What extra precautions should vegetarian mothers take?
Vegetarian diets have been found to be very low or non-existent in DHA. One study by Dr. S. Reddy at the King's College London found that vegetarians give birth to infants with less DHA, although this did not directly affect the birth-weight or size of the child. Another study by Dr. T. Sanders at the University of London found that babies breast fed by vegan mothers had 1.9% DHA in their red-blood cells, compared to 6.2% in babies with non-vegetarian mothers. In light of this, DHA supplementation for vegetarian mothers seems justified.
To examine the effectiveness of DHA supplementation in vegetarians, Dr. J. Conquer at the University of Guelph, Canada, gave twenty-four healthy vegetarians DHA (1.62 g/day) for 6 weeks. He reported a 246% increase in blood DHA levels and a 225% increase in DHA levels in a certain kind of blood cell, the platelets, which help form blood clots. (Incidentally, the source of DHA in this study was algae, a marine vegetable, so the participants could maintain their vegetarianism.)
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