Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

Reed Mangels on Folic Acid vs. Food Folate in Pregnancy

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Folic Acid in Pregnancy


“Bottom line (my opinion): We don’t have enough information to recommend food folate in place of folic acid to reduce risk of neural tube defects. Based on what we know now, the benefits of folic acid supplements prior to conception and during pregnancy outweigh the risks.”

Last Call for Survey on Vegan Pregnancy

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

From Raveem Ismail:

Dear All.

We are looking for final responses to our medical research on Group B streptococcal carriage in vegans during pregnancy. Please complete the survey on and feel free to share the link!

Regards and thanks.

Dr Mark Anthony. Consultant Neonatologist.
Dr Abdul Ismail. FY2 Pediatrics.
Raveem Ismail. Analyst, Trinakria Limited.

Survey Regarding Vegan Pregnancy

Monday, February 27th, 2012

From Raveem Ismail:

Dear Vegan Advocates

If you could please fill in our survey, the anonymised results will contribute towards the medical research effort detailed below. The survey is at and we would encourage you to share the link.

We are carrying out research on Group B streptococcal carriage in vegans during pregnancy. This is an intestinal bacterium, normally harmless, but capable of infecting an unborn baby (for example, 1 in 2,000 UK births have a proven GBS infection). With some weak evidence suggesting a dietary link to GBS, the aim is to ascertain whether Vegan women acquire GBS to the same extent as non-Vegans.

Dr Mark Anthony. Consultant Neonatologist.
Dr Abdul Ismail. FY2 Pediatrics.
Raveem Ismail. Analyst, Trinakria Limited.

The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Reed Mangels, PhD, RD is probably the world’s foremost expert on nutrition for vegan pregnancies. She has just written a new book, The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book. Ginny Messina reviews it here.

Vitamin B12 in Pregnancy, Miso, and Tempeh

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

B12 and Neural Tube Defects

An NIH news release today shows that low levels of vitamin B12 in pregnant women may increase the risk of neural tube defects. The authors conclude their paper by saying, “Our [analysis] suggests that women who start pregnancy with serum vitamin B12 concentrations below 300 [pg/ml] (221 pmol/L) are at significantly higher risk for [neural tube defects]. Improving B12 status beyond 300 [pg/ml] might offer further risk reduction but this is unclear.”

In my epic novel, Vitamin B12: Are You Getting It?, I recommend that all vegans keep their vitamin B12 levels at 350 pg/ml or higher (click here for that info, scroll to bottom of page). In order to do this, vegans should follow these recommendations.

And on this page, B12 and Chronic Disease: Homocysteine, I warn that low B12 levels could cause neural tube defects.

So, none of this is terribly new or surprising. And while the NIH news release did not mention vegans, it didn’t stop The Telegraph from writing headlines that make it sound like the study was performed on vegans and showed vegans to have higher rates of neural tube defects:

Vegan diet increases the risk of birth defects, scientists warn
“Women who are strict vegetarians or vegans may be a greater risk of having a child with birth defects because they are likely to be deficient in vitamin B12, researchers warned.”

The study confirms that it is important for vegan women who want to get pregnant to make sure they are following vitamin B12 recommendations. Luckily, I rarely come across a pregnant vegan who does not know the importance of making sure she is getting vitamin B12.

Tempeh & Miso

In somewhat related news, I picked up a professional-looking flyer promoting veganism the other day at a local vegetarian restaurant only to read in it that miso and tempeh have vitamin B12. On the bright side, at least they mentioned vitamin B12 and suggested supplements and fortified foods. However, the mold required to produce tempeh does not produce vitamin B12, so the only way B12 would be in tempeh is if it was contaminated with B12-producing bacteria, and in most cases it won’t be. Two studies have measured the vitamin B12 content of miso and have found none. More information can be found in B12 in Tempeh, Seaweeds, Organic Produce, and Other Plant Foods.

Vegan Pregnancy – Common Questions

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

A 15 year vegan recently wrote me concerned about whether a vegan diet was healthy during pregnancy. In her words, “Everything I have read says that getting the right nutrients is the most important thing you can do to ensure a healthy baby….Vegans (non-credentialed) are quick to tell me that everything will be fine…Non-vegans (Dr’s) are quick to tell me that my diet could be a problem.”

My (edited) response:

The most common nutrition concern is not having enough folate (or folic acid) at the time of conception and the first few weeks of pregnancy, but this is rarely a problem for vegans who normally get plenty of folate in their diet.

If you follow the guidelines here, you should be fine. I would especially recommend the article Pregnancy and the Vegan Diet by Reed Mangels that is linked from that page.

You should also check out this page of real vegan children.

The one exception is if the mother has neglected her own B12 intake for a long time before getting pregnant. Here is what you should know about B12.