Study Warns of Nutrient Deficiency Risks for Women on Plant-Based Diets During Pregnancy

Study Warns of Nutrient Deficiency Risks for Women on Plant-Based Diets During Pregnancy


A recent study suggests that women embracing vegetarian or vegan diets may face challenges in obtaining essential nutrients crucial for a healthy pregnancy.

As plant-based diets become more popular, researchers raise concerns about potential nutrient deficiencies affecting maternal health.

Nutrient Analysis:

study focused on identifying deficiencies in vital vitamins commonly found in meat and dairy products, such as D, B12, B6, folic acid, and riboflavin. These nutrients play a crucial role in preventing birth defects and ensuring the overall health of both mothers and babies during pregnancy.

Alarming Deficiency Rates:

The research revealed that over 90% of the participants exhibited marginal or low concentrations of one or more essential vitamins.

Late pregnancy stages saw markers of B6 deficiency, emphasizing the potential risks associated with inadequate nutrient intake during crucial phases of fetal development.

Impact of Dietary Choices:

Keith Godfrey, the lead author of the study, highlighted the implications of reducing meat and dairy consumption for achieving carbon neutrality.

The study suggests that advocating for less nutrient-dense diets may further deplete expecting mothers of vital nutrients, potentially impacting the health of unborn children.

Supplementation Insights:

The study involved two groups, both receiving supplements, with variations in their composition. The control group’s supplement included additional vitamins like B6, B12, D, and riboflavin. Blood samples collected throughout different pregnancy stages showed that supplement availability significantly reduced the prevalence of deficiencies.

Reassessing Dietary Recommendations:

Researchers concluded by emphasizing the need to reassess dietary recommendations for preconception and pregnancy, particularly in the context of increasing advocacy for less nutrient-dense diets. The study suggests exploring the role of multiple micronutrient supplements, especially for women in higher-income countries.

Public Health Implications:

The findings prompt a critical examination of the changing dietary landscape and its potential impact on maternal and child health.

As the world witnesses a shift towards plant-based diets, especially in higher-income nations, addressing nutrient deficiencies becomes crucial for public health.

Expert Opinion:

Professor Ian Givens, director of the Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health at the University of Reading, commended the timeliness of the study.

He highlighted the necessity for reevaluating dietary provisions of key nutrients before and during pregnancy, particularly in the context of transitioning towards plant-based diets.


The study’s findings, published in PLOS Medicine, underline the pressing need for awareness and proactive measures to ensure optimal nutrition for women during pregnancy, particularly as dietary preferences evolve.