Healthy Eating in Pregnancy

Congratulations, you’re expecting! Here are our top tips on the essential nutrients for pregnancy and foods to avoid for maintaining a healthy diet.


What nutrients do I need to include in my diet when I’m pregnant?

There are many essential nutrients that are important for your health and that of your baby when you are pregnant. Read below for the nutritional benefits and sources of each recommended nutrient.


Folic Acid:

400 micrograms of Folic Acid should be taken before, and throughout pregnancy. It is important for the prevention of neural tube defects and for a healthy immune system. Some women will require a higher dose which your doctor can prescribe.



  • Food sources of folic acid include green vegetables, fruit, nuts, meat, and fish.
  • You can also take a Folic Acid supplement which your local Allcare Pharmacist can recommend for you.


Your iron requirements will increase in pregnancy, as your baby grows, and your blood volume increases to supply more oxygen to your baby.



  • Food sources of iron include red meat, dark poultry, fish, eggs, lentils, beans, and crunchy greens.
  • Pregnancy multivitamins usually contain some iron, and your doctor or midwife may recommend an extra iron supplement if necessary. Speak to them if you are feeling very tired.


Yvonne’s top tips:

  • Avoid drinking tea with meals as it interferes with your absorption of iron.
  • Taking Vitamin C will help you to absorb iron.



Calcium is needed to grow a baby’s bones. Take three portions or more days during pregnancy.


Sources: Dairy products and alternatives with added calcium. Check out below which dairy products to avoid during pregnancy!


Vitamin D:

It is needed for the absorption of calcium and has also been linked to many other benefits. Vitamin D is particularly important if you have dark skin, or if you are pregnant during the winter. A daily supplement of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D is recommended.


Sources: 10 micrograms can be found in most pregnancy multivitamins.



Iodine is important for thyroid hormone balance. During pregnancy, you will need more iodine than usual.



  • Food sources include cow’s milk, yogurt, and whitefish.
  • A supplement containing 200 micrograms of iodine is an alternative and your local Allcare pharmacist can suggest the best one for you.



Protein is important for you and your growing baby – it is needed for the growth of the baby’s muscles, bones, and organs as well as the placenta.


Sources: Found in meat, chicken, fish, cheese, beans, lentils, nuts, eggs, and tofu. It is a vital nutrient for a growing baby and for you.


Yvonne’s top tips: Eat some protein at least twice a day, and more in the third trimester.



"Omega-3" is an essential fat that can help your baby’s brain and eye development.


Sources: The best source is oily fish - just one portion per week is recommended in pregnancy.


You should also ensure you include fruit, vegetables, bread, cereals, and potatoes in your diet.


Fruit & Vegetables:

Fruit and vegetables are full of vitamins and antioxidants which are vital for your growing baby. Try to eat 5 - 7 portions every day!


Bread, Cereals & Potatoes:

These are important for energy and fibre - most women will require 3 servings per day.


Yvonne’s top tip: Opt for wholegrain and wholemeal options!



What should I avoid during pregnancy?


Vitamin A:

Avoid consuming too much Vitamin A in pregnancy.

  • Avoid taking supplements that are not approved for pregnancy.
  • Liver and liver products such as pate should be avoided also.


Undercooked Foods:

Raw fish, raw meat, runny eggs, and undercooked chicken or turkey should all be avoided due to the risk of food poisoning which can be harmful to your baby.


High Mercury Foods:

Tuna should be limited to one tuna steak or two tins of tuna per week. Avoid shark, swordfish, and marlin.



Avoid alcohol during your pregnancy. There is no safe minimum intake.



Limit your intake of caffeine, opting for decaffeinated versions of drinks where possible. Have a maximum of two cups of coffee or three cups of tea daily.


Unpasteurised Dairy Products:

Avoid all unpasteurised dairy products, mold-ripened cheese (e.g. Brie, Stilton), and soft or raw eggs (e.g. in mousse).


Do you have any food hygiene tips?

  • Ensure that meat, fish, and poultry are cooked throughout before eating.
  • Avoid smoked fish and cured and smoked meats unless cooked in a dish.
  • Wash all raw ingredients such as fruit, vegetables, and salads well before eating.


Make sure to pop into your local Allcare Pharmacy for all your pregnancy needs, our pharmacists are here to provide you with recommendations specific to you!

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