Five Most Important Nutrients For Pregnancy & Five Things To Avoid When Pregnant 



At Limp in Leap out Physiotherapy in Belfield, we are proud to present our guest blogger who has wrote a piece on Nutrition and Pregnancy. 

Written by Stefanie Valakas - Student Dietitian, The University of Sydney

If you're expecting, it is critical to provide both you and your baby nourishment for optimal growth and development and reduce the risk of complications. Here are the nutrients (and foods) you should think about and food and drinks to avoid when you're pregnant. 


Please note, before you start any supplements or make dietary changes that you consult your GP to ensure they're suitable for you and your pregnancy.

First of all, it is important to know that you are not eating for two when you're pregnant. In fact, it's important to not gain excessive weight (or too little weight) when you're pregnant to reduce your risk of complications in birth and for your baby later in life. This is highly dependent on your pre-pregnancy weight too. So how much extra do you need when pregnant? Well, during the first trimester, you do not require any extra calories. However, during the 2nd and 3rd trimester requirements do start to increase up to about 1900 kJ per day (or 450 calories per day). As you can see this certainly not double the amount you'd normally eat!

When you're pregnant, it is an important time to fuel your own body and your baby's with enough of each vitamin and mineral to assist in the development and formation of your baby. The first nutrient is folate, the B vitamin found in green leafy vegetables and bread. Folate is critical during the pre-conception (that means it's important for those of you planning a pregnancy in the next few months) and the first trimester of pregnancy. This vitamin is needed for the proper formation of your baby's spinal cord. It is often very difficult to reach this folate target without some assistance from a supplement. Make sure you check the label of your pre-natal supplement for folate! There has also been new evidence to show that vitamin B3 or niacin is just as important as folate for the proper development of your baby, however we need more research before we consider providing supplements. Most people reach their niacin requirements each day by eating a healthful diet which includes vegetables, grains, dairy and lean meats. Another key nutrient that is important for pregnant women is iron. Iron is found in red meat, as well as all other meats and in less-absorbable forms in fruits, vegetables and legumes. Your requirement for iron will increase as you progress throughout your pregnancy as the blood stores for your baby grow, but the good news is your body also becomes better at absorbing iron heading towards the third trimester. 


Zinc is a mineral that is critical for the formation of your baby's genetic material and is also important for your storage tissues too. Zinc is found in red meats, chicken and pork, spinach, pumpkin seeds and nuts. If you're a vegetarian, you may require supplementation or specialist assistance to reach your iron and zinc needs as plant sources of iron are not as well absorbed by the

A mineral essential for the proper mental and physical development of your growing bub is iodine. Iodine is naturally found in seafood (avoid chilled seafood and those high in mercury - more below), however it is also in the salt used in bread flour. Again, as requirements are high during pregnancy, this is another mineral to look out for on your pre-natal supplement label. The last key nutrient is vitamin A, important for the rapidly dividing cells that will turn into every organ your baby needs. This one should not be supplemented, as too much vitamin A can harm the baby. You can easily reach your vitamin A needs by including meat in your diet, as well as orange-coloured fruit and vegetables such as mangoes and carrots.

There are a few things pregnant mums should avoid:
(1) Alcohol - there is no known safe amount of alcohol.
(2) Fish with a high mercury content - larger fish such as shark, flake, catfish and others (see link for more details)
(3) Soft-cheeses (such as brie, camembert, mouldy cheeses) & unpasteurised products ("raw" milk)
(4) Chilled seafood (such as oysters)
(5) Cold meats (such as salami and ham)

These foods are more likely to contain Listeria, a bacteria that can potentially harm your unborn child.

For more information visit the Eat for Health website which outlines exactly how many extra serves of each food you need each day to support both you and your baby: Click Here

Interested in more real nutrition information? Check out Stefanie's blog for more at