Countless studies suggest that a vegan diet is more optimal and sustainable for the planet but there are some nutrients that vegans need to be cautious about.
Veganism has been on the rise worldwide and especially in the UK where an estimated 600,000 are no longer consuming any animal products.
There are obvious environmental and health benefits of a vegan lifestyle but is it easy to get all the nutrients from a vegan diet? This is a pressing question for newly turned vegans and for people considering veganism.
The truth is it can be a little difficult to get all the necessary nutrients on a vegan diet. Vegans must be educated and aware enough to make sure they have all the nutrients in place to live a healthy life.
This does not mean you should not be a vegan. Veganism has immense health benefits especially when you are consuming an optimal diet. If you’re aware of what nutrients you could be lacking, you can supplement your diet to ensure those needs are taken care of.
Here is a list of 5 nutrients you need to especially take care of on a vegan diet.
Studies suggest that vegans are at a higher risk of having a B12 deficiency because it is naturally found in animal products only. B12 is essential for the production of red blood cells and protein metabolism. It is one of the hardest nutrients to get on a vegan diet. Therefore, it is recommended to take a B12 supplement along with your diet to ensure that its requirement is taken care of.
Iron is needed to carry oxygen in the blood and to make new DNA and red blood cells. It is also required for energy metabolism which is why lack of Iron in the body may cause fatigue. It is recommended that vegans eat a diet containing rich in iron like cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, peas, beans, nuts, and seeds. Vitamin C boosts iron absorption and eating plenty of vitamin C rich foods like peppers, citrus fruits, and broccoli are recommended too. This should take care of the body’s iron requirement. However, if you are struggling, taking an iron supplement could be a good idea.
Calcium is important for bone building and vegans must find alternate sources to supplement the nutrient. Good plant sources of calcium include kale, bok choy, broccoli, chickpeas, and fortified plant-milks. If these foods are not taken on a daily basis then taking a calcium supplement could be considered.
There are three main kinds of omega-3s: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The problem with seeds and nuts is that they contain only ALA which is then converted into EPA and DHA. But only a small proportion is converted – between 5-10% of ALA converted to EPA and 2-5% to DHA. Plant sources of omega 3 include flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts so it’s beneficial including them in your diet.
Vegans and non-vegans both risk vitamin D deficiency. The biggest source of Vitamin D is the sun when our skin is exposed to it but many argue the presence of UV rays could be a problem with too much sunlight exposure. Since the best food sources are fatty fish, beef liver, eggs, and cheese, vegans are amongst the most likely to need a supplement.
Whether you’re a vegan or a non-vegan, it is important to consume a well-balanced diet to ensure your health operates at an optimal level.
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