Nurturing life Your reference in perinatal nutrition, from pregnancy to childhood

I’m pregnant and I do not eat meat or fish; Am I at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency?

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By : Nurturing Life's Nutrition Team | Montreal Diet Dispensary
vegetarien-vegetalien-viande-poisson-b12-enceinte

Yes and no.

If you are vegetarian and drink little or no milk, yes.

If you are vegan: definitely, yes.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarians may very well meet their vitamin B12 needs with dairy and eggs. Only by drinking 500 ml of 3.25% milk or eating two eggs and 250 ml of 3.25% milk per day, they can meet their needs for this vitamin.

On the other hand, for vegans, the task is more complicated. By consuming fortified foods (soy milk, nutritional yeast, imitation meats or even modified plants fortified with vitamin B12), they will be able to get a good amount of vitamin B12 in their diet.

For vegan pregnant women, it is highly recommended to take a daily supplement of vitamin B12 that covers the needs of 2.6 mcg per day.

A lack of vitamin B12 can cause anemia, memory problems and other permanent neurological problems. A lack of vitamin B12 can be masked by the presence of a large quantity of folic acid in the diet. Deficiency symptoms may only appear after a long period of time, therefore it is better not to wait for their appearance, but to prevent it!

References

  • Dietitians of Canada. Vegetarianism background. In PEN : practice-based evidence in nutrition®. Last update: Feb 21, 2012. Access only by subscription.
  • Position of the American dietetic association: Vegetarian diet. (2009). Journal of the Academy of nutrition and dietetics.Volume 109, Issue 7 , Pages 1266-1282,July 2009
  • Shils, M.E., Shike, M., Ross, C., Caballero, B. & Cousins, R. (2006). Modern nutrition in health and diseases (10th ed.). Philadelphia, United States of America: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the official views of the Public Health Agency of Canada.