Discussions about vegetarian and vegan diets are often heard in society – does it provide the human body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs? We will try to find out.
www.healthline.com lists 7 nutrients you may need on a plant-based diet. We quote:
Foods rich in vitamin B12 include unwashed organic products: mushrooms grown in vitamin B12-rich soil, spirulina, chlorella, and nutritional yeast.
Vitamin B12 is important for many processes in the body, including protein metabolism and the formation of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. It also plays a crucial role in the health of your nervous system. The recommended daily intake is 2.4 micrograms per day for adults, 2.6 micrograms per day during pregnancy and 2.8 micrograms per day during breastfeeding.
It is very important that all vegans get enough vitamin B12. The only reliable way to achieve this is to eat fortified foods or take vitamin B12 supplements.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps improve the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from the intestines. This vitamin also affects many other processes in the body, including immune function, mood, memory, and muscle recovery.
The best way for vegans to make sure they are getting enough vitamin D is to get their blood levels tested. Those who cannot get enough fortified foods and sunlight should consider taking a daily vitamin D2 or vegan vitamin D3 supplement. You can find our vitamin D supplements here.
Iron is a nutrient used to make new DNA and red blood cells, as well as carry oxygen in the blood. It is also needed for energy metabolism. Too little iron can cause anemia and symptoms such as fatigue or weakened immune function.
Iron can exist in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme iron can only be obtained from animal products, non-heme iron is found in plants. Vegans who have low iron intake should eat more iron-rich foods such as cruciferous vegetables, beans, peas, dried fruit, nuts and seeds. If you know you’re not getting enough iron from your diet, it’s worth considering taking iron supplements in moderation.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be divided into two categories:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the only essential omega-3 fatty acid. This means that you can only get it with food.
- Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids: This category includes eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They are not considered essential because the human body can make them from ALA.
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in your brain and eyes. Adequate levels of nutrition are also important for brain development and reducing the risk of inflammation, depression, breast cancer, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Plants high in ALA include flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and soybeans. EPA and DHA are mainly found in animal products such as fatty fish and fish oil.
Vegans tend to have lower blood and tissue levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.
Calcium is a mineral that is essential for good bone and tooth health. It also affects muscle function, nerve signals, and heart health. Plant-based sources of calcium include bok choy, kale, mustard greens, turnips, watercress, broccoli, chickpeas, calcium-rich tofu, and fortified plant-based milk and juices.
Vegans who consume too little calcium should consider taking a daily calcium supplement.
Zinc is a mineral that is very important for metabolism, immune function, and cell repair in the body. Insufficient zinc can cause developmental problems, hair loss, diarrhea, and delayed wound healing.
Currently, the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for zinc in adults is 8-11 mg per day. For pregnant women, it increases to 11-12 mg, and for lactating women 12-13 mg.
To increase your zinc intake, eat a variety of zinc-rich foods throughout the day. These include grains, wheat germ, tofu, sprouted bread, legumes, nuts and seeds.
People with low levels of zinc in their blood should consider taking daily zinc supplements.
Sufficient iodine is essential for healthy thyroid function, which controls a person’s metabolism. Iodine deficiency can cause a variety of symptoms such as low energy levels, dry skin, tingling in the hands and feet, forgetfulness, depression and weight gain. The amount of iodine in plant foods depends on the amount of iodine in the soil in which they were grown. For example, food grown near the ocean tends to have more iodine.
Vegans who do not get enough iodine from seaweed or iodized salt should consider taking iodine supplements.
Do vegetarians get all the substances the body needs?
In summary, a balanced vegetarian or vegan diet can meet a person’s nutritional needs. However, obtaining certain nutrients from food alone is difficult. In this case, it is worth adding supplements to your daily diet that will help maintain the smooth functioning of the body.