Nutrition Tips for Vegetarian/Vegan Expecting Moms
February 21, 2018
It’s estimated that between 5 million and 8 million people in the United States follow a vegetarian diet.1 About half of those individuals are vegan, and the majority are women.1 While there are many benefits to becoming vegetarian or vegan, these lifestyles can make it challenging for pregnant women to meet certain nutritional recommendations. Eating specific nutrient-rich foods can help. If nutritional gaps remain, adding a daily prenatal vitamin with iron and other essential vitamins is an excellent way to meet dietary recommendations.
Key Nutrients for Vegetarian/Vegan Pregnancy Diet
Aside from having limited options to choose from when dining out, a vegetarian or vegan diet may leave expecting moms susceptible to nutritional deficiencies. Below are common nutritional deficiencies from a vegetarian diet that are important to address during pregnancy.
Aim for 18 mg of iron daily during pregnancy.2 By meeting recommended iron intake, you may help prevent iron-deficiency anemia, premature birth and low birth weight of your baby.3-8 It’s important to eat plenty of green leafy vegetables, such as kale or spinach, to reach recommended iron levels during pregnancy. Lentils, peas and whole grains such as barley or quinoa are also good sources of iron. By adding foods rich in vitamin C, you may boost iron absorption and get the most out of what you consume.9,10
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
By incorporating Omega-3s into your diet, you may improve your baby’s length of gestation, birth weight, cognitive development and sleep patterns.11,12 Food sources that include Omega-3’s and fit a vegetarian and vegan diet include chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts.
Aim for 400 IU of vitamin D daily during pregnancy.2 By incorporating vitamin D into your diet, you may promote your baby’s bone growth and calcium absorption, and may improve his or her skeletal and neurological development.13-17
Aim to consume 8 mcg of vitamin B12 daily during pregnancy.2 Vitamin B12 is necessary to create red blood cells, which transport oxygen to you and your baby’s organs and tissues.18 While vitamin B12 is mostly found in meat-related sources, there are some foods that are fortified with it. It’s a good idea to consider supplementing vitamin B12 if you are following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Overcoming Nutritional Deficiency From Vegetarian/Vegan Diet
A daily prenatal vitamin is recommended for all pregnant women, and especially for those who suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Prenatal vitamins, like the Prenate® Vitamin Family, can supply moms with the nutrients they may not be able to obtain from their diets alone.
As a supporter of successful pregnancy outcomes, we encourage patients to talk to their healthcare providers about the different nutrient forms and options for their specific needs. Keep in mind that not all forms of iron, folic acid or other nutrients are created equally. Talk to your doctor to see if the Prenate® Vitamin Family’s prenatal vitamins are right for you.