Is It Unhealthy to Drink Orange Juice While Pregnant?
During those 40 or so weeks of your pregnancy, your body is doing some pretty amazing things. Your oxygen intake is increasing, your blood volume is doubling and your belly is expanding as the baby in your uterus grows. What you eat before, during and after pregnancy affects both you and your baby. Drinking orange juice while pregnant offers many beneficial nutrients that support good health for both of you.
No. Orange juice isn't unhealthy to drink during pregnancy. Adding orange juice to your daily meal plan can help you get essential vitamins and minerals your body needs at this time.
Orange Juice Nutrition
When it comes to fruit and health, you really can’t go wrong. While most health care professionals agree that the whole fruit makes the best choice, 100-percent fruit juice comes in at a close second, especially nutrient-rich juices like orange juice.
A 1-cup serving of orange juice contains:
- 110 calories
- 2 grams of protein
- 26 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.5 gram of fiber
One cup of orange juice also meets more than 10 percent of the daily value (DV) for potassium, copper, vitamin C, folate and vitamin A. And if you opt for the orange juice with added calcium, one cup provides nearly 30 percent of the DV.
Read more: Orange Juice and Fetal Movement
Orange Juice While Pregnant
Expectant moms need to eat a variety of foods from all the food groups, including the fruit group. While your specific diet needs depend on many factors, such as your pre-pregnancy weight, activity level and overall health, most pregnant women should include about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of fruit a day. One serving of fruit is equal to 1 cup of whole fruit or 1 cup of 100-percent fruit juice, which means orange juice fits the bill.
But enjoying orange juice while pregnant does more than just help you meet your daily fruit needs; it also supplies some of the nutrients your body needs to support a healthy pregnancy.
Folate is a member of the B group of vitamins and is essential for the formation of DNA. During pregnancy, an adequate intake of folate is necessary for the prevention of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. You need 600 micrograms of folate a day, which is 200 micrograms more than when you’re not pregnant.
One cup of orange juice provides 47 to 74 micrograms of this necessary nutrient. The calcium-fortified orange juice isn’t as good a source as the regular version, but can still help you get closer to your daily needs.
It’s no secret that orange juice is an important source of vitamin C. One cup provides 84 to 124 milligrams of the vital nutrient, with less in the calcium-fortified juice. You need vitamin C to support the synthesis of connective tissue and to protect your cells against damage from free radicals.
While vitamin C is important for your health and your baby’s, it also helps you absorb iron. As previously mentioned, your blood volume increases during pregnancy, which is to help deliver oxygen to your growing baby. Iron is essential for blood building, and your daily needs during pregnancy increase by about 50 percent.
Iron is found in a wide variety of foods, including meats, poultry, beans, vegetables and grains. But your body has a tougher time absorbing iron from those nonmeat sources. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron and may help you get more of the essential nutrient from the food you eat.
So, you can enjoy a glass of orange juice while pregnant to help you absorb more iron from your bowl of oatmeal at breakfast, your bean burrito at lunch, or your spinach lasagna at dinner.
All women need to get enough calcium in their diets to support healthy bones and teeth. During pregnancy, you need 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Milk for pregnant women is often recommended to help you meet your daily calcium needs to support bone health.
If you can’t tolerate milk or it’s just not your thing, you can meet some of your daily calcium needs from calcium-fortified orange juice. One cup of fortified orange juice contains 348 milligrams. As previously noted, calcium-fortified orange juice may not be as good a source of folate or vitamin C, so it’s something you want to keep in mind when planning your pregnancy diet.
Read more: Pregnancy Diet for the Third Trimester
Apple Juice During Pregnancy
You may think, “Well if orange juice is OK, then apple juice during pregnancy should be too.” Well, not so fast. Yes, 100 percent apple juice certainly meets the fruit criteria as recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But apple juice during pregnancy doesn’t offer nearly the same benefits as orange juice.
A 1-cup serving of apple juice contains:
- 115 calories
- 28 grams of carbs
- 0.5 gram of fiber
And, unlike orange juice, apple juice contains less than 1 gram of protein and doesn’t provide more than 10 percent of the DV for any vitamin or mineral. According to David Klurfield, Ph.D., a human nutrition researcher at the USDA, apple juice isn’t all that different from soda nutritionally. Apple juice during pregnancy provides calories, but doesn’t offer any nutritional value for you or your baby.
Milk for Pregnant Women
When you hit the second and third trimesters of your pregnancy, your calorie needs increase from about 340 to 500 calories a day. Those extra calories don’t mean you get to eat an extra pint of premium ice cream. You should spend those extra calories on nutrient-rich foods that support your health and your baby's.
Milk provides many of the nutrients your body needs during pregnancy. One cup of skim milk contains:
- 85 calories
- 12 grams of carbohydrates
- 8 grams of protein
That one cup of skim milk also provides more than 10 percent of the DV for calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin D, riboflavin and pantothenic acid.
Your protein needs during pregnancy increase to support the growth of your baby from 46 grams a day to about 70 grams a day. Drinking milk while pregnant provides some of that extra protein. It also helps you get your daily calcium and vitamin D to support bone health.
Read more: Drinking Whole Milk During Pregnancy
In addition to your growing blood volume and belly, your immune system takes a bit of a hit during pregnancy, which means you’re more susceptible to infections, including foodborne infections. Drinking orange juice while pregnant makes a healthy addition to your diet as long as you’re drinking juice that’s been pasteurized.
Unpasteurized orange juice, or any other unpasteurized juice for that matter, could potentially contain harmful bacteria that may affect your health or the health of your baby.
If you suffer from heartburn or reflux during pregnancy, you may find the acidity of orange juice irritating and may want to consider other fruits and vegetables to help your body get the nutrition it needs for good health.
Read more: Does Pasteurized Juice Have Nutrients?
- International Food Information Council Foundation: Healthy Eating During Pregnancy
- MyFoodData: Orange Juice, Calcium-Fortified Orange Juice, Apple Juice, Skim Milk
- Nestle: What Should I Drink When Pregnant
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Making Healthy Choices in Each Food Group
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: 2200 Calorie Meal Plan
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: 3200 Calorie Meal Plan
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: All About the Fruit Group
- Food & Nutrition: Is Fruit Juice Just Another Sugary Drink?
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin C
- NIH Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- FoodSafety.gov: Food Safety for Pregnant Women
- Stanford Children's Health: Pregnancy and Heartburn