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Healthy diet during pregnancy: how much extra do you need?

A healthy diet during pregnancy should be designed for giving your baby all that she needs to grow well inside you, however the old wisdom of eating for two is not strictly true! You do need extra calories but more importantly you need more proteins, vitamins and minerals during pregnancy. See the table below to get an idea about exactly how much more of these nutrients are needed to ensure a balanced diet while pregnant

The following table will tell you how much extra food and which nutrients you need to eat more of. It will also explain what you need to add to your usual diet to ensure that you get these nutrients

Food guide for pregnant women: Additional dietary requirements of calories and protein in pregnancy/day

 in 1st trimester  in 2nd trimester  in 3rd trimester


70-85 230-280 390-470


0.5 grams 6.9 grams 22.7 grams

Extra food you should eat to meet these demands

  • Nothing, if you were taking balanced diet before
  • One extra glass of milk and
  • 1 portion of nuts (30 almonds, 50 pistachios, 50 ground nuts, 18-20 cashew nuts, 8 walnuts halves or ~ 28-30 grams in weight)
1 extra glass of milk

One portion of nuts

½ cup (100 ml) extra of thick dal or 2 match box size pieces of meat/fish or

¼ block tofu or 1 egg


Essential fatty acids :

Consume Omega 3 fatty acids liberally

Eat fish at least to times a week (but careful of lead content of fidh)

Vegetarians should eat more of walnuts, mustard seeds, methi seeds or use mustard, canola or soybean oil

Eat fish at least to times a week

Vegetarians should eat more of walnuts, mustard seeds, methi seeds or use mustard, canola or soybean oil

Minerals and vitamins

Additional requirement

How to get this fulfilled

Iron Higher by 66% You will need Iron supplements  from second trimester onwards
Calcium Double Calcium (along with vitamin D) supplements are advised in pregnant women
Iodine Higher by 33% Iodised salt should be taken in pregnancy

Salt restriction is to be avoided


Folic acid 2.5 times Supplements needed early in pregnancy
Vitamin A Higher by 33% Green leafy vegetables, carrots, non vegetarians can get from egg

If you are advised vitamin A supplement, make sure to take carotenoid forms and not retinol form


Vitamin D Same, but Indian women often have pre-existing deficiencies, which needs to be taken care of Along with calcium supplementation is advised
Other vitamins Vitamins of B complex, vitamin C, E needs are higher by 20-50% Needs can be met by increased intake of green leafy and red-orange vegetables, eggs and  meat or supplements can be considered

Which supplements do you need to take during pregnancy

1. Folic acid: 400 mcg/day from pre-conception through 1st trimester of pregnancy

Women planning to get pregnant should take 400 mcg folic acid supplements every day for three months and should continue it during  pregnancy, discuss with your doctor

Some women, e.g. diabetics or those who have had babies with some birth defects previously may need more,  discuss with your doctor

2. Iron (60 mg elemental)+ folic acid 200 mcg capsules (may contain zinc etc.), two capsules a day from 2nd trimester onwards for at least 100 days, typically through pregnancy and even three months after that

Indian RCH guideline says that pregnant women should get atleast 100 days of 100 mg iron supplements for women with no anaemia

For women having anaemia more supplementation is needed, discuss with your doctor

3. Multivitamin capsule- once a day containing vitamin A, B complex, C in dosage near RDA

4. Calcium+vitamin D (500 mg+ 200 IU) twice a day from second trimester onwards, typically through pregnancy and even three months after that

5. Some women may need vitamin B12 supplements: for example,vegetarians with inadequate milk intake. Discuss with your doctor

Get the ‘FWI Diet Plan for Pregnant Women’ now!

CHECK OUT: Our references for care during pregnancy