Vegetarian diet during pregnancy

Pregnant vegetarians should be especially careful to eat enough iron and vitamin D, as well as the right types of fat.

A lactovegetarian diet, which includes dairy products, is usually fine during pregnancy. If you are a vegan, you may need to consult a dietician to make sure your diet includes the nutrients your growing baby needs for healthy development.

Protein for pregnant vegetarians
If you eat some eat some animal-derived foods, it is relatively easy to get enough protein from milk, cheese and eggs. This is more of a challenge if you are pregnant and a vegan. Eat soya beans, lentils and other pulses, soya milk, tofu and nuts.
Your baby needs various types of protein so eat some of each of these food groups.

You can get iron from other foods than meat
If you don't eat meat, whole grain products, pulses, leafy green vegetables and dried fruit are other good sources of iron. However, it can be difficult to eat these foods in sufficient amounts.
Read more here about how to avoid anaemia during pregnancy.

Calcium, vitamin D and folic acid
Like other pregnant women, you should make sure you get enough of these essential nutrients. Read here about foods that contain calcium, vitamin D and folic acid.
It is important to choose margarine and milk enriched with vitamin D.

If you don't eat dairy products, it is advisable to take a calcium supplement. Vegans may need help from a dietician to plan a diet that provides enough vitamin B 12 and vitamin D.
Even if you are not a vegetarian, it is good to take a daily multivitamin supplement. If you choose a multivitamin supplement intended for use during pregnancy, it will contain the recommended daily amount of folic acid and vitamin D.

Eat fibre
Are you suffering from constipation? It usually helps to eat fibre, drink plenty of liquid and exercise. All types of pulses, such as peas, beans and lentils, contain fibre as well as essential nutrients. So do vegetables in the cabbage family. Grated cabbage can be used in both hot and cold dishes. Wholemeal bread, muesli, cereal flakes and porridge are ideal during pregnancy. And of course fruit is high in vitamins and fibre.

Choose the right fat
It is particularly important to eat polyunsaturated fat during pregnancy. Rapeseed oil and olive oil both contain a good balance of different types of fat. Try to cook with these oils, or a liquid margarine based on them.

For vegetarians who don't eat fish, it is particularly important to eat sufficient amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, for instance from rapeseed oil. The body can partially transforming these fatty acids into the type of fatty acids found in fatty fish, which are essential to the foetus's development.

Even if you don't usually eat fish, you might consider doing so during pregnancy to meet your need for DHA, an essential fatty acid. Otherwise you might need to take a DHA supplement for a few months.

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