Pregnant women who are vegetarian can still enjoy a carefully planned vegetarian diet. There are many health benefits to vegetarian diets, but women who are pregnant need to take extra care to get enough protein, iron, zinc, omega-3 fats, and vitamin B12.
Protein is essential to promote normal fetal growth, so it is an important nutrient for a healthy pregnancy. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for women and men is 0.80 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. During the first trimester of pregnancy, the RDA is the same as before pregnancy, but during the second and third trimesters, the RDA is increased to 1.1 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Vegetarian sources of protein include grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and egg or milk products. Keep in mind that the protein in vegetables is less concentrated and less easily absorbed so you may need more or larger portions to get the required amount of protein.
What about vegans? According to the Dietitians of Canada, vegan diets can be low in calories, iron, zinc, omega-3 fats, vitamin B12, B6, calcium, and vitamin D. If you are vegan, talk to your doctor or a dietitian about ensuring you get enough essential nutrients during pregnancy.
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