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Maintain a Vegetarian Diet While Nursing an Infant

Updated on November 15, 2010
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Whitney is a mom trying to evoke a healthy, happy life for herself and her family.

Vegetarian and Nursing

Being a vegetarian generally means you hear a lot of crap from the meat-eaters about how there's just no way you are healthy without eating meat, but you've gotten where you are for a reason... You've watched what you ate in order to ensure that you eat the proper foods to keep yourself healthy.

While pregnant, you probably heard the same things by more people. "You're just not taking care of yourself or your baby." Well, you've proven them wrong, by giving birth to a healthy baby.

Now, it's time to ensure that you baby maintains the good health. You want to make sure that you continue watching your diet to ensure that you consumer proper amounts of B12, caclium, zinc, and other vitamins, so that your baby can consume these vitamins.

Staying Healthy While Nursing

Whether you're a vegan or a vegetarian, I'm sure that you pay clsoe attention to your own diet, in order to consume the proper foods and supplements. Having gone through your pregnancy and continuing your vegetarian diet, you know how important it is for you and your baby to maintain a healthy diet.

Now, that you've delivered your baby and you are nursing, you want to make sure that you stay healthy, as you are continuing to use your body to enrich your baby's.

It is very important that you ensure that you are getting plenty of B12, calcium, and zinc, so that this can be passed to your baby. It is vital that you ensure these nutrients in order to ensure the healthy of your newborn.

B12

As a vegetarian, you may still be consuming eggs, cheese, milk, and other dairy, fish, and some poultry products, which will help you consume proper amounts of B12, but if you're a vegan, and your diet lacks these foods, you'll want to ask your pediatrician and/or doctor to prescribe a B12 supplement.

If you are not getting enough B12 in your diet, both you and your baby can become deficient. If you are supplementing yourself, you will not need to supplement your baby too. You will need to supplement your baby if you are not consuming enough B12 in your diet.

B12 Deficiency in Infants

If you are not getting enough B12 in your diet, then your baby isn't either. Breastfed babies will become B12 deficient around 2 to 6 months old, but will not start to show signs until 6 to 12 months. Babies who are B12 deficient will show signs of vomiting, lethargy, anemia, hypotonia, developmental delay or regression, and an overall failure to thrive.

Calcium

While nursing, you won't need to consume more calcium than what is required for your age group, but you do need to ensure that you're consuming calcium, whether that be by dairy product or a supplement.

Vegetarians tend to eat more foods that have calcium in them, so they may not need as strong of a calcium dose, but if you're not getting enough calcium, whether you're a vegan or vegetarian, consider a multi-vitamin that contains caclium, magnesium, and zinc.

Make sure that you eat plenty of calcium-rich foods, such as bok choy, cabbage, collards, kale, broccoli, and other dark-leafy greens.

For women between 19 and 50, you want to get at least 1000 mg of calcium a day.

Vitamin D

You want to make sure that along with calcium, you get plenty of vitamin D, which can be achieved through fortified foods and sunlight.

Zinc

For women between 19 and 50 who are breastfeeding, it's important to get about 12 mg of zinc a day


Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed physician. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor or a nutritionalist for any concerns or questions that you may have.

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    • jeanie.stecher profile image

      jeanie.stecher 

      8 years ago from Seattle

      They say that malunggay leaf is good while you are breastfeeding. And so while I am pregnant, I use to eat green leafy vegetables most of the time.

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