin B-9) that every cell in your body requires. It is one of the most important key nutrients during pregnancy. It is important in the prevention of neural tube defects, heart defects, and birth defects of the mouth, including cleft palate and lip.

The easiest way to ensure you are getting the essential amount of folate (600mcg/daily during pregnancy) is through a prenatal vitamin. It’s important to take a prenatal at least 3 month before even trying to get pregnant to prep your body nutritionally.

A lot of prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, but about 60% of women have the reduced ability to use folic acid due to genetics (MTHFR enzyme). Folate is better absorbed in the body, as it’s the main type of folate in our blood and there is a low risk of toxicity.

Where can we get folate in foods?
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • leafy green vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, spring greens and spinach
  • peas
  • chickpeas and kidney beans
  • liver
  • Lentils
  • Orange juice


Iron is another one of the extremely key nutrients during pregnancy. You need twice the amount that your body usually requires. In pregnancy, 27 mg per day is needed. Iron bisglycinate is best absorbed and can decrease GI side effects like constipation, nauseas and vomiting.

While pregnant, your body needs iron to carry oxygen to your baby through your blood cells. Your baby also needs iron to help make his or her own blood. 

Good sources of iron include:
  • Beans, nuts, raisins, and dried fruit
  • Lean red meat, poultry and seafood
  • Peanut butter
  • Eggs
  • Some cereals and bread will have iron added to them as well.

Also, pairing your iron rich foods with something that is rich in vitamin C will enhance the absorption of iron into your body. If you’re a vegetarian or do not eat much meat, you’ll need to know how to better absorb iron from plant sources. Some examples of good pairings include:

  • Adding strawberries or blueberries with oatmeal and chia seeds
  • Adding citrus fruits or strawberries to a spinach salad (spinach is rich in iron)
  • Putting bell peppers or tomatoes with rice and beans
  • Adding lemon juice or zest to quinoa salad or bean salad or as a salad dressing on top of spinach and kale
  • Making your loaded potatoes with sweet potatoes and black beans
  • Having a black bean burger with tomatoes and sautéed bell pepper with sweet potatoes fries or broccoli on the side. 

Omega 3’s and DHA 

DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid that helps with the growth and development of your baby’s brain and eyes. Most prenatal supplements will have this included in them already, so be sure to check the label. If it is not included, you may need to get an extra supplement as this is a key nutrient during pregnancy.

You need 300mg of these nutrients during pregnancy each day to make sure your baby is getting what he needs- DHA specifically. Your supplement needs to contain EPA as well, it’s another omega 3 fat that transports DHA across placenta to the baby.

Food sources that are rich in DHA include:


Probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that helps both mom and baby during pregnancy. Some scientists suggest that probiotics may have beneficial effects on the baby’s microbiota, which could help prevent allergic diseases. Research has also suggested that supplementation with targeted probiotics during pregnancy can result in improved blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels can impact so many aspects of pregnancy, such as nausea, energy, and mood- women taking a probiotic saw a 23% decrease in these symtpoms. Ideally it is suggested to take a probiotic with at least 30 billion CFUs per serving. High quality probiotics will contain both Lactobacillus and Bifidus strains. For vaginal health, look for strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus, GR-1 and Lactobacillus reuteri, RC-14.

In additon to supplementation, there are foods high in probiotics:

  • Yogurt
  • Buttermilk
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Tempeh
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso Soup
  • Pickles
  • Kefir
  • Kimchi

Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is a key nutrient in pregnancy because it helps our body absorb calcium. Also, it is an important vitamin in helping your nerves and immune system. During pregnancy, it’s especially important to stay healthy and to protect your baby. Receiving the essential amount of vitamin D will only help to protect you and your baby even more from sickness and disease. It’s also vital in the development of your baby’s bones and teeth. You need 4000 IU each day (prenatals have around 600 IU) with additional vitamin D supplement (with vitamin K2!).

Vitamin K2 is found only in animal products. This works with vitamins A and D to support normal mineral metabolism in the body, which is important for mom and baby development.

You can get vitamin D from taking both your prenatal and including the following foods in your diet:

  • Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna
  • Eggs 


Choline is a key nutrient that is vital for maternal and fetal health during pregnancy. It plays a role in many physiological processes, including: brain development and neural tube formation. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, pregnant women should consume 450 milligrams of choline per day. Choline also enhances the transport of nutrients across the placenta, including DHA-they go hand in hand.

Foods rich in choline include:

Prenatal Vitamins and Supplements We Love

It is important to talk to your doctor about the supplements you are taking and get approval before you add in new ones!

How We Can Help

At Anderson’s Nutrition, we focus on the four Pillars of Health – nutrition, movement, stress, and sleep – because we know each pillar plays a vital role in our overall health and especially during pregnancy. Therefore if you are interested in working with one of our Registered Dietitians, they can create a custom, realistic plan for you that can help you grow a healthy baby! Click the button below to schedule an appointment online.

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