Calories are needed for energy. If there is a lack of caloric intake, the body uses the protein needed by the fetus for energy.
There is continuous effort to identify the ideal amounts of protein, calories, and vitamins for the pregnant mother and her growing baby. In general, the pregnant woman may eat what she wants in the amounts that she desires and salted to taste. In the case of the socioeconomically deprived woman, there should be sufficient food available.
The weight should be monitored with the weight gain of around 25 to 35 pounds in women with a normal body mass index (BMI). Food intake should be nutritionally dense. Iron tablets containing 27 mg should be taken daily plus supplementation of folic acid before and in the early weeks of pregnancy. The hematocrit or hemoglobin levels should be rechecked at 28 to 32 weeks to note any significant decrease. Here, some guidelines on vitamin requirements during pregnancy:
● Vitamin A. If the diet is sufficient in vitamin A, no supplement is needed. Very high doses during pregnancy (10,000- 50,000 IU) daily is associated with birth defects. Supplementation may be needed in developing countries with a high incidence of vitamin A deficiency.
● Vitamin B12 is contained in foods of animal origin; hence, strict vegetarians who become pregnant may need supplementation.
● Vitamin B6. For pregnant women at high risk for poor nutrition, 2 mg/day supplementation is recommended.
● Vitamin C. The recommended dietary allowance during pregnancy is 80-85 mg/day.
A pregnant woman should be conscious of the food she eats because it will affect not only her but the baby as well. She may love to eat a lot (and frequently at that) but the dictum of “anything in excess is bad” holds true.