You decided at some point in your life to change your habits and adopt a vegan diet. But once you found out you are pregnant, you begin wondering if is it safe to follow a vegan diet while pregnant.
A careful planning of a vegan diet when you are expecting is the ideal solution for things to go well during the whole 9 months.
The main question for pregnant women who choose to follow a vegetarian diet s whether their lifestyle can have serious consequences for the child. Rachele Dependahl, a dietician at Cedars –Sinai Medical Group in Beverly Hills, say: ”Vegetarian diets during pregnancy can offer all the necessary nutrients to both the mother and child.”
A pregnant woman that chooses to follow a vegan diet should take supplements of vitamins and minerals.
Table of Contents
- 1 Advantages of Vegetarian Diet during Pregnancy
- 2 Disadvantages of Vegan Diet during Pregnancy
- 3 Myths vs. Science
Advantages of Vegetarian Diet during Pregnancy
There are a lot of positive aspects to adopting a diet based on vegetarian diet while pregnant.
Removing Unhealthy Foods from the Diet
No matter the diet chosen by the fresh vegan mother, she is more careful to what she chooses to eat and is easier to copy with unhealthy appetites than a mother who, before she was pregnant, has not adopted a balanced diet. It has been scientifically proven that vegan women consume very little unhealthy foods and much more nutrient-rich foods. Click this web page!
Improving Unpleasant Symptoms during Pregnant
In general, people have major nutritional deficiencies and especially during pregnancy, these deficiencies occur a very prominent manner, mainly through the pregnancy=specific states (considered normal) as well as through the states of exhaustion due to anemia. A diet rich in natural products combined with a positive and clean thinking and physical exercise, restful sleep and inner peace, make a pregnancy to be a wonderful experience that lacks of deficiencies. Women who want to enjoy a beautiful pregnancy need to reach out to their family and friends for help, and avoid all the unhealthy habits before pregnancy. These new symptoms that now occur are just a way to guide us in our journey to a healthy lifestyle.
Low Risk of Tooth Decay
Following a vegan diet can keep you from dental caries, which is a very common issue while expecting.
A normally-adapted diet involves adequate protein consumption without exceeding the daily ration, which doesn`t affect the kidney or dentistry. Also, if the pregnant woman has a diet that is properly adapted along with specific vitamin and mineral supplements for the pregnancy, dentition isn`t affected.
Reduces the Risk of Suffering from Various Medical Conditions
According the many studies and research on samples of people who have adopted a vegan diet for a long period of time, there has been a decrease in the risk of suffering a number of diseases, like: obesity, gestational diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, constipation or gallstones.
In the short term, a vegan diet can help with constipation because is easy to digest. It can also help with blood pressure in case of hypertension. In case of high blood pressure, a vegan diet can also in help lowering the tension by decreasing the consumption of saturated fat, salt, and there`s also a decrease in weight, which makes the heart`s activity much easier and decreases the tension to normal values. So, the basic is the lifestyle that is individually tailored to each and every person.
Disadvantages of Vegan Diet during Pregnancy
If a vegan mother is carefully monitored by a nutritionist during pregnancy, then her diet won`t have a negative effect on pregnancy. However, if certain eating rules aren`t followed and the body doesn`t get the recommended nutrients, issues might occur.
Deficiency of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin which plays an essential role in the good functioning of the nervous system and brain cells. The vitamin is found in large amounts in animal products (meat, fish, eggs, dairy products). It`s true that some mushroom varieties and soy products also contain this vitamin, but in a much too small percentage to meet the needs of the human body, especially when we talk about a pregnant woman.
Vitamin B12 is also secreted by bacteria found in the intestines. If you have a healthy digestive tract, you won`t have any issues with the level of this vitamin. A lot of vegans never had a deficiency of vitamin B12. Still, there are women who have a low level and become deficient. Sources of Vitamin B12 are spirulin, fermented foods, probiotics, but a good alternative are also supplements of vitamin B12.
A common concern about the effects of vegetarianism while pregnant is the lack of protein. Protein deficiency when expecting a baby will be felt by the future mother through weakness and fatigue, and in time might lead to fetal development issues. If the pregnant woman chose a strict vegan diet, she has to make sure she gets the protein requirements from other sources, which may include beans, cereals or other vegetables. Otherwise, the whole set of essential amino acids needed to build new proteins in the organism can be affected. The future mothers should consume at least 71g of protein every day in the last 2 quarters of pregnancy.
When pregnant women who follow a vegan diet are concerned, the iron deficiency increases. During this period, the iron requirements increases with 50%, that`s why is needed additional sources of iron: red meat, liver and kidney, cocoa powder, baked potatoes, soybean, wheat germ, whole wheat bread, eggs or sardines. The iron from meat is absorbed in 10% – 30% compared with iron from vegetables which is absorbed in proportion of 2% – 10%. A good assimilation of iron requires vitamin C (that`s why it`s good to consume meat with salad and a bit of lemon juice).
The Baby May Have a Low Birth Weight
Lack of iron in pregnancy can make a woman accuse states of apathy, fainting or chronic fatigue. In some cases that are more severe, iron deficiency can also be a cause for low birth weight or the occurrence of cognitive issues over time. Iron can be found in high doses in fish and meat. However, certain vegetables contain enough iron, even if they are more difficult to absorb by the organism. Experts recommend that the diet of pregnant women should contain 27 mg of iron on a daily basis. For instance, soy contains 8.8 mg of iron/cup, while ½ cup of boiled spinach contains 2.3 mg.
Weight during Pregnancy
Another issue is represented by the weight. Vegan women during pregnancy risk gaining weight much slower, and this may have a negative impact on the child. To deal with this issue, the pregnant woman has to eat a larger amount of food or eat foods with high content of fat.
The key to success for a healthy pregnancy is to know how to get all the essential nutrients in time, even if dairy products, meat or eggs aren`t included in the menu. For example, to supplement the need for protein which is normally provided by meat, a vegan woman must include tofu, whole grains, cheese, soy, yogurt or cow`s milk in the diet.
Most recommendations for pregnant women who follow a vegetarian diet are mainly similar to those for all women while pregnant. For instance, unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices or raw vegetables might contain Salmonella, so this type of foods shouldn`t be consumed.
Myths vs. Science
There are a lot of stories about vegan diet, but so far it hasn`t been shown that it could have any negative effect on fertility. If you accumulate enough calories from your diet, which should be based on cereals, vegetables, fruits and seeds, you don`t have to worry that your organism may suffer.
The only restriction may be on soy products (tofu, soy milk), which you should consume in up to 3 servings per day. This is mainly because soy contains isoflavonoids (natural hormones) like genistein. This has a structure similar to estrogen, and a too high dose of this hormone could overwhelm your ovulation. Studies have also shown that genistein may destroy semen and prevent it from reaching the egg. So, it doesn`t really help in conceiving a child.
The main ingredients you should be careful not to miss from your diet are calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, folic acid and iron. To be sure you have enough intake of these vitamins and minerals, here`s how you should eat:
Calcium is essential if you want healthy breasts, for both you and your baby. Although it`s not a missing ingredient from the vegan diets, it`s good to take a supplement from the vegetables and fruits that are full of it.
Add sunflower seeds in your daily diet, as well as hazelnuts, hums and double portions of broccoli. You can eat a piece of tofu or drink a glass of soy milk. However, pay attention not to over-do-it with the measures of these products.
Vitamin D is missing from many diets, not just vegan ones, but the human body is able to synthesize it from the sun. So, 30 minutes in the park or at the beach for a few days per week can be a great recipe for vitamin D.
Don`t forget the sunscreen if you don`t want to burn your skin. You may also take a supplement of vitamin D from cereals.
Vitamin B12 can be taken from bread and cereals, as well as yeast-based products. If you don`t like it, you can cover the deficit with supplements.
Iron helps blood circulation and strengthens the immunity. It`s a mineral that generally isn`t lacking in the vegan diet because it contains a lot of vegetables, but especially spinach.
Folic acid is essential for any future pregnancy because it prevents abnormalities of the neurologic system and the spine of the future baby. The best vegan sources for folic acid (vitamin B9) are green leafy vegetables, papaya (more info) and strawberry.
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for the development of the brain and the baby`s central nervous system. They are generally found in fish, but for vegetarians a good source of fatty acids can be algae and olive oil.
Proteins are important for muscle development and tissue formation. Although the best protein is found in chicken and fish meat, it doesn`t mean that vegetarians have no solutions. Good sources of protein are rice, nuts, chestnuts, peas and dry beans. – Read this!
So, as long as you follow the basic rules that any pregnant woman needs to follow when getting the most important nutrients for her health and the one of her baby, it`s completely safe to follow any vegan diet during pregnancy.
Talk to your doctor about following such a diet first. If it will be necessary, he`ll recommend what vitamins and minerals you should take to help you maintain your organism healthy.