Effects of Vegetarian Diet on Pregnant Women

Vegetarian or vegan diet is a diet that includes only foods from plants like fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. And most of the vegans have low or devoid of animal products. Many studies have shown that being in vegetarian diet lowers the risk of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and certain cancers.

There was a study that shows being vegan has some unhealthy effects specifically to pregnant women. They have a high risk of having deficiency on essential nutrients like:

  • Iron: Vegetarians may have a greater risk of iron deficiency than non-vegetarians. The richest sources of iron are red meat, liver and egg yolk -- all high in cholesterol. However, dried beans, spinach, enriched products, brewer's yeast and dried fruits are all good plant sources of iron.
  • Vitamin B-12: This comes naturally only from animal sources. Vegans need a reliable source of vitamin B-12. It can be found in some fortified (not enriched) breakfast cereals, fortified soy beverages, some brands of nutritional (brewer's) yeast and other foods (check the labels), as well as vitamin supplements.
  • Vitamin D: Vegans should have a reliable source of vitamin D. Vegans who don’t get much sunlight may need a supplement.
And also researchers have found that vegetarian diet during pregnancy may not be health to the mom and to the unborn child. Pregnant women who are vegetarians are five times at risk of delivering a boy hypospadias, a birth defect of the penis where the opening of the penis is found on the underside of the penis rather than at the tip. It is a common congenital defect, affecting about 1 in 300 newborn males. The condition requires surgery to correct it, where the foreskin is used to repair the problem. Untreated, it can interfere with urination and sexual function.

However there are proper nutritional planning should be done if you’re into vegetarian diet. This needed to balance the nutrients, calories and energy the body needs:
  • Keep your intake of sweets and fatty foods to a minimum. These foods are low in nutrients and high in calories.
  • Choose whole or unrefined grain products when possible, or use fortified or enriched cereal products.
  • Use a variety of fruits and vegetables, including foods that are good sources of vitamins A and C.
  • If you use milk or dairy products, choose fat-free/nonfat and low-fat varieties.
  • Eggs are high in cholesterol (213 mg per yolk), so monitor your use of them. Limit your cholesterol intake to no more than 300 mg per day.