Vegetarian or vegan diet in pregnancy

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Catherine Le Nevez
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As for children, even for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, the most suitable diet is the Mediterranean one

: based on vegetable products, but which in any case requires a minimum intake of products of animal origin (eggs, dairy products, fish and very little meat). Veg diets - wholly or partially free of animal products - are still possible, but necessary some extra attention.

This is, in summary, the message launched by the Position paper on vegetarian diets in pregnancy and in childhood, published, among others, by the Del Paesena Society of Perinatal Medicine (Simp). We talked about it with the gynecologist, president Simp, director of the maternal-infant department of the Sacco Hospital in our city.

Read also: Vegetarian and vegan diets for children, pediatricians advise against

Expectant veg diet, the possible risks ...

«The" problem of vegetarian and vegan diets is related to possible - or certain - deficiency of some micronutrients, such as vitamin B12, which is mainly present in meat, iron, calcium, zinc, vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids such as DHA »explains the gynecologist. All important nutrients for bothcourse of pregnancy, both for the fetal and neonatal development.

"The football, for example, it is important for the prevention of the risk of preeclapsmia, so it is certainly necessary to supplement if the future mother follows a vegan diet ", he explains. "For what concern iron, on the other hand, we know that its deficiency is associated with an increased risk of fetal growth retardation and losing more blood after giving birth. Furthermore, we know that children born to mothers with moderate or severe anemia are at some greater risk of neurobehavioral disorders ”.

... but also some advantages

On the other hand, it is also true that a green diet generally guarantees a good supply of other important substances, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, folate. "Obviously, this is if it is a balanced diet, because sometimes the problem is not only what you do not eat, but also what you replace the missing food with" underlines the expert. Thus, it is one thing to replace meat with nice dishes of legumes and cereals, another to indulge in a diet that is too rich in fried foods and cheeses. "However, it must be said that, usually, those who make this type of choice are very careful about what they put on their plate".


The Mediterranean diet is GOOD. Here because

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The more Mediterranean you eat, the longer you live. Also, those who eat "med" get sick less. This diet protects against various diseases: cardiovascular ones before ...

Checks and additions

However, the risks from deficiencies are concrete, especially for the vegan diet. This is why in many cases it is necessary to integrate the missing nutrients with specific supplements: «Always there Vitamin B12, which even in vegetarian diets is often very scarce, but also iron, calcium, DHA and vitamin D.».

Read also:
Vitamin D in pregnancy, it is necessary to take supplements

To assess the situation, the Scientific Societies Position Paper specifically talks about the need for pregnant women to be followed by expert staff e monitored both while waiting and while breastfeeding. In fact, it is normal for the gynecologist, already at the first visit, to inquire about the diet followed by the expectant mother and perhaps prescribe some blood tests to check for any deficiencies (it is done routinely for iron).

Even one nutritional evaluation by a nutritionist would be optimal, but it is not certain that the path is always feasible within the National Health Service.

The basic rule: vary as much as possible

Faced with the large mass of advice and indications concerning her - what to eat, what to drink, how many and which supplements to take - a pregnant woman can often feel overwhelmed, but according to the fundamental rule to follow it is very simple.

"Do not think about what you eat while you are eating it, but try to plan ahead, possibly before pregnancy, given the importance of the preconception period, a varied and balanced diet, with healthy cooking methods. And with the help of supplements, when needed ».

Read also: The first 1000 days of the baby

  • Mediterranean diet
  • vegan diet
  • Vegetarian diet
  • pregnancy diet
  • pregnancy feeding
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