Important Nutrients for Pregnancy

Pregnant mom sitting and holding her belly

There are many important nutrients for pregnancy that are essential for you and your baby’s health. Because of this, it’s important to take a prenatal vitamin and eat a wide variety of food. As a result, this allows you to get all of the important nutrients for pregnancy. Read on to learn more about important nutrients for pregnancy.


Important Nutrients for Pregnancy

Some important nutrients for pregnancy include (1,2,3):


    • Protein 
    • Carbohydrates
    • Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Micronutrients (Minerals): 

    • Folate
    • Iron 
    • Choline

Micronutrients (Vitamins): 

    • Vitamin A
    • Vitamin B12
    • Vitamin D


Role of Important Nutrients During Pregnancy

Macronutrients (1, 2, 3, 4):


During pregnancy, you require more protein. This is because protein is needed for building your baby’s bones, muscles, tissues and ligaments. Also, protein helps with your baby’s growth and development.

Food Sources of Protein: 

    • Nut butter 
    • Legumes, beans, & lentils 
    • Poultry, meat, & fish 
    • Eggs
    • Dairy products


Carbohydrates are the most important sources of energy during pregnancy. Because of this, you should aim to eat a variety of carbohydrates each day. Eating carbohydrates provides you with energy to support your baby’s growth and development.

Food Sources of Carbohydrates: 

    • Whole grain bread
    • Rice 
    • Fruit 
    • Vegetables 
    • Cereals

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Consuming omega-3’s during pregnancy helps with healthy brain and eye development for your baby.

Food Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 

    • Flaxseed
    • Salmon 
    • Walnuts 
    • Trout
    • Omega-3 fortified eggs


Micronutrients – Minerals (1, 2, 3, 4):


Folate, or its synthetic form folic acid, is a key nutrient during pregnancy. It is needed for the development of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. Therefore, it is important to consume folate during pregnancy to prevent birth defects. In addition, folate is an needed to make blood cells. For more information about folate and folic acid during pregnancy, check out our previous blog post: Folic Acid Requirement for Pregnancy.

Food Sources of Folate: 

    • Enriched breads & grain products 
    • Fruit
    • Vegetables 
    • Beans 
    • Enriched cereals


Iron needs increase during pregnancy. This is because iron is used to make red blood cells to carry oxygen to your baby. It is important to consume enough iron during pregnancy to prevent preterm birth and low birth weight. For more information about iron during pregnancy, refer to our blog post: Meeting Your Iron Need During Pregnancy.

Food Sources of Iron: 

    • Beef & poultry 
    • Tofu 
    • Legumes, beans, & lentils 
    • Eggs
    • Nut butter 


Choline requirements increase during pregnancy. This is because it helps with your baby’s brain and memory development. It is also important for your liver and placenta. To learn more about choline, head to our blog post: Choline Requirements During Pregnancy and Lactation.

Food Sources of Choline: 

    • Broccoli 
    • Kidney beans 
    • Cow’s milk 
    • Beef & chicken 
    • Spinach


Micronutrients – Vitamins (1, 2, 3, 4):

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is an important nutrient for pregnancy – it assists in your baby’s heart, eye, and immune system development. It is important to consume more Provitamin A than Preformed Vitamin A. This is because too much Preformed Vitamin A can cause birth defects. For more information about vitamin A during pregnancy, head to our blog post: Vitamin A During Pregnancy. 

Food Sources of Vitamin A: 

    • Cantaloupe 
    • Carrots
    • Sweet potatoes 
    • Dark leafy greens
    • Milk

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important for the development and function of your baby’s brain. It is also important for red blood cell formation. 

Food Sources of Vitamin B12: 

    • Meat 
    • Fish 
    • Milk 
    • Eggs 
    • Fortified plant-based beverages

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an important nutrient during pregnancy and beyond. This is due to the fact that it helps absorb calcium, and in turn it helps to build strong bones and teeth. Unfortunately, Vitamin D is not found in many foods. Therefore, a Vitamin D supplement is usually recommended. 

Food Sources of Vitamin D: 

    • Cow’s milk 
    • Salmon 
    • Fortified plant-based beverages 
    • Eggs
    • Anchovies


Final Notes from The Nest

As you can see, there are many important nutrients for pregnancy. To consume all of these nutrients, it is important to take a prenatal vitamin and eat a wide variety of foods. For more specific nutrient recommendations during pregnancy, book a call with one of the Registered Dietitian’s at The Nest. 

~Article Written by Hailey Belaire

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  1. Health Canada. Prenatal nutrition guidelines for Health Professionals – Background on Canada’s Food Guide [Internet]. Ottawa: Government of Canada. 2010 [cited 2021 Nov 21]. 7 p. Available from:
  2. Alberta Health Services. Nutrition guidelines for pregnancy [Internet]. Alberta: Alberta Health Services. 2019 [cited 2021 Nov 21]. 54 p. Available from:
  3. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Rochester: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; c2021 [updated 2019 Dec 19; cited 2021 Nov 21]. Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients; [about 3 screens]. Available from:
  4. Kids Health [Internet]. Delaware: The Nemours Foundation; c2021 [updated 2020; cited 2021 Nov 21]. Pregnant or breastfeeding? Nutrients you need; [about 2 screens]. Available from: