We are working on a medical update to Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn. We are reviewing current maternity care trends and updated recommendations. I will post key changes here. Here’s what’s new in recommendations for nutrition during pregnancy:
Calcium: Past recommendations were 1200 mg/day for pregnant women. New recommendations (as of 2010) are: 1000 milligrams of calcium each day (1300 if you are under 18 years old) for non-pregnant, pregnant, and lactating women. Source: IOM.
Vitamin D: in 2010, many doctors were testing vitamin D levels, and prescribing supplements based on the result of the testing. However, there was lack of consensus on what levels were adequate and what were considered deficiencies. New recommendations are to skip the testing, but recommend supplementation for all. Non-pregnant, 400 IU per day. During pregnancy, women should take 600 IU (equal to 15 micrograms). This is more than she would likely get from supplemented foods (a cup of milk typically has 100 IU) so supplements are often needed.Some research indicates that 4000 IU is beneficial but that is not yet the recommendation. Breastfed babies should be given 400 IU daily, or up to 800 IU in winter/northern climates. Sources: Institute of Medicine, Canadian Paediatric Society
Vitamin D3 supplements are more effective, and should be used by most. Vegans may choose vitamin D2, since D3 is animal-based.
Iodine: In the past, women got the required iodine through intake of table salt, which is iodized. As consumption of processed foods has increased, most of their salt consumption is from processed foods, whose salt is not often iodized. One third of women may be deficient, which can cause hypothyroidism, which harms baby’s cognitive development, ad makes mother and baby more vulnerable to environmental pollutants. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should take in 290 – 1100 micrograms per day, and a good way to ensure that is a daily supplement of 150 micrograms. (Source.)
Saturated Fat and Dairy: The views have changed significantly over recent years. A major review concluded: “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of [coronary heart disease, stroke, or cardiovascular disease],” Source. Also, people who eat high fat dairy, butter and cheese seem to be less likely to be obese than those who stick strictly to non-fat dairy. Source. Possible reasons: higher satiety after eating high-fat foods may mean they eat less total calories, and/or many non-fat products are supplemented with added sugars to boost the taste. Organic whole-milk dairy foods may be a better choice in pregnancy than low-fat.
Stevia: Stevia is a natural sweetener and sugar substitute. The FDA has approved the purified form, stevioside and rebaudioside A (aka Rebiana) found in products like Truvia and Pepsi True. However, whole stevia leaves and stevia extracts have not been tested and approved for safety.