Nutritional guidelines and energy needs during pregnancy and lactation

Jacalyn J. Robert-McComb, Ángela G. González, Lesley Carraway

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


From a nutritional point of view, pregnancy and lactation are the most demanding physiological situations in a woman’s life. Requirements for all nutrients increase and optimal energy, and nutrient intake during pregnancy and lactation are basic for the actual and future health of both mother and child. Because successful pregnancy depends upon previous nutritional status of the mother, all women of childbearing age should be encouraged to consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within and among the basic food groups while choosing foods that limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol. Special attention must be paid to intake of micronutrients such as folic acid, vitamin D, iron, and iodine. A deficit in folic acid intake during the first 8 weeks of conception may lead to malformations (neural tube defects) which can be prevented by daily intake of 600 μg of folates from diet, supplements, or nutrient-enriched foods. Vitamin D deficiency among pregnant women can result from inadequate cutaneous synthesis, limited dietary intake of vitamin D, or vitamin D pathway impairment, and can lead to osteoporosis in the mother and/or rickets, hypocalcemia, delayed ossification, and abnormal enamel formation in the children as well as immune dysfunction. The DRI for vitamin D, during pregnancy and lactation, is 600 IU (15 μg)/day. There are not many natural foods rich in vita min D so, apart from cold water fish, fortified foods are the main sources of this vitamin. Iron and iodine are also problematical nutrients which deficiencies are prevalent during gestation and lactation and so the need for their supplementation must be carefully evaluated. About energy, during pregnancy, women should consume an additional 300 kcal per fetus; however, women who are active during their pregnancy may need extra calories for exercise, and ideally, this additional energy should come from added servings of carbohydrate because carbohydrate intake meets the growth needs of the fetus and provides energy for exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Active Female
Subtitle of host publicationHealth Issues Throughout the Lifespan, Second Edition
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781461488842
ISBN (Print)9781461488835
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Energy requirements during pregnancy
  • Folic acid
  • Iron and iodine intakes during pregnancy
  • Nutritional requirements during pregnancy
  • Vitamin D


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