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The Six Components of Nutrition

pregnant-eat-tomatoes-300wThere are six basic components to nutrition and pregnant women need EVERY one of them. They are as follows:

  • Protein
    • Carbohydrates
      • Fats
  • Vitamins
    • Minerals
      • and Water

Protein is found in every cell, muscle and tissue of our body and is also present in many of the foods that we eat. The protein in our body is essentially the same as the protein in our food, except that it is structured differently. Pregnant women need protein to grow a baby with strong muscles and tissues.

Carbohydrate is the main source of energy and comprises the main bulk of the average human diet. For your brain, heart and nervous system to function properly, a constant supply of carbohydrate is needed. Pregnant women need carbohydrates not only to keep their own energy supplies adequate, but also to grow a strong brain and nervous system in her baby.

Dietary fat is one of the three macronutrients, along with protein and carbohydrates, that provide energy for your body. Fat is essential to your health because it supports a number of your body's functions. Some vitamins, for instance, must have fat to dissolve and nourish your body.
Your baby’s brain is made up of 60% fat and eating adequate amounts in pregnancy will ensure that your baby gets a good supply.

Vitamins are considered micronutrients and though only needed in small amounts are imperative for every function of pregnancy. For example, vitamin A is crucial in the development of a strong immune system and vitamin D is important for ensuring a strong skeletal structure in your baby.

Minerals are also micronutrients and again, are necessary for a healthy pregnancy. For example, calcium is integral, not just to healthy bones, but for muscle and heart function as well. Magnesium is another important mineral for pregnancy. Inadequate amounts can lead to headaches, leg cramps and constipation.

Water isn’t considered a nutrient, but as you know, it’s essential to human life. A pregnant woman’s blood volume increases by 30%-50% when she’s pregnant! This increases her need for water quite significantly. Water also helps to flush the body of waste and toxins which is especially important when growing a baby. Pregnant women should shoot for 2-3 quarts of water a day or half their body weight in ounces.

To ensure that you get a well balanced diet while you’re pregnant, try creating your own goals for optimal nutrition. Listening to your instincts is often a better way to know what your baby and your body need than reading from guidelines in a book. For example, maybe you want to try for three vegetables and two fruits a day, 2 quarts of water and a smoothie, in addition to whatever else you eat.