What should I eat in the second trimester?

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March 14, 2016
second trimester nutrition, pregnancy naturopath, toronto naturopath

Generally throughout the three trimesters, many nutrition recommendations remain the same. But some might increase, like your protein or calcium intake. Because there are certain conditions that are more common in the second trimester, here are the nutrients that are especially important during weeks 13-28!


Canadian recommended dietary intake: 1000 mg

Best form: Calcium carbonate

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body because of your teeth and bones! As your baby’s skeletal growth begins, it’ll start to tap into your muscle stores. This may lead to leg cramps, that often happen at night. 

Calcium is also helpful in reducing pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure, high protein in urine, swollen hands/legs/feet). If you have preeclampsia, you might also experience headaches, blurred vision, and pain in your upper right quadrant. Calcium may also reduce preterm birth. 

Absorption typically doubles in the second trimester, but the requirements stay the same (as if you’re not pregnant). You can take calcium at night, and also pair it with magnesium. 


Canadian recommended dietary intake: 27 mg

Best form: Iron bisglycinate

Iron is the most common nutritional deficiency in women! Do you know why? Periods! Yes, you’re taking a break from your period right now, but it’s likely that before you got pregnant your stores were low. It’s necessary to have your levels tested because your baby will use your iron for itself – which may leave you even more deficient. A telltale sign of low iron is cravings for ice!

Your blood volume begins to increase during this trimester, and so you need more hemoglobin to transport oxygen (and therefore need more iron). A couple of signs of iron deficiency anemia are: paleness, fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath. 

If you have yet to have your iron tested, be sure to do so this trimester. Not only may it prevent pre-term delivery, low birth weight, and developmental delays, it may also play a role in preventing postpartum depression.

TO DO: Get your ferritin levels tested (and make sure your levels are optimal, not normal)

PRO TIP: Vitamin C helps with iron absorption


Canadian recommended dietary intake: 350 mg

Best form: Magnesium bisglycinate

This is one of my favourite minerals! Not only is it mostly found in bone and soft tissues, it’s needed for over 300 reactions in the body (including energy production).In pregnancy, magnesium is important for hypertension, preventing pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and leg cramps.

Magnesium is involved in brain cell activity, electrical properties of cell membranes, and heart cell function. It also helps to relax muscles, especially when they’re cramping. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include insomnia, muscle cramps or twitches, headaches and heart palpitations. 


Canadian recommended dietary intake: 60 ug

Preferred form: Selenomethionine

Selenium acts as an antioxidant and helps with thyroid metabolism. Postpartum thyroiditis is a condition that may happen after pregnancy, so it may be beneficial to make sure you’re getting enough selenium before you give birth. Selenium helps to decrease inflammation associated with the thyroid and its antibodies. 

There is an upper limit to how much selenium you can take per day, so be sure to consult with your doctor. 

EAT THIS: Eggs, poultry, seafood and other muscle meats

Next Steps

If you’re experiencing any of these conditions or symptoms, contact a Naturopathic Doctor for a holistic approach! 

Before You Go

First Trimester Nutrition

Third Trimester Nutrition

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