08.29.22 4 min read

Superfoods for a Super Pregnancy

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Like it or not, you’re now a walking food truck with a live-in customer. Whatever you take in, your baby will take in, as well. Strong prenatal nutrition is not only important for ensuring a healthy pregnancy (from regulated weight gain to regular digestion) but also, just as importantly, for baby’s growth and development. We’ve pulled together a list of the top vitamins and nutrients for pregnancy using guides from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the Mayo Clinic and the National Institute for Health (NIH). We’ve also broken it down trimester by trimester so you know what to focus on and when.

TOP 10 VITAMINS/NUTRIENTS FOR PREGNANCY

Calcium helps develop strong bones and teeth.

Where you can get it: All dairy products as well as dark green, leafy vegetables

Recipe ideas: Smoothies are a great option for getting calcium. Add kale or spinach to a smoothie with yogurt and antioxidant rich berries.


Iron helps red blood cells deliver oxygen to the baby.

Where you can get it: Lean meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs

Recipe ideas: Adding animal protein to any meal is a great way to boost iron. Eggs with avocado toast, grilled chicken on a salad or baked salmon for dinner.


Choline supports fetal brain and spinal cord development.

Where you can get it: Milk, beef, liver, eggs, peanuts and sweet potatoes

Recipe ideas: Broil thin slices of sweet potato into “bread” and put an egg on it!


Vitamin A promotes healthy skin and eyesight.

Where you can get it: You guessed it, carrots! Along with more green, leafy vegetables and sweet potatoes

Recipe ideas: Slice up raw veggies like carrots, bell peppers, zucchini and to have on hand for a quick snack.


Vitamin C supports healthy gums, teeth and bones.

Where you can get it: On top of brushing and flossing for you (SUPER important to stay on top of your oral health in pregnancy), you want to munch on citrus fruits, broccoli, tomatoes and strawberries.

Recipe ideas: Hit up the summer farmer’s market or go berry picking to get some light exercise while getting in those nutrients! If it’s winter, don’t judge a frozen fruit; their nutrients are well preserved in their icy state.


Vitamin D supports strong development of bones and teeth, as well as healthy eyesight and skin.

Where you can get it: Beef, liver, pork, ham, whole-grains, bananas

Recipe ideas: Sliced banana on whole grain toast with peanut butter checks off Vitamin D and Choline.


Vitamin B12 maintains nervous system and helps form red blood cells.

Where you can get it: Meat, fish, poultry, and milk.

Recipe ideas: Steer clear of fish high in mercury (bigeye tuna, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish). Limit white (albacore) tuna to 6oz/week.


Folic acid prevents birth defects of brain and spine while also supporting general growth of fetus and placenta.

Where you can get it: Fortified cereals, dark green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, dried beans, peas and lentils.

Recipe ideas: Overnight oats with a half grapefruit on the side.


Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain development before and after birth.

Where you can get it: Flaxseed, fish, broccoli, cantaloupe, kidney beans, spinach, cauliflower and walnuts

Recipe ideas: Flaxseeds can be added to an overnight oats recipe for an easy boost of omega-3 on a daily basis!


Water aids in digestion, helps form the amniotic fluid around the baby and helps nutrients citculate

Where you can get it: Water (duh) but also watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, cucumber lettuce and broths and soups

Recipe ideas: Try to drink 8-12 cups of water a day, increasing when you’re in extreme weather or overexerting yourself. Staying hydrated ensures you and your baby are getting all of these awesome nutrients circulated throughout your bodies!

1st TRIMESTER

For the start of pregnancy, the most important vitamin to focus on is folate (folic acid in its synthetic form). Folate helps prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine (reducing conditions like spina bifida by a whopping 70 percent) while supporting general growth and development of the fetus and placenta. Key sources of folate are fortified cereals, dark green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, dried beans, peas and lentils.

Now, if you’re anything like me in the first trimester, the thought of a plate full of dark, green vegetables and lentils is immediately gag-inducing. If you’re only able to stomach bagels and more bagels (just me?), don’t panic. The most important thing you can do during pregnancy is take a quality prenatal vitamin which should come packed with folic acid that is actually more easily absorbed than folate found naturally.

2nd TRIMESTER

The top focus in the 2nd trimester is Iron. Your body is starting to produce a heavy amount of new blood – an increase of 40-50% – to support your baby’s development. And Iron’s best friend is Vitamin C, which helps the body absorb that Iron. Focus on pairing Iron-rich foods like eggs, salmon, and quinoa with Vitamin-C rich foods like citrus, kale, bell pepper, broccoli and strawberries. Try a dinner of stir-fried kale and broccoli over quinoa with baked salmon and, for dessert, fresh strawberries with whipped cream. Delish!

3rd TRIMESTER

Your baby’s growth kicks into high gear in the 3rd trimester – at week 36, babies start gaining about half a pound and growing half an inch a week! As this rapidly expanding babe starts to kick you even more powerfully in the gut, it’s important for you to focus on the growth of those arm and leg bones with Calcium and Vitamin D. Focus on fatty fishes like salmon (always a powerhouse), broccoli, almonds, yogurt and eggs.

Parting Note

At Zaya, we are all about everything in moderation. Yes, you can have donuts and pizza, but make sure you’re balancing the scales with some fresh berries, raw veggies and high-quality protein sources. And you don’t have to go it alone – schedule a prenatal nutrition appointment with one of our Dietitians. They can help you fill in the gaps in your nutrition, recommend pantry staples to keep in stock as well as draw up easy to follow meal plans.