image bio

Love your body from the inside, out with an extra 10% off your first order of vitamin & supplement subscriptions with code LOVE23. Shop Now ➔

Home > Learn > Nutrition > >Is Vegetarianism Safe During Pregnancy and When Trying to Conceive?

Is Vegetarianism Safe During Pregnancy and When Trying to Conceive?

Jul 31, 20 5 min
Is Vegetarianism Safe During Pregnancy and When Trying to Conceive? - Natalist

A well-balanced vegetarian diet has numerous health benefits. Research shows that increasing intake of plant foods and decreasing intake of animal foods can help reduce the risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

 

By Sarah Rueven (RD, MS, CDN) and Claire Virga (RD, MS, CDN)

A well-balanced vegetarian diet has numerous health benefits. Research shows that increasing intake of plant foods and decreasing intake of animal foods can help reduce the risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes

At our private nutrition practice, Rooted Wellness, many of our clients want to know if maintaining a vegetarian diet is safe during pregnancy and adequate for conception. The simple answer is yes! Research shows that a well-balanced vegetarian diet is safe for both a mother’s health during pregnancy and the health of her baby. 

However, vegetarians are at a greater risk for certain nutrient deficiencies, especially during pregnancy, when nutrient needs are increased. If you are a vegetarian mama-to-be, eating a well-balanced diet inclusive of a wide variety of foods and thoughtful use of vitamin and mineral supplementation can help you meet your needs.

Nutrients of concern for a vegetarian pregnancy

Deficiencies in these nutrients are more common among vegetarians. Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should be conscious of getting in good sources of these nutrients daily!

Protein

Protein needs during pregnancy rise to support growth of fetal and maternal tissues. A pregnant woman needs anywhere between 75-100g of protein per day, depending on her size and activity level. Pregnant women who consume a wide variety of plant-based protein in addition to eggs and dairy should have no problem meeting their increased protein needs. Aim to get at least one serving of protein at each meal and snack to meet your needs.

Iron

Iron helps shuttle oxygen to the various tissues of our body. Iron needs go up during pregnancy to meet increased oxygen demands. Approximately 18% of pregnant women in the US are iron deficient. Studies demonstrate that vegetarians are more likely to have lower iron stores compared with non-vegetarians. 

Plant-based foods are an excellent source of iron but here’s the catch: our bodies can’t absorb non-heme iron, the type of iron found in plant foods, as well as they absorb heme iron, the type that is found in animal foods. To increase absorption of non-heme iron, pair plant-based sources of iron with good sources of vitamin C (like citrus fruits, bell peppers, brussel sprouts & strawberries).

 Good Sources of Vegetarian Iron: Eggs, legumes, tofu, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.

Good Sources of Vegetarian Protein: Eggs, Greek yogurt, beans, chickpeas, lentils, tofu, quinoa, nuts and seeds.

💊 Shop Natalist Iron ⟶

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Adequate omega-3 fatty acid consumption during pregnancy is critical for a baby’s nervous system development. Additionally, research shows that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy may lower a woman’s risk for postpartum depression.  

The two most beneficial omega-3 fatty acids for maternal and fetal health are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). DHA and EPA are primarily found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines and anchovies. Some plant foods contain a third form of omega-3 called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), but ALA is not in the active form and therefore not nearly as beneficial as DHA and EPA. Therefore, vegetarian women should speak to their doctor about supplementing with a high-quality omega-3 DHA supplement.

✨ Shop Prenatal Daily Packets⟶

Vitamin D

A 2013 study showed that women who had sufficient levels of vitamin D had more success conceiving while undergoing IVF compared to women with insufficient levels of vitamin D. Insufficient vitamin D status is also associated with the development of pre-eclampsia and compromised fetal bone development.

We produce vitamin D from the sun and can also get it from consumption of fatty fish, egg yolks, and cheese. Data shows that 42% of the US population is deficient in vitamin D. While vitamin D deficiencies aren’t specific to just vegetarians, it is a nutrient that everyone should be paying more attention to, especially pregnant women or those trying to conceive.

Pregnant women and those women TTC should speak to their doctor about supplementing with vitamin D, whether it be taking vitamin D gummies or capsules.

Vitamin B12

When combined with folate, vitamin B12 is thought to prevent neural tube defects from occurring during pregnancy. The neural tube forms during the first six weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant, so ensuring you have adequate B12 stores prior to pregnancy is critical. Vitamin B12 is only found in foods derived from animals. However, vegetarians can get enough B12 if they are eating eggs and dairy products like cheese, milk and yogurt.

Vegetarian Sources of B12: Dairy products like cheese, milk and yogurt

The Bottom Line

A vegetarian diet is safe for pregnancy but does require a bit more planning and thought. It is important that vegetarian women eat a wide variety of foods to support the healthy growth of their babies and their own physical and mental health. In addition to a high quality vegan prenatal like our Prenatal daily packs, women should speak to their doctor about supplementing with other nutrients.

If you have further questions or would like help planning a vegetarian diet for your own pregnancy, please feel free to reach out to us at Rooted Wellness.  

Shop Products From This Article
Subscribe & Save $5.00 sticker bestseller
Prenatal Daily Packets

Prenatal Daily Packets

Vegan prenatal daily packets

$60 $55

Subscribe & Save $2.00
Iron

Iron

High absorption iron

$20 $18

Shop Products

sticker new
healthcare provider on virtual consult

Ovulation Support Care Plan

Ovulation support program with a licensed healthcare provider

$249

Subscribe & Save $5.00 sticker bestseller
Prenatal Daily Packets

Prenatal Daily Packets

Vegan prenatal daily packets

$60 $55

Subscribe & Save $3.00 sticker bestseller
Magnesium Plus

Magnesium Plus

Pregnancy-safe drink mix to support relaxation‡

$35 $32

Subscribe & Save $2.00 sticker bestseller
Prenatal gummy vitamins

Prenatal Gummies

Doctor-formulated & delicious prenatal gummies

$35 $33

Subscribe & Save $5.00 sticker bestseller
Prenatal Daily Packets

Prenatal Daily Packets

Vegan prenatal daily packets

$60 $55

Subscribe & Save $3.00 sticker bestseller
Magnesium Plus

Magnesium Plus

Pregnancy-safe drink mix to support relaxation‡

$35 $32

Subscribe & Save $2.00 sticker bestseller
Prenatal gummy vitamins

Prenatal Gummies

Doctor-formulated & delicious prenatal gummies

$35 $33

Subscribe & Save $3.00 sticker bestseller
CoQ10 Liquid Capsules

CoQ10 Liquid Capsules

Antioxidant fertility supplement

$35 $32

sticker bestseller
Pregnancy Tests

Pregnancy Tests

As low as $3.20 per test

$16

sticker favorite
Pregnancy Tests (2-Count)

Pregnancy Tests (2-Count)

Easy to read pregnancy tests

$9

sticker bestseller
Ovulation Tests

Ovulation Tests

As low as $1.67 per test

$30

sticker save
mid stream ovulation and pregnancy test bundle

The Test Pack

Pregnancy & ovulation tests

$46 $40

Reach Out, We're Here

Have questions about your order or products? For the speediest answer, check out our FAQ section. Need something else? Come find us below.

Customer Support
support@natalist.com

Press Inquiries
media@everlyhealth.com

Business & Partnerships
team@natalist.com

Affiliates + Influencers
team@natalist.com

Job Openings
Careers Page