Pregnant mothers must maintain a healthy balanced diet. Healthy nutrition is essential to prevent congenital disabilities, ensure healthy fetal growth, and promote maternal well-being. It is incredibly challenging for pregnant vegan or vegetarian mums because most essential nutrients are available from animal products.
Although a well-balanced, nutritious diet is ideal, pregnant mothers can only receive certain nutrients from health supplements. Vegan or vegetarian pregnant mothers must, however, watch for supplements that may contain fish or animal protein.
Here is a brief breakdown of essential nutrients ideal for pregnant mothers. The following article also highlights nutrients essential for vegan and vegetarian mothers.
Essential Nutrients For Pregnant Mothers
The following article offers a guide to the essential nutrients pregnant mothers require to maintain the overall health of themselves and their unborn babies. Pregnant women must consult healthcare professionals to determine their nutrient needs to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
Folate and Folic Acid
To aid the healthy development of the fetal nervous system, folate, part of the Vitamin B group, is essential. Health professionals recommend that pregnant women consume 400-600 micrograms of folate daily. Mums-to-be can find folate in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and fortified cereals.
Iron is essential in hemoglobin production, which carries oxygen to the developing fetus. Pregnant women require approximately 27 milligrams of iron daily. An insufficient supply of iron could result in iron deficiency anemia. Vegetarian and vegan mothers can obtain iron from lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, and fortified cereals. Pregnant mums can consume vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits or bell peppers to help improve iron absorption.
Calcium is essential for developing strong bones and teeth in the mother and growing baby. Pregnant and lactating mums require 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. Vegetarian and vegan mothers can find calcium-rich foods like dairy alternatives (fortified with calcium), leafy green vegetables, tofu, and fortified orange juice to supplement their calcium intake.
Calcium absorption and bone development in the growing fetus depend on Vitamin D. Pregnant and lactating women require 600-800 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily. Ideal sources of vitamin D include fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified milk. Vegan and vegetarian mums can find Vitamin D in fortified plant-based milk, mushrooms exposed to sunlight, and supplements.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are essential for fetal brain and eye development. Mums require approximately 200-300 milligrams of DHA daily. While fatty fish is an excellent source of Omega-3, vegan and vegetarian mums will find this essential nutrient in algae-based supplements, flaxseed, and chia seeds.
Protein aids in the development of fetal tissues and organs. Pregnant mothers require between 75 to 100 grams of protein daily. While pregnant mums will find protein in lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts, vegan mums will find beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, and whole grains a good source of protein.
Pregnant mothers need to take extra precautions during their pregnancy to ensure their baby’s and themselves’ health. Vegetarian and vegan pregnant mothers may benefit from working with a registered dietitian to help them create a balanced meal plan that meets their nutrient requirements. They can also consider taking prenatal vitamins that contain iron, folate, vitamin D, and other essential nutrients.
Mothers-to-be can help ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby by prioritizing their health and nutrition.