Here’s what you should know about RDA during pregnancy
Like all other aspects of life, balance is the key to success and happiness during pregnancy too. While it is necessary to consume all the important macro and micronutrients when you are expecting, it is also mandatory to keep an eye on the intake amounts. Here is where Recommended Dietary Allowance, or RDA, steps in, to make your task easy. RDA basically refers to the amount of calories or nutrients you should consume every day for your overall wellbeing as well as the growth and development of the foetus. A lower than recommended amount can lead to deficiencies, while a higher amount can negatively impact the absorption of other nutrients.
More about Recommended Dietary Allowance
Pregnant mothers need enough nutrients to help nurture the growing baby. The health of the newborn depends on the nutritional status of the mother prior to conception and during pregnancy. Thus, a woman who has consumed a well-balanced and healthy diet throughout her life enters the phase of pregnancy with a reserve of several nutrients that support the needs of the growing baby. And she will be able to nourish her baby without depriving herself or harming her own health.
A mother’s diet during pregnancy has a direct impact on the size and health of the newborn. This is the reason why mothers who eat nutritionally inadequate meals give birth to low birth weight (LBW) babies, and may suffer from pregnancy-related complications.
A malnourished mother can become weaker while providing nutrients to the baby, since her own nutrient stores get depleted. Also, a diet lacking in vital nutrients during pregnancy, can not only affect the health of the baby during early infancy, but also determine his or her health status as an adult. Nutrients during pregnancy genetically program the child’s predisposition to certain lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.
Thus, it is very important for mothers to understand what RDA is and how to make sure that she consumes the right kind and quantity of food to meet the requirements.
Nutritional requirements during pregnancy
To have a healthy pregnancy, every expectant mother should educate herself about the major food groups and how to make wise choices about which foods to add to the diet and which ones to avoid.
It is very important to keep in mind that you must limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats. Foods like cheese, whole milk, soft drinks, namkeens, fatty meats, and deep-fried Indian snacks like samosas contain saturated fats and added sugars.
Recommended dietary allowance of various nutrients during pregnancy
During pregnancy, the energy demand of the body increases the most. It increases by about 350 Kcal per day. The table below lists the RDA of some other important nutrients:
|Calcium||1200 mg/day||Milk, paneer, dried fish, and sesame seeds|
|Protein||78g/day||Meat, egg white, cheese, khoya, skimmed milk, Bengal gram, red gram and lentils|
|Energy||3200kcal/day||Rice, wheat, tapioca, nuts and oilseeds such as almonds, cashew nuts, and dry ground nuts|
|Visible Fat||30g/day||Butter, sunflower oil, and corn oil|
|Iron||35mg/day||Amaranth, Bengal gram, Cauliflower, radish, and green leafy vegetables|
|Folic Acid||150mcg/day||Amaranth, aambath chukka, mint and spinach, gingelly and soybean|
Diet and feeding pattern during pregnancy
The basic meal planning principles for a pregnant woman is almost same as that for a normal adult. In the initial stages of pregnancy, the mother might suffer from morning sickness due to hormonal changes. To minimise the effect of morning sickness and nausea, pregnant women should consume smaller amounts of food more frequently. Solid carbohydrate-rich foods like biscuits, bread, or fruits can be had in the morning, to help relieve nausea.
To meet the increased nutritional requirements, expectant mothers should have healthy nutritious snacks in between the main meals, rather than three large meals throughout the day. Therefore, her feeding pattern should include 5-6 meals per day.
Also, during pregnancy, women often suffer from constipation. Therefore, you need to increase the intake of dietary fibre from fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and cereals, and whole pulses. Remember to drink plenty of water, coconut water, or unsweetened lassi, to ensure smooth bowel movements.
In India, pregnant women often receive too many advices about what and how much she should eat. However, by simply consulting a doctor or nutritionist, and being aware of the RDA for different nutrients, you can plan a healthy diet and give birth to a healthy baby.