Ann Reed Mangels

Summary A vegetarian diet, defined as an eating style that avoids meat, fish, and poultry, can be healthful and nutritionally adequate for a pregnant woman. Some vegetarians, called vegans, avoid dairy products and eggs as well as meat, fish, and poultry. Vegan diets can also be healthful and nutritionally adequate for pregnancy. Vegetarian diets can provide numerous long-term health benefits including a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer, and hypertension. Key nutrients for vegetarian pregnancy include protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine, and omega-3 fatty acids. Vegetarian women should also be counseled to follow standard weight gain recommendations. A vegetarian or vegan diet can meet requirements for all of these nutrients although in some instances, fortified foods or supplements can be especially useful in meeting recommendations. The nutrient content of supplements targeted to pregnant vegetarians should be evaluated to make sure nutrient needs are being met. Dietetics professionals play important roles in counseling pregnant vegetarians and may be called upon to address a variety of issues including family concerns and pressure, making the change to a vegetarian diet during pregnancy, foods and food preparation, meal planning, and coping with common concerns of pregnancy such as nausea and constipation. Practitioners should be able to provide current, accurate information and resources about vegetarian diets.

Keywords: Vegetarian, Vegan, Pregnancy, Iron, Cobalamin, Phytate, Zinc, Omega-3 fatty acids, Calcium, Vitamin D, Iodine

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