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Nutrition for Two

Posted by James on 05/14/2018 | Comment

…for moms-to-be

With the endless supply of information on what you “should” and “shouldn’t” do while pregnant, it is no surprise moms-to-be feel overwhelmed.

As a highly motivated mom-to-be, you want to do everything right. You want to eat the right things, do the right exercises, read every single pregnancy book, and buy all the right things! But, when all is said and done, you are going to make mistakes—and that’s okay. No one expects you to be perfect or suddenly know all the “ins and outs” of a healthy pregnancy.

With that being said, here are some important nutrition recommendations that may help put your mind at ease.

Here are the nitty gritty, straight-to-the-point, evidence-based recommendations:

Let’s start with CALORIE RECOMMENDATIONS. Most reasonably active reproductive-age females need about 2,100 to 2,300 calories each day. During your 1st trimester, YOU DON’T NEED ADDITIONAL CALORIES!! Shocking, I know. Yet, for the 2nd and 3rd trimesters, aim to increase your calories by 340 and 450 calories/day, respectively.


Protein. Prior to pregnancy, women should consume about 50 g/day protein, and during the 2nd and 3rd trimester of pregnancy, women should consume an additional 25 g/day.

Fat. Pregnant women should consume daily at least 300 mg of DHA—which is an omega-3 fatty acid. Furthermore, pregnant women should eat a total of 8 to 12 ounces of fatty fish each week to obtain omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, iron and choline.

However, the FDA cautions pregnant women and parents about avoiding fish with high levels of mercury. For detailed information, visit Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know

Carbohydrates. Pregnant women should ingest at least 175 g/day.


NEXT, THE VITAMINS. How much vitamin A do I need? 2500 IU/day but no more than 10,000 IU/day. Vitamin A is important during pregnancy HOWEVER, too much vitamin A can be dangerous for you and your baby.

How about vitamin D? 600 IU/day


Folic Acid. For healthy, reproductive-age women, 400 mcg/day. For pregnant women without a prior neural tube defect, 600 mcg/day. For women with a prior neural tube defect, 4000 mcg/day.

Cobalamin. How much do I need? 2.4 mcg/day prior to pregnancy and 2.6 mcg/day during pregnancy.

Choline. How much do I need? At least 450 mg/day during pregnancy and 550 mg/day when nursing.

MINERALS, such as calcium, iron, and iodine, are also important for pregnant women.

How much calcium do I need? 1000 mg/day.

What about iron? 18 mg/day prior to pregnancy and 27 mg/day during pregnancy.

…and iodine? Pregnant and lactating women need at least 220 and 290 mcg/day, respectively.


A recent systematic review included 17 trials with 137,791 pregnant women who incorporated multiple-micronutrient supplementation into their diet. The authors concluded that “pregnant women who received multiple-micronutrient supplementation had fewer low birthweight babies and small-for-gestational-age babies than pregnant women who received only iron, with or without folic acid,” (1).

Additionally, authors of a review article on micronutrient supplementation and placental function suggest micronutrient supplementation to be a “cost effective, applicable, and safe method of improving pregnancy outcomes for millions of women across the globe,” (2). For additional AND reputable resources, visit the World Health Organization, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


(1) Haider BA, Bhutta ZA. Multiple-micronutrient supplementation for women during pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017.

(2) Richard K, Holland O, Landers K, Vanderlelie JJ, Hofstee P, Cuffe JSM, Perkins AV. Review: Effects of maternal micronutrient supplementation on placental function. Placenta. 2017; 54: 38-44.



Written by Nicole Lindel ~ Nutrition Education Master’s Student at Columbia University