[Vegetarian diets in the nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding women]

Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2016 Apr;40(238):264-8.
[Article in Polish]


Pregnant and breastfeeding women who eat vegetarian are a source of much controversy. This is the result of concern that eliminating some or all animal produce may lead to nutritional deficiencies and thus adversely affect the mother's and child's health. The American Dietetic Association's position is that appropriately planned vegan, lacto-vegetarian and lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets ensure a normal course of pregnancy and lactation. However, in practice the balancing of such a diet can pose certain difficulties, especially for individuals without the necessary experience or knowledge about nutrition. Nutrients to which particular attention needs to be paid to ensure their sufficient supply include: protein (essential amino acids), Omega-3 essential fatty acids, iron and calcium as well as vitamins D and B(12). The proper adherence to recommendations can be attained with a varied diet containing suitable plant products compensating for the nutritional value of the eliminated animal products. Supplementation with vitamin D and vitamin B(12) is also necessary. Research shows that infants born to vegetarian mothers are born at term and have normal birth weight. There is an increased risk of hypospadias in boys. The main difference in the composition of vegetarian mothers' milk compared to non-vegetarians' is lower content of docosahexaenoic acid and higher content of Linoleic and α-Linolenic acid.

Keywords: lactation; nutrients; pregnancy; vegetarian diet.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids, Essential / administration & dosage
  • Breast Feeding*
  • Calcium, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Diet, Vegetarian*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Iron, Dietary / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Pregnancy
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage


  • Amino Acids, Essential
  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Iron, Dietary
  • Vitamins