Vegetarianism During Pregnancy Pregnant women who…

January 10, 2007

Vegetarianism During Pregnancy

Pregnant women who are vegetarian can still enjoy a carefully planned vegetarian diet. There are many health benefits to vegetarian diets, but women who are pregnant need to take extra care to get enough protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.

Protein is essential to promote normal fetal growth, so it is an important nutrient for a healthy pregnancy. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for women and men is 0.80 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. During pregnancy, most doctors suggest women increase their daily protein intake by 6 grams (about the amount in one 250 mL glass of partly-skimmed milk, one cup of broccoli, one egg, or one-third cup of dry-roasted almonds).

Vegetarian sources of protein include grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and egg or milk products. Keep in mind that the protein in vegetables is less concentrated and less easily absorbed so you may need more or larger portions to get the required amount of protein.

The Vegetarian Food Guide published by the Dietitians of Canada suggests that pregnant women consume the following amount of these foods daily:

vitamin B12-rich foods: 4 servings
beans/nuts/seeds: 7 servings
calcium-rich foods: 8 servings

What about vegans? The Alberta Health and Wellness During Pregnancy Guide states that vegan diets can be low in calories, iron, zinc, vitamin B12, B6, calcium, and vitamin D. If you are vegan, talk to your doctor or a dietitian about ensuring you get enough essential nutrients during pregnancy.

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