Is It OK To Be An Expectant Vegetarian Mother?

By Owen Jones

There is nothing per se wrong with following a vegetarian regime if you are expecting a baby. Whether you were a vegetarian before you became pregnant or you have chosen to be a vegetarian now that you are pregnant, the issue is the same as that for all mothers-to-be: namely, to make sure that you and the baby have all the vitamins and nutrients that you both need.

This is a slightly harder task if you are just beginning down the vegetarian road because of your lack of information, but it is not that hard. There is so much knowledge on the Internet and in books now, and the doctors will be monitoring you, so you ought not miss out on anything you both need.

Your baby will have to grow a few pounds of bones, so calcium is one of your foremost priorities yet it is also one of the nutrients that a non-vegetarian can leave meat to provide. If you are at the level of being a vegetarian where you eat meals of meat and three veg but without the meat, you must have a major rethink, and you could take supplements and eat tofu, broccoli and other dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and cabbage.

Vitamin D is easy, yet you do need a regular supply of it. Our skin synthesizes Vitamin D from sunlight, so you have to go out in the sun for half an hour a day or more. However, it is no good going out in the midday sun with sunblock on.

It is better to go outside in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is less expected to burn you. It does not even have to be bright sunlight for your body to make Vitamin D.

Vitamin B12 is abundant in red meat, yet scarcely present at all in plants. However, there are a few vegetable sources of vitamin B12: soya (tofu) is one of them and vitamin-enhanced vegetarian products (normally cereals) are another.

Even so, you will almost certainly have to take supplements to acquire enough vitamin B12 for an expectant mother. Fortunately, your doctor will be keeping an eye on your Vitamin B12 intake and he or she will be able to counsel you.

You will also need plenty of iron, which is also abundant in meat, and also in numerous vegetables. You have to have iron to keep your blood in decent shape and a lack of iron shows up as aenemia.

Again, dark green, leafy vegetables are the order of the day here as are beans, seeds and nuts. However, due to the amount of iron that you will require, you might require supplements for this one as well.

You require protein. A normal diet gets protein from dairy products like milk and cheese; from eggs and from meat and fish. You may or you may not be eating some of those products, but if you are not then you will need to derive your protein from somewhere else. Tofu is a decent source of vegetable protein, but vegetable protein is a pretty difficult one to find if you do not like tofu.

You will need zinc which again is abundant in meat. If you are searching for a vegetable source there are lots in the form of grains - all the different kinds of grains including those used for bread,

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