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Pregnancy Health Center

Recommended Daily Allowances Chart

When you're pregnant or breastfeeding, it's important to take a close look at your diet to make sure that you and your baby are getting all of the calories and nutrients you need. What changes should you make? To find out, look over the table below, which lists the recommended daily allowances for various nutrients before conception, during pregnancy, and while you're nursing your baby. The table also explains the importance of each of these nutrients.

The best way to improve your diet is by eating a variety of healthy foods. Taking a daily prenatal vitamin recommended by your health care provider will help fill in any nutritional gaps. (If you're a vegetarian or are on another special diet, be sure to talk to your caregiver about additional dietary changes you may need to make.) Remember, too, that "eating for two" doesn't mean twice as much. You need just 300 extra calories a day (400 while nursing) - equal to one glass of milk, a banana, and 10 crackers.

NutrientNon-pregnant WomenPregnant WomenLactating WomenFunction
Kilocalories220025002600Provides energy for basic body functioning
Vitamin A [micrograms=mcg or retinal equivalents (RE)]8008001300Aids vision; needed for growth of bones and teeth
Vitamin B6 (milligrams=mg) in the formation of red blood cells
Vitamin B12 (mcg) in the formation of red blood cells
Vitamin C (mg)75 85 120 Needed for wound healing, resistance to infection, and collagen formation
Vitamin D (mcg)55 5 Aids in the growth of bones and teeth
Vitamin E (mg TE)15 1519Needed for the formation and use of red blood cells and muscles
Vitamin K (mcg)90 90 90 Prevents a rare bleeding disorder in the newborn
Calcium (mg)120010001000Essential for the growth and health of bones and teeth and proper muscle and nerve function
Folate (mcg)400 600 500 Prevents neural tube defects in the fetus; essential for blood and protein production and cell division
Iodine (mcg)150220290Required for hormone production
Iron (mg ferrous iron)1827 9 Essential for the production of hemoglobin, an important blood protein
Magnesium (mg)320 350 - 360310 - 320Needed for proper nerve and muscle function
Niacin (mg NE)1418 17 Promotes healthy skin, nerves, and digestion; helps the body use carbohydrates
Phosphorous (mg)700 700 700 Essential for the growth and health of bones and teeth
Protein (grams=g)38 50 60Needed for overall health and growth; aids in blood production and supplies the "building blocks" for your baby's body
Riboflavin (mg) in the release of energy to cells
Thiamin (mg) the body digest carbohydrates
Zinc (mg)8 1112Aids in the production of enzymes and insulin

These additional nutrient requirements can be taken in by choosing the right kinds of foods. For instance, green leafy vegetables are both high in folic acid and iron. Calcium can be taken in through dairy products and also through foods such as salmon, beans, and tofu. Dairy products are helpful in getting nutrients such as phosphorous, riboflavin, Vitamin A, and Vitamin D.

[NOTE: Women in their reproductive years should know that the excessive use of vitamin A shortly before and during pregnancy could be harmful to their babies. 1,000 RE=5,000 international units (IU). More than 10,000 IU should be considered harmful.]

Although pregnancy requires additional nutrients, it doesn't require a drastic change in caloric intake. Remember, don't skip meals and keep saturated fats to a minimum.

Review Date: 12/9/2012
Reviewed By: Irina Burd, MD, PhD, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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