A Vegetarian Diet During Pregnancy

If you are a vegetarian, there is no reason not to continue following your diet during pregnancy. As with any pregnancy diet, you should make sure that you are consuming enough of all of the required nutrients and enough calories to support your growing baby. Depending on the type of vegetarian diet you follow, you may need to make a few adjustments to ensure that the baby is getting everything required for normal development.

Some of the challenges to vegetarians can be getting enough protein, calcium, iron and vitamin D. It is possible to obtain most of these through a vegetarian diet, but during your pregnancy you will have to be even more vigilant to ensure that you are ingesting adequate amounts.

Getting Enough Protein

If you have been following a vegetarian diet for some time, you have probably already adjusted your intake to provide good sources of protein. Include nuts, soy products, legumes and tofu in your diet. Contrary to previous recommendations, the AAP no longer recommends against eating peanut butter during pregnancy to avoid allergies. New evidence indicates this is safe, and vegetarians can use peanut butter as a good source of protein during pregnancy.

Calcium and Vitamin D

If you follow the strictest of vegetarian diets, veganism, then getting calcium and vitamin D from milk and other dairy products are not an option for you. Look for orange juices fortified with both, as well as other foods that may have these two vital nutrients added. Calcium can but obtained through a number of foods other than dairy, such as spinach and broccoli, but vitamin D is needed to help your body use the calcium. Vitamin D can be obtained via sun exposure, but use caution. Your skin may be more sensitive to the sun during pregnancy due to elevated levels of estrogen. You may need a supplement to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D.

Iron and the Vegetarian Diet

Getting enough iron during pregnancy is vital to both your health and that of your baby. If you don’t plan to eat any meat to provide iron, you should be sure to include other iron rich foods in your diet. Look to leafy greens, peanuts, beans, peas and iron fortified foods. You may need an iron supplement during your pregnancy if your doctor finds your levels to be too low during a routine test.

Other Important Foods to Include

Some vegetarian diets include fish, an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. If you do not consume fish, look for these important fatty acids in other sources such as almond and olive oil. Because it can be hard to get enough of this vital nutrient without fish, you might consider taking a supplement. Another important vitamin that might be lacking in a vegetarian diet is Vitamin B12. Because it is mostly found in animal products, you should take a supplement to make sure you get enough.

As with any diet, you should use caution during pregnancy to make sure that you are getting the right number of calories. After the first trimester, you will require additional calories to help your baby grow. Use caution, however, as consuming too many calories can lead to excess weight gain and other problems. Eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods to make sure you get all the vitamins you need.

If you have concerns about your vegetarian diet during your pregnancy, talk to your doctor to help determine whether or not you need supplements.

Leave a Reply