In recent years, veganism has become a popular lifestyle choice for many people, but what does this mean for those trying to conceive? What’s the deal with veganism and fertility, is it ok? Fertility nutritionist, Jen Walpole, gives us an insight into some of the key nutrients that might be missing on a plant-based diet and tips on how you can support your fertility, alongside this popular lifestyle choice.
Words by Jen
www.jenwalpole.com | @jenwalpolenutrition
As highlighted in my previous blog post, the Mediterranean diet, which is predominantly plant-based, comes out on top for supporting male and female fertility. However, the optimal foods to help fertility do still contain fish, dairy and meat, so for those that are strictly vegan, following a mostly vegetarian diet or consuming very few animal products, it’s super important to consider the key nutrients that might be low and for which you may need fertility supplementation.
Adequate dietary protein is essential for supporting rapid growth and development during pregnancy. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and the body requires twenty of them to function properly. Nine of these are essential, (which means they must be obtained exclusively through the diet) and include tryptophan, threonine, lysine and methionine. If we look at just these four in isolation, the richest sources are obtained from animal products. However, there are some key plant-based foods that offer smaller amounts.
These include oats, nuts, seeds, tofu, quinoa, lentils, beans, edamame, green peas, spirulina, wholewheat bread and dark chocolate. One study concluded that increasing plant-based protein was positively correlated with better fertility outcomes, compared to foods that increased animal protein. The key here is to ensure you are obtaining a variety of these foods every single day, as those on a plant-based diet will have to eat larger amounts to meet requirements. In addition, protein requirements increase by 6g per day from the first trimester.
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