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Chelsea at Crunch Gym

Forty Weeks of Fitness!

Chelsea, our pregnancy fitness expert, is a certified personal trainer at Crunch gym in San Francisco, California. She gave birth to her daughter, Madeira Re, in July 2006. Read more

Vegetarian and Vegan Diets

Iron - Many women, vegetarian or not, don't get enough iron while they are pregnant, which can lead to anemia, especially during the second half of pregnancy. Good vegetarian sources of iron include beans, dark leafy vegetables, blackstrap molasses, nuts and seeds, and fortified breads and cereals.

Vitamin B-12 - This nutrient plays an important role in fetal brain development, normal cell growth, and protein synthesis; however, it is not found in most plant-based foods. To get your daily requirement of B-12, take a multivitamin or eat B-12-fortified cereal and soy milk.

Folate - Folate, or folic acid, is critical to neural development. Vegetarians tend to have a naturally higher folate intake than omnivores, because vegetarians' diets usually include more dark leafy green vegetables and legumes. However, it's still a good idea to take a prenatal vitamin with folic acid in it to ensure you are meeting your needs.

Vegan Moms-to-Be

Women who follow a stricter vegan diet, in which they consume no meat, dairy, or egg products, have additional nutritional concerns. If you are vegan and pregnant, pay close attention to your intake of the following nutrients:

Protein - Obtaining adequate protein on a vegan diet is not a problem. Seeds and nuts, pulses, wholegrain and grain products, and soy products all supply protein. At one time, it was thought that plant proteins are of a lower quality than animal proteins in terms of their essential amino acid content. However, this is no longer regarded as a problem and eating a balanced diet of plant foods can provide you with adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids.

Calories - A vegan diet is often bulky due to the amount of plant products, and this can cause it to be low in caloric density. A diet that is too low in calories will cause your body to use protein for energy, thus decreasing the amount of protein available to you and your baby. Make an effort to include enough calories in your diet by adding some healthful oils such as olive oil, and including nuts, nut butters, seeds, olives, avocados, and dried fruits in your diet.

Calcium - Vegans can obtain sufficient amounts of calcium from plant foods. Good sources include tofu, leafy green vegetables, watercress, dried fruit, seeds and nuts. White bread is also fortified with calcium, as are some soy milks. Hard tap water can also provide significant amounts of calcium.

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