During pregnancy the total caloric needs increase to supply energy for fetal development. A pregnant woman needs approximately 300 more calories per day than before she becomes pregnant. It may be a little less during the first trimester and a little more in the last. Woman carrying twins will need even more.

The extra 300 calories can come from an apple, half a cheese sandwich and a carrot stick. The best way to consume extra calories is healthy snacks eaten between meals.

Protein is a component of every body cell and important for building the maternal blood supply. Protein also is necessary for fetal hair, skin, muscle, nerve tissue and brain development. Women need approximately 10 more grams of protein daily - a total of 60 grams a day - during the pregnancy.

Minerals. Calcium and phosphorus are important minerals in fetal - bone development, a pregnant woman requires 1.200 mg of calcium and phosphorus daily. This is a 50 increase over what a woman needed before she became pregnant.

Dairy products are excellent sources of both calcium and phosphorus, as well as of vitamin D which is necessary for calcium absorption.

Zinc is another mineral needed for fetal growth and development. Good food sources of zinc include meat, liver, eggs, seafood.

Iron builds maternal blood volume and fetal blood and muscle. Many women enter pregnancy with low iron stores, resulting in anemia. Foods rich in iron include red meat, especially liver, raisins and fortified breads and cereals.

Vitamins. Folic acid is a vitamin important in protein metabolism, particularly in periods of rapid growth. Pregnant women should start the day with a good breakfast. Fortified ready-to eat cereal with milk and a glass of orange juice will provide at least half needs. Green leafy vegetables, liver and lentils are other good sources of folic acid.

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