Proteins during Pregnancy: Importance, Deficiency Impact, Foods

Protein during your pregnancy period is one of the most important nutrients and more so in the second and third trimester when your baby’s growth is the fastest.

A proper intake of proteins by the pregnant mother-to-be is a must for a champion baby and a healthy pregnancy.

Why are proteins important during pregnancy?

The need for proteins is emphasized by the following functions they perform during your pregnant period.

  • for proper development of body cells of the fetus
  • for the production of the blood of the fetus
  • for proper growth and functioning of the placenta and
  • for the proper growth and the functioning of the baby’s amniotic tissues.

Impact of protein deficiency in pregnancy

Improper protein intake during pregnancy can lead to a low weight baby and also hamper the growth of the baby’s brain.

In the mother-to-be, protein deficiency causes weight loss, muscle fatigue, frequent infections and fluid retention, which is seen as swelling of feet, ankles, and hands.

How much protein is required during pregnancy?

The total daily recommended allowance (RDA) of proteins for an adult non-pregnant woman is 46 grams. During pregnancy, this additional protein requirement rises by 15 grams to 60 grams daily.

Vitamin B6 is also essential in order that the proteins be properly utilized by the body.

Your protein requirement is supplied by the following foods.

Protein rich foods

Meat

Meat is a good source of proteins, which contains all the required amino acids. Sources include beef, lamb, chicken breast, duck, turkey, veal, and pork.

Choose lean meat and avoid fatty meat portions. About 3 oz of these meat servings will supply you with half your daily requirement (about 20 to 25 grams proteins).

Seafood

Seafood such as wild salmon, trout, shrimp, lobster meat, tilapia, crab meat, and clams are a good source of proteins. About 3 oz will again supply you with half your daily requirement.

It is important to note here that Mercury is a contaminant, which is found in certain fish and this is detrimental to the development of the brain and nervous system. Avoid fish such as swordfish, shark, marlin, tilefish and king mackerel because of their mercury content.

Dairy products 

Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, and paneer are the best source of proteins and should be taken daily. Four servings should fulfill your daily requirement.

Milk products also contain calcium, which is necessary for proper development of the bones of the baby. Low-fat milk and its products are advisable.

Eggs

Eggs are also a good source of proteins and also contain fats, vitamins (A, D and B) and minerals (zinc and selenium). Do not eat raw or soft boiled eggs. One egg a day should be enough.

Nuts

Nuts are a good source of proteins.  Such nuts rich include peanuts, cashew nuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, and coconut.

Seeds 

Seeds containing a good amount of proteins include sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds.

Beans and legumes 

Mung bean (green gram), kidney, navy, black and fava beans, lentils, split peas, chicken peas, Great Northern, soy beans and soy bean products such as soy milk, curd and miso are a great source of proteins to supplement your pregnancy diet.

Oats

Oat is one grain, which contains a good amount of proteins. One cup of oats daily will be a good contribution.  If you cannot have it solo, you could have it with muffins or pancakes. One cup of oats daily will be a sufficient contribution.

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