acid has been found to help reduce the risk neural tube defects
(e.g. spina bifida) in babies when adequate amounts are consumed
before and during the early weeks of pregnancy. A daily supplement
containing 400 ug (0.4 mg) of folic acid along with high folate
foods is recommended by Health Canada. Foods high in folate include
cooked beans, chickpeas and lentils, cooked spinach and asparagus,
romaine lettuce, orange juice, canned pineapple juice, breakfast
cereals and sunflower seeds.
is also important during pregnancy when a woman's iron requirement
almost doubles. Non-pregnant women 19-50 years of age need 18 mg
per day compared to pregnant women who need 27 mg of iron per day.
Iron is used to build new red blood cells and carries oxygen from
the lungs to all parts of the body including the fetus. Iron stores
can be increased by eating iron-enriched breakfast cereals, cooked
beans, soybeans, lentils, chickpeas, clams, oysters, tofu, meat,
poultry and fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Eating iron-containing
plant foods such as breads and cereals with iron-rich meats or vitamin
C- rich foods or beverages (e.g. kiwi, strawberries, oranges, juices
containing vitamin C, etc.) helps increase iron absorption.
Calcium helps build and maintain
strong bones and teeth in the mother and baby and helps with other
important body functions. The requirement for women 19-50 years
of age is 1000 mg of calcium per day. Including at least 2 servings of
milk products daily is the most efficient way to meet calcium requirements
during pregnancy. If milk products are not consumed it is important
to include other calcium-containing foods such as calcium fortified
soy beverages and tofu; sesame seeds, sardines and salmon with bones;
cooked or canned beans; cooked kale or bok choy; broccoli; oranges;
cooked scallops and oysters, and almonds.