Tuesday, February 9, 2010

vegetarianism and pregnancy

Many people wonder how vegetarians get all the nutrients they need in general, nevermind when they are "eating for two". Here are a few tips and thoughts about a vegetarian pregnancy.

The first thing to note is that if you are a responsible vegetarian already, who eats a variety of food including vegetable sources of protein, vegetarianism during pregnancy should not be an issue at all.

The vitamins and minerals that are especially essential in pregnancy are:

Folate- essential for baby's neural tube development
food sources: leafy dark greens, broccoli, fortified cereals and bread, bananas, peanuts

Calcium- important for your baby's bones, teeth, (and yours) muscles, heart and nerve development
food sources: milk, soy milk, fortified tofu, tahini, almonds, almond butter, kidney beans, dandelion greens

B12- activates folate in the body
food sources: eggs, milk, yeast flakes, fortified soy milk or tofu

Iron- during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters (and breastfeeding) the baby draws iron from you to maintain his needs for the first 6 months of his life
food sources: eggs, lentils, beans, chickpeas, tofu, broccoli, bok choy, blackstrap molasses, quinoa

Zinc- helps you with a faster recovery after birth
food sources: chick peas, pumpkin seeds, tahini

Omega-3- important for the development and growth of the baby, especially brain development
food sources: this is the most difficult to get in a complete form, I rely on Udo's Oil, which I add to a protein shake every other day

If you feel you don't eat anything on one particular list, then ask your pharmacist or doctor about the supplements available. For a more in depth discussion of vegetarianism and the nutrients you need see my post on 'The vegetarian child". It is routine to have your blood checked a few times through the pregnancy, at which times your doctor will tell you if you are low in iron or B12.

So without further ado, here is a photo of my delicious meal for one tonight (Big B is away). A vegetarian curry with brown rice. Potatoes, carrots, green beans, and cabbage flavoured with dried cumin, dried coriander, garam masala, cumin seeds, tahini, and grated (fresh) ginger, topped with some parsley and cashews. I usually have a dairy-free choc/peanut butter protein shake (just while pregnant) at some point during the day for an extra hit of calcium, protein and other nutrients. Stay tuned for that recipe tomorrow- it's soooo good.


*disclaimer- I am by no means a nutritionist, but I am a healthy, active vegetarian. This was written based on my experiences and research.


Cass said...

That looks super delicious! :)

Luisa @ Dance in my garden said...

Can't wait for the recipe!
That looks so amazing.

One pair of Hands said...

That looks scrumptious. I've heard that mushrooms have B 12 too.

jodi said...

this is all really interesting m. i make a curry quite similar to that at least once a week. the smoothie looks good too. i'm a little low in iron at the moment so am eating kale straight from the garden tonight. oh, the butter nail polish you mentioned a while back - my local organic store sells it. i'm so tempted but it's almost $20 a bottle so it will have to be a little splurge for me.

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