Vegan diet could make it harder for women to get pregnant if it depletes nutrients, expert warns

Vegan women may find it harder to get pregnant and they should start eating ‘small amounts’ of meat and fish if they’re trying to conceive, expert warns

  • Vegans may be lacking in zinc, iron and vitamin B12, all found in meat
  • Another problem is the lack of omega 3 and iodine, both of which come from eating fish.
  • The biologist said those who lacked such nutrients should eat meat and fish again

A vegan diet can make it harder for women to get pregnant, a fertility expert has warned.

Around 3% of people in the UK eat no animal-derived food at all, according to a poll by YouGov.

But reproductive biologist Grace Dugdale warns that while a diet high in fruits, vegetables and legumes is healthy, fad veganism could cause problems for women trying to conceive.

Where they are depleted of important nutrients, she advises that it might be beneficial to go back to eating a small amount of meat and fish.

Vegans may be lacking in zinc, iron, and vitamin B12 because they don’t eat meat.

Another problem is the lack of omega 3, which comes from oily fish, and iodine, which is found in dairy products and white fish.

Reproductive biologist Grace Dugdale warns that while a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and legumes is healthy, fad veganism could cause problems for women trying to conceive. (File image)

Miss Dugdale said: ‘If vegans and vegetarians haven’t taken the appropriate supplements, they may have some remedial work to do to rebuild the stores of these nutrients in their bodies.’

The biologist, who advises infertile couples on nutrition, was speaking to the Fertility Show which was being held in London over the weekend.

Afterward, she said, “I completely understand the ethical and environmental reasons why people are vegan and people should do what they think is good for them.

“But I sometimes tell women who are trying to conceive and who have depleted the levels of these nutrients that they would benefit from starting to eat a small amount of meat and fish.

“Vitamin and mineral level testing tells us if an individual’s diet is meeting their body’s nutritional needs, and vegan patients often have low levels of key nutrients needed for baby development.

“Eggs and dairy products contain important nutrients needed for fertility and pregnancy.”

Plant-based milks don’t always contain iodine like cow’s milk does, and leafy green vegetables do contain iron, but it’s not as easily absorbed as iron from meat.

Zinc, found in meat, increases sperm count and swimming ability in men, as does omega 3.

Rehan Salim, consultant in gynecology and reproductive medicine at Imperial College Healthcare, told women wishing to freeze their eggs that they

Rehan Salim, consultant in gynecology and reproductive medicine at Imperial College Healthcare, told women wanting to freeze their eggs that they “need protein”, advising them to eat meat as well as plenty of vegetables. (archive picture)

Rehan Salim, consultant in gynecology and reproductive medicine at Imperial College Healthcare, also spoke at the show, which is still selling tickets to watch the expert talks online.

He told women who wanted to freeze their eggs that they “need protein”, advising them to eat meat and plenty of vegetables.

Miss Dugdale added that men also need all the right nutrients to produce good quality semen.

She wrote The Fertility Book, a guide to a successful healthy pregnancy, with Professor Adam Balen.

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