Vegan Friendly Fertility Diet
31st January 2020
Are you vegan and trying to understand your fertility diet options? If you are TTC or trying to boost your fertility as part of your preconception plan, making healthy lifestyle choices is more important than ever. Being vegan is one of the best things we can do for the environment and the welfare of animals and it can also be great for our health! But there are a few considerations you need to make – especially when TTC. If you are trying to understand the impact of a vegan diet on your fertility – we have some advice…
Can veganism impact my fertility?
The short answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as saying it can have a negative or positive effect. Eating a healthy, plant-based diet can be great for your overall health and in turn, your fertility. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables and cutting out processed meats and junk food will help you reach a healthy BMI and give your fertility a boost. However, a vegan lifestyle doesn’t automatically mean you are making healthier choices.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of eating lots of refined carbs and grain products, such as white bread and white pasta. These foods can have a negative impact on your fertility and increase your chances of gestational diabetes. Cutting out any major food group can also lead to a deficiency in vitamins that are crucial for achieving a healthy balanced diet. The key to TTC when vegan is careful planning and understanding the intricacies of vitamins and supplements needed for fertility.
Vegan Fertility diet plan
If you take a look at any traditional fertility diet plan, you’ll see many of the advised meals are not vegan-friendly. There is a huge list of vitamins that are important for fertility, and it is possible to find them in a plant-based diet, you just need to know where to look!
Of course, we couldn’t talk about a fertility diet plan without mentioning folate! Luckily, a vegan diet is very folate friendly – no cruelty included with those dark, leafy greens. If you’re trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant, folate is essential for your baby’s health.
Stock up on kale, broccoli, spinach and other greens and you’ll be sure to get exactly what you need! It’s also advisable to take a folate supplement or folic acid – most of these tend to be vegan but just be sure to check the label. What to know more about folate? Check out our full blog on it here!
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with low fertility and its also important for the healthy development of your baby once pregnant. Unfortunately, egg yolk and fatty fish are the best nutritional sources of Vitamin D, which is bad news for vegans. However, one of the best sources of the vitamin is sunshine – and that’s totally cruelty-free! That said, you may want to top up your Vitamin D levels with some supplements (scroll down to find out more about vegan-friendly supplements!)
Some studies have shown that women with calcium deficiency are more prone to endometriosis and issues with ovulation. This makes it an important vitamin for fertility as well as the development of healthy teeth and bones – for you and baby. Whilst vegetarians still eat dairy products – the best source of calcium – for vegans they are a no-go. Luckily there are plenty of plant-based options for getting what you need. Everyone’s fertility-boosting favourites broccoli, kale and spinach are great sources of calcium. So are beans, especially red, white and pinto. Sweet potatoes are also a great option for getting calcium into your diet – and they are also a great source of slow-burning energy.
Zinc is important for both male and female fertility – making it an essential nutrient of a fertility-boosting diet. It helps increase healthy sperm count in men and also helps to reduce the risk of low birth weight. Meat and seafood have the highest sources of zinc – but there are plenty of alternative sources for vegans. Nuts, beans and seeds are a great option – and usually staple of a plant-based diet. Oatmeal is also rich in zinc, so an ideal way to start the day.
One thing to bear in mind is that zinc absorption can be impacted by a vegan diet. Many plant-based favourites, including grains, nuts and potatoes are high in phytates, which can inhibit the absorption of zinc into the body. Because of this, it’s really important that you consciously increase your zinc intake, and considering taking supplements too.
This vitamin is essential for foetal development – and it also helps reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia and premature labour. It also is important for breastfeeding and decreases chances of postpartum depression – so its benefits are many and far-reaching!
Unfortunately fish is the number one source for omega-3s. Nut and seed oils are often recommended as vegan alternatives. Whilst they certainly do contain omega-3s, there is reseach to indicate that it doesn’t always convert properly in the body. Supplements are the best option for ensuring you are reaching an optimum level of omega-3 during preconception and pregnancy. Which brings us nicely on to…
What fertility supplements can I take if I’m vegan?
Just like non-vegan women, you should definitely be taking a Vitamin D supplement, as we rarely get enough sunshine in the UK to keep us topped up to a healthy level! Not all Vitamin D supplements are vegan-friendly, so it’s important that you read the label when choosing a brand. You are looking for the capsule shell to be made of vegetable cellulose, rather than an animal by-product. We love the Food Grown Vitamin D by Wild Nutrition.
Most traditional omega-3 supplements contain fish oil, but there is a vegan alternative. Microalgae oil is a totally plant-based version of omega 3 oil – but wit no cruelty involved. There are plenty out there, but one of the most recommended is Nothing Fishy. It’s a little bit more expensive than regular supplements, but worth it if you want to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need.
Vitamin B-12 is another very important supplement for vegans to take – whether you are trying to conceive or not. The vitamin is not produced by plants at all, so the only way you can get it is through fortified foods or supplements. The Vegan Society recommends that you take at least 10mcg a day, to make sure that you are getting what you need. They have developed their own supplement, VEG 1 that includes B-12, Vitamin D, Iodine and Selenium. Iodine plays a role in foetal development and as it’s mainly found in seafood and dairy, many vegans experience a deficiency – so this supplement is great!
Check-in with your doctor
As always, if you are making extreme changes to your diet or are concerned about getting the vitamins you need – always speak to your GP or a professional nutritionist. If you want t do this from the comfort of your own home, join Adia for free today! You’ll be able to access our panel of women’s health experts, as well as nutrition plans and guided meditations!