Breastmilk from parents following a vegan diet has been found to contain two crucial nutrients, carnitine and vitamin B2, according to a recent study presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. The findings challenge previous assumptions about the nutritional completeness of vegan diets and address concerns about potential deficiencies in breastfed infants of vegan parents.
Carnitine and vitamin B2 are typically found in animal products such as meat and cow's milk. Vitamin B2 deficiency in infants can lead to anemia and neurological problems, while carnitine shortages may result in low blood sugar, as well as heart and brain dysfunction. Despite these concerns, the study suggests that a vegan diet in lactating parents does not increase the risk of vitamin B2 or carnitine deficiency in breastfed infants.
The results provide assurance that a well-planned vegan diet can adequately fulfill the nutritional needs of both mothers and infants.
Experts agree that it is possible to maintain a nutritionally-balanced pregnancy while adhering to a vegan diet. Additionally, vegan breastfeeding mothers may consider taking supplements to ensure they meet the necessary nutrient requirements typically found in animal products.
Experts recommend a diverse and varied diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and fortified grains to obtain sufficient vitamin B2 from a vegetarian or vegan diet. Supplementation may be necessary if dietary intake alone is insufficient.
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