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Important Nutrients and Foods for a Healthy Pregnancy

If you're reading this I'm guessing your pregnant, so CONGRATS are in order! I loved being pregnant and everyone kept giving me advice like "sleep while you
Dec 15, 2015 | Joy McCarthy

If you're reading this I'm guessing your pregnant, so CONGRATS are in order! I loved being pregnant and everyone kept giving me advice like "sleep while you can"... this is good advice he he he :) Now I'm going to share some advice with you, on how to nourish your beautiful growing baby and your body.

When I was pregnant with Vienna. I had a few food aversions right from the get-go. Fish was a big one for me... we ate a lot in our home prior to pregnancy and then even the thought of it made me gag! This was really disappointing because fish is such a great source of iron, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Surprisingly, it is just as common to have food aversions as it is to have cravings. It can be easy to fall into a trap of eating the same foods day after day when you have aversions or cravings or both.

The key to good nutrition during pregnancy is to eat a variety of nourishing foods.

Enjoy this list of pregnancy power nutrients, foods and more than 20 recipes!


When you're pregnant, you need about twice the amount of iron as you did before you were expecting because your body uses iron to make extra blood for your baby. In fact, your blood volume doubles! Iron also helps move oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body -- and to your baby’s. Too little iron results in iron deficiency anemia, which is a common cause of fatigue during pregnancy. Here are some food sources of iron and recipe ideas:


You probably know that calcium is essential to build strong bones and teeth in your baby but did you also know that it is essential to grow a healthy heart, nerves, and muscles; and to develop a normal heart rhythm and blood-clotting abilities? Calcium deficiency during pregnancy will cause your baby to draw the calcium it needs from development from your bones, which can lead to health problems such as osteoporosis later in life. Here are some food sources of calcium and recipe ideas:


Folate is essential for development of baby’s neural tube (which develops into brain and spinal cord). It also helps prevent birth defects of your baby's brain and spinal cord that can occur at 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. It plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and may reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. Here are some food sources of folate and recipe ideas:

Note: Many prenatal supplements contain folic acid which is the synthetic form of folate and should be avoided during pregnancy.



Potassium's main role is maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in your body's cells. Since your blood volume expands by up to 50% during pregnancy, you'll need slightly more electrolytes (sodium, potassium, and chloride, working together) to keep the extra fluid in the right chemical balance. If you suffer from leg cramps during pregnancy, potassium-rich foods can help, as can magnesium. Here are some food sources of potassium and recipe ideas:


Protein when broken down into it's smallest parts become amino acids. These are the building blocks of your body's cells and of your baby's body as well. Pregnant women need about 70g of protein. This means eating protein at every single meal and snack as much as you might want to only eat carbs! ;) Protein is essential for growth of tissues including muscles in your baby. Here are some food sources of protein and recipe ideas:


During pregnancy your digestive system slows to a snail's pace to ensure you absorb the nutrients you need from food. This can mean {{reflink type=blog id=21945 title=constipation }} and bloating are what you're dealing with on a daily basis. Increasing your fibre intake can really help keep things moving and prevent a sluggish digestive system. Also, a higher intake of fibre can help prevent the glucose intolerance that can lead to gestational diabetes. Here are some food sources of fiber and recipe ideas:

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, just like calcium helps build healthy, strong bones. It prevents a condition called pre-eclampsia which can cause a lot of serious problems during pregnancy. At this time, 40-60% of the entire U.S. population is vitamin D deficient, including pregnant women! Here are some food sources of vitamin D and recipe ideas:


Vitamin D is not abundant in foods which makes it necessary to supplement. Be sure to speak with your natural healthcare practitioner regarding supplementation of any nutrient mentioned above. I wish you a joyous pregnancy, labour and delivery! 

What nutrients or foods did you find had the most positive impact on your pregnancy?

Dec 15, 2015 BY Joy McCarthy
Suki   •   December 16, 2015

Hello Joy! Great article! Is there any prenatal vitamins brand you would recommand??

Joy McCarthy   •   December 16, 2015

Brittany   •   December 16, 2015

Hi Joy! Just curious as to why folic acid should be avoided? I had never heard of that before! Loved this! Even though I am not pregnant and likely won't be for a while I am always interested in reading posts like this and saving them for the future. Brittany

Joy McCarthy   •   December 16, 2015

Bronwyn   •   December 16, 2015

Hi Joy and congrats on your bundle of "joy"! Could you elaborate on the prenatal vitamin comment? I ate well throughout my pregnancy but also took a prenatal vitamin and I have been recommended to keep taking one post partum. What are your thoughts on prenatal vitamins?

Joy McCarthy   •   December 16, 2015

Laura   •   January 19, 2016

Hi Joy, Thank you for the amazing information. I was wondering if you knew if Garden of Life, Raw Prenatal vitamins include the good folate you discussed above. I've looked but can't seem to find if it is or not. Thank you, Laura


Tracy   •   February 13, 2016

Great post Joy! I'm not pregnant now but am still breastfeeding and also vegetarian so I'm always keen to learn new ways to add in some extra nutrition. I love the sound of the Chickpea Detox Salad. Will be trying that. I'd love to do a detox but can't with nursing. My little man is 2 1/2 now and I don't know how much longer we'll go. Are there any gentle detoxes that are safe when nursing?


Deb   •   March 10, 2016

Hi Joy, In regards to protein - did you take any protein powders during your pregnancy? I would love to still incorporate a plant based protein into my morning smoothies - but most have the "check with a health practitioner" on the label so hard to know what to do there.

Kate McDonald Walker   •   March 14, 2016

Pooja   •   October 10, 2016

Hi Joy :) Can you recommend a calcium supplement to take while pregnant? Thanks. Loves

Heather Allen   •   October 11, 2016

M   •   October 24, 2016

I was wondering if you took a greens supplement during your pregnancy? If so, which one do you recommend?

Heather Allen   •   October 24, 2016

Patricia   •   November 16, 2016

Hi Joy, You mention that folic acid should be avoided during pregnancy. Can you please explain? I thought it was recommended to increase your folic acid intake! Also why would it be in most prenatal vitamins if it is not good for pregnant women? Thank you.

Heather Allen   •   November 17, 2016

Josee   •   June 26, 2017

This is awesome and remedies said here are so simple and unique.foods rich in iron Thanks for providing Us this wonderful article.

Rachel Molenda   •   June 26, 2017

Amy   •   July 13, 2017

Hi Joy, I saw that someone asked you about prenatal vitamins and you answer, "I used NFH and Pregnavite during my pregnancy and now I am taking Perfect Prenatal by New Chapter Organics." Did you switch during your pregnancy or did you take perfect prenatal as a postpartum vitamin? I'm just trying to make sure I understand. Thanks for clarifying.

Joy McCarthy   •   July 14, 2017

Pavlina   •   August 19, 2017

Hi Joy, I love your work, all your articles and videos, you're awesome! I was wondering if you have any tips for getting pregnant. Thank you.

Rachel Molenda   •   August 21, 2017

Brianna   •   August 18, 2018

Hi Joy, Just looks as though the folate in New Chapter's "Perfect Prenatal" is listed as Folic Acid, but you don't recommend taking folate in this synthetic form. Could you clarify about this? Thanks so much! I really appreciate all the resources and wellness you promote! :)

Rachel Molenda   •   August 20, 2018

Carly   •   December 10, 2018

Hi Joy, loved this article and all your other ones of nutrition during pregnancy! You mentioned the New Chapters Prefect Prenatal would you also suggest or consider it necessary to take the Wholemega for Moms Prenatal fish oil? I am going to be trying in the coming months and I want to be sure my body is extra ready for baby! I each an organic, whole foods diet so I feel I am already ahead of the game.

Joy McCarthy   •   December 10, 2018

Nicole   •   January 18, 2019

I take AOR's advanced b complex vitamin now. The ingredient list includes "1000 mcg Folic acid (calcium L-5-MTHF)". Is this safe to take during pregnancy? Thanks! :)

Joy McCarthy   •   January 18, 2019

nicole   •   January 18, 2019

Folic acid (calcium L-5-MTHF)


LC   •   January 19, 2019

Hi Joy! Thank you for all of this information! I am interested in taking the New Chapters prenatal, and already eat whole foods, and organic fruits and veggies as part of my daily diet. Is it possible to overload on any of the additional ingredients included in the prenatal? Also - do you think it has enough vitamin D? I currently take 2000 ius daily. I take the Genuine Health probiotic too- would you recommend stopping if I take the New Chapter prenatal? I understand it has fermented foods too. Thanks!

Joy McCarthy   •   January 20, 2019

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