How to Be Vegan While Pregnant in a Healthful Way
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirmed that a vegan diet is healthy when you are pregnant. You need to make sure that you do get the right nutrients to keep you and your baby healthy. However, you do not need to eat double the amount - “eating for two” is a pregnancy food myth. It is much more important to follow a balanced diet and get all the vitamins and minerals required to keep healthy. Here are some of the things you should consider if you are eating a vegan diet whilst pregnant.
Getting enough calcium
Calcium is essential to help your baby grow a healthy heart, muscles and nerves. In particular, it helps a baby’s heart to develop a strong, normal rhythm. For the mother, calcium helps to reduce the risk of getting preeclampsia and hypertension. Calcium doesn’t just come from dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt. If you have a balanced vegan diet, you won’t need to take additional supplements. There are plenty of vegetables that are rich in calcium that you can eat on your vegan diet, including spinach, kale, collard greens, broccoli, turnip greens and Swiss chard. Berries such as strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are also rich in calcium, which you can eat every day for optimal health.
Keep your iron levels up
Your iron levels will be monitored throughout your pregnancy. You should make sure that you consume at least 27 mg of iron a day to fully support your baby’s development. When you are vegan, this comes from alternative sources to meat and fish. Good sources of iron rich foods include wholemeal bread, dried fruits, such as prunes, apricots and plums, pulses, dark green vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals and porridge. It is also essential that you eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C so you can properly absorb the iron. Your healthcare provider may also wish to discuss taking iron supplements if your iron levels get too low.
Getting Enough Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps your bones and teeth stay healthy. For a developing baby, this is especially important. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, your body won’t absorb enough phosphate and calcium. A vitamin D deficiency has been linked with babies having a low birth weight. Spending plenty of time outside is a good way to boost your vitamin D levels, but you might wish to take a supplement. Check the labelling on supplements, as not all of these are vegan-friendly. Another additional way to boost your vitamin D levels through diet is eating mushrooms. Almond and soy milk are also good sources that you can drink a glass of every day.
Having a vegan diet when you are pregnant is completely healthy. You just need to make sure that you are eating a balanced plant-based diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables so that you receive all the nutrients that you and your baby need.