Vegan trying out for a baby? You may have to eat meat

vegans, meat, animal products, conceive

Since vegans do not eat animal products, they are highly likely to be low in Vitamin B12, iron and zinc.

Photo credit: SHUTTERSTOCK

What you need to know:

  • Zinc from meat products contains Omega 3 which, according to fertility experts, is able to increase sperm count and swimming ability.
  • For women who want to freeze their eggs, it is recommended to consume large quantities of vegetables and meat proteins.

If you are a vegan with hopes of conceiving in the near future, you may just have to halt your veganism journey,  experts now say.

A diet based on fruits, vegetables and cereals is likely to cause fertility issues among vegans and vegetarians despite being largely considered to be healthy, according to fertility health specialists.

Reproductive health expert Grace Dugdale, who is based in the UK, explains that since vegans do not eat animal products, they are highly likely to be low in Vitamin B12, iron and zinc.

They are also Omega 3 and iodine deficient — nutrients normally found in oily fish, white fish and dairy products,  respectively.

In instances where there is vital nutrient deficiency, the biologist advises vegans to start consuming small quantities of animal proteins such as fish and beef in the event they are trying out for a baby.

"Vegetarians and vegans may have to put extra effort to regain their body reserves for these nutrients if they have not been taking recommended supplements," elaborates Dugdale.

"I fully understand reasons to do with environment and ethics that prompt individuals to be vegans. People must be free to do what they feel is good for them."

"For women trying to conceive but have diminished levels of vital nutrients, it is advisable, sometimes, to begin consuming small amounts of fish and meat," she says.

The medic further explains that vegan patients usually have minimal levels of key nutrients, which are required for baby development.

"Conducting tests for minerals and vitamins levels reveals if the dietary pattern of a person meets their body’s nutritional demands. For pregnancy and fertility, dairy products and eggs are needed as they contain vital nutrients," she offers.

Although there are plant based milks and leafy green vegetables rich in iron, health experts point out that milk from plants does not always contain iodine as the milk from a cow does, while plant based iron is not easily absorbed compared to iron found in meat products.

Moreover, zinc from meat products contains Omega 3 which, according to fertility experts, is able to increase sperm count and swimming ability.

For women who want to freeze their eggs, it is recommended to consume large quantities of vegetables and meat proteins, states Rehan Salim, a gynaecologist and reproductive medicine consultant at Imperial College Healthcare.

Proper dietary patterns is not only for women but also a requirement for men in order to produce sperms which are of good quality, notes Dugdale, who is also The Fertility Book author in collaboration with Professor Adam Balen.

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