A nutrient-rich, balanced and healthy diet is more important than ever during pregnancy. The growth and development of the unborn child depend heavily on the values of the mother. If you want to maintain your usual plant-based diet during pregnancy and don’t want to use animal products, you can do so with a clear conscience. However, the focus should increasingly be on sufficient nutrient intake, because the need for vitamins, minerals and trace elements is increasing.
Individual advice on plant-based nutrition
Whether a plant-based diet or not, the fact is that everyone eats differently. Preferences, intolerances and habits differ from one another. Therefore, pregnant women should consider individual advice on their usual diet. We recommend professional advice, especially for pregnant women who are plant-based. The blood values should also be checked by a doctor on a regular basis in order to detect a nutrient deficiency at an early stage and in this case to use dietary supplements.
Important nutrients in pregnancy
No matter what the exact diet, there are a number of nutrients that are very important, especially during pregnancy. We have put together a list of the most important nutrients in pregnancy:
- DHA: is important, among other things, for the development of the child’s nervous system. The long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA is particularly found in high-fat fish species, but also in smaller quantities in edible oils such as soy, rapeseed and walnut oil. Those who eat plant-based foods should switch to foods that have been fortified with long-chain fatty acids.
- Iron: the need for iron increases immensely during pregnancy. Because iron is mainly hidden in meat and fish, it is very important in a plant-based diet to eat foods that have a high iron content, such as: legumes, whole-grain cereals, dried fruits and dark green vegetables. Taking additional iron supplements during pregnancy is also recommended in many cases.
- Iodine and folic acid: whether a plant-based diet or not, iodine and folic acid should also be taken by pregnant women. Iodized table salt is a good source for this. Folic acid is found in asparagus, cabbage, tomatoes, legumes and in extra higher doses in fruit juices.
- Calcium: is often a deficiency symptom in people who eat plant-based foods. Sources such as pak choy, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, soybeans, figs and almonds or fortified products such as fruit juices, rice and soy milk are suitable for intake.
- Vitamin B12: has long been known in the plant-based diet and with good reason. A deficiency in B12 is not only harmful to the mother, but can also have serious consequences for the child. Since vitamin B12 is mainly found in meat and fish, pregnant women who eat plant-based foods should use appropriate food supplements.
- Vitamin D: is mainly formed in the skin through exposure to sunlight and only a small part of it is absorbed through food. The best thing to do is to have yourself checked for vitamin D deficiency. If there are deficiency symptoms, there are also suitable preparations here.
- Zinc: Those who eat plant-based foods are often insufficiently supplied with zinc. Important sources of zinc are soy products, vegetables, grains and nuts. Sprouts and sourdough bread can improve the absorption of zinc from food.
- Energy and calories: are often underestimated. Pregnant women in particular should ensure that they consume a lot of calories, because the body needs energy so that the unborn child can develop undisturbed. We recommend energy- and nutrient-rich products such as nuts, dried fruits and soy products, generous amounts of unsaturated oils when cooking, often a smoothie in between and delicious, unsweetened nut butters.
Energy-rich smoothie for pregnant women
A nutrient-rich smoothie is a great source of energy for in between meals. We have created a recipe that is perfect during pregnancy or breastfeeding:
- a banana
- a handful of blueberries
- two tablespoons of oatmeal
- ½ handful of almonds
- Rice or soy milk
Experiencing pregnancy, growing up a child within you is such a wonderful gift. Intuitive nutrition for the expectant mother is usually everything. We warmly recommend professional advice and regular blood tests.