February 23, 2024

Although a vegan diet has always been a healthy way to eat, some nutrients are difficult to obtain without consuming animal products. Research now finds that, in any case, two of them were born to vegan nursing mothers.

In a 2021 study, it was found that children raised on a vegan diet had better cardiovascular health than vegetarian and omnivorous children. However, the same study also showed that vegetarian children were on average an inch (3 centimeters) shorter than children in the other groups, and they were more likely to be deficient in vitamin B-12.

To further investigate vegan nutrition and its relationship to children, researchers at the University Medical Center Amsterdam conducted a study to examine the effects of a vegan diet on nursing mothers. Since vegan diets are often deficient in vitamin B2 and the metabolic compound carnitine, it was thought that these deficiencies would naturally occur in breast milk. However, this study does not support this idea. In fact, despite lower blood levels of vitamin B2 and carnitine in the vegan mothers studied, there was no difference in the nutrient supply in their breast milk compared with omnivorous mothers.

“Our results show that vitamin B2 and carnitine concentrations in breast milk are not affected by a vegan diet,” said lead researcher Hannah Junker. “These results suggest that a vegan diet of a nursing mother does not lead to vitamin B2 or carnitine deficiency in breastfed infants. This information is useful for breastfeeding mothers and for breast milk banks collecting breast milk to provide to infants. Not available Premature babies with enough breast milk.”

These findings should come as welcome comfort to nursing vegan moms, as these two nutrients are essential for babies to receive breast milk in the first few months of life. Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is found most in beef but is also found in fortified foods like tofu and vegetables like mushrooms, spinach and avocados. When a baby’s diet lacks it, anemia and neurological problems can develop.

Carnitine is involved in the process of converting fat into energy and is found most in beef, pork, chicken and fish. When lactating infants do not get enough of the compound, heart and brain dysfunction can occur, in addition to hypoglycemia. Low carnitine levels in later life have also been linked to depression.

The results of the study were published today in the 55th Annual Congress of the European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (ESPGHAN).

source: Amsterdam University Medical Center