It’s an interesting idea, who has the bigger nutrient needs: an average man OR a pregnant woman? Men are usually bigger than woman, carrying more fat and muscle that needs support, but pregnant women are in the process creating and nourishing human life. Considering the short time span the babies actually spend in the womb, compared to the rest of their lives, you would think pregnant woman and their nutrient needs trump men every time.
Have you ever wonder how much energy it takes through the entire nine months of pregnancy? Whether cruising through the happy medium of the second trimester or slugging through the very end, waiting for the big day, every day needs additional nutrients. If you feel like superwoman, you may be right! Can we declare a winner? Let’s find out.
The average man in the USA is 5 feet 10 inches weighing 180 pounds
The average woman is the USA is 5 feet 4.5 inches weighing 150 pounds
Men, women and children need a certain amount of calories to literally survive. Each person uses a varying amount of calories depending on their daily lives. A job that requires walking or excess movement may need more calories, while someone with a desk job will need less. The average man needs approximately 3,000 calories a day to maintain his muscle mass, organ function and energy expenditure. The average woman needs approximately 2,300 calories for daily living. A pregnant a woman needs to increase her calories daily, an extra 300 calories a day, although additional references suggest 0 extra calories in the 1st trimester, 340 extra calories in the 2nd trimester and 450 extra calories in the 3rd trimester. That’s a lot to take in for the average lady.
Nutrients: Men, Women, Pregnant Women (per day)
• Carbohydrates: 130 grams, 130 grams, 175 grams
• Protein: 56 grams, 46 grams, 66 grams
• Omega 3 Fatty Acids: 1.6 grams, 1.1 grams, 1.4 grams
• Water 3.7 liters, 2.7 liters, 3.2 liters
(lactation needs 3.8 liters of water per day)
Omega-3 Fatty Acid– an essential fatty acid, used to lower blood pressure and in nerve conduction
Vitamins; Men, Women, Pregnant Women (per day)
• Vitamin C: 90 mg, 75 mg, 85 mg
• Vitamin E: 15 mg, 15 mg, 15 mg
• Vitamin A: 900 micrograms, 700 micrograms, 770 micrograms
• Vitamin K: 120 micrograms, 90 micrograms, 90 micrograms
• Thiamin: 1.2 mg, 1.1 mg, 1.4 mg
• Riboflavin: 1.3 mg, 1.1 mg, 1.4 mg
• Niacin: 16 mg, 14 mg,, 18 mg
• Folate: 400 micrograms 400 micrograms, 600 micrograms
• Choline: 550 mg, 425 mg, 450 mg
Vitamin A– used for vision, cell growth, bone function and immunity
Vitamin E- used as an antioxidant
Vitamin K-used in blood clotting
Vitamin C– used as an antioxidant, synthesizes collagen, carnitine and norepinephrine
Thiamin– used as a coenzyme (in energy transformation for example) and nerve conductor
Riboflavin-used as a coenzyme (example, needed in neurotransmitters)
Niacin- used as a coenzyme (energy production)
Folate– used as a coenzyme (example nerve function and production) used in cell division
Choline-used as a coenzyme (example nerve function)
Minerals: Men, Women, Pregnant Women (per day)
• Calcium: 1200 mg, 1000 mg, 1200 mg
• Potassium: 4700 mg, 4700 mg, 4700 mg
• Iron: 8 mg, 18 mg, 27 mg
• Zinc: 11mg, 8 mg, 12mg
• Selenium: 55 micrograms, 55 micrograms, 60 micrograms
• Copper: 900 micrograms, 900 micro grams, 1000 micrograms
Calcium- used in bone structure, tooth structure, blood clotting, muscle contractions
Potassium– maintains the pH balance in body
*Iron– used in formation of red blood cells
*Selenium– used as an antioxidant
*Copper- helps store iron, makes collagen (* considered microminerals)
And the winner is…
Well, the results are in and it seems men need more nutrients than women, even when pregnant. But, there are quite a few discrepancies if you look closely at the lists of major nutrients, vitamins and minerals and rightfully so.
When pregnant there are milestones the baby reaches in the different trimesters. The 1st trimester has enormous brain and neurological development happening, is it any wonder a pregnant women needs massive amounts of folate, choline, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin? Throughout your pregnancy the baby is growing and growing, the heart beating and pumping blood through its body so iron, and its helper copper, are fundamental in adequate pregnancy amounts. Omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy are used to build brain and nerve structures and increased levels are encouraged throughout lactation and breastfeeding. Water needs, a simple yet essential nutrient, increase during pregnancy because it facilitates cell function and structure and during lactation due to its use in breast milk production.
Don’t feel badly ladies, if you think when pregnant we should be the winners, well we are! As a woman the responsibilities of safety, health and growth of the baby lie with us. Sometimes just taking your prenatal vitamin feels like an accomplishment when combined with morning sickness, toddlers and full time work. Most men are inherently bigger than woman and need increased nutrients to support organ function. Babies need their own nutrients to grow so remember to balance your ice cream cravings with healthy foods for ultimate winner; a healthy baby girl or boy.