Being a Vegetarian -- and Pregnant

Nutritionist Maria Pari-Keener, MS, RD, answers the question, Does a vegetarian diet provide the necessary nutrition?

Question

I'm a vegetarian. People keep telling me that I won't get enough iron from a nonmeat diet. Is this really true?

Answer

It's okay to be a vegetarian while pregnant. You may just have to make adjustments in your diet and/or take supplements. Iron from animal sources is absorbed significantly better than iron from plant sources. It's possible that you could develop iron-deficiency anemia, a condition pregnant women are susceptible to anyhow. You may want to take an iron supplement or a prenatal vitamin supplement. Be sure they contain at least 30 mg of iron. Also, eating foods rich in vitamin C and iron at the same time will greatly enhance the absorption of iron. For instance, having red peppers with your spinach will help you get more iron out of the spinach. Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables, especially the colorful ones, like cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, strawberries, and broccoli.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.

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