Being a vegan, what nutrients do you need?
What nutrients do you need and how much?
- 10 years agoFavorite Answer
According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), "well-planned vegan and other types of vegetarian diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including during pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence."
Vegetarian diets offer a number of advantages, says the ADA, including lower levels of total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and higher levels of fiber, magnesium, potassium, folate, and antioxidants. As a result, the health benefits of a vegetarian diet may include the prevention of certain diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
But any restrictive diet can make it more difficult to get all the nutrients your body needs. A vegan diet eliminates food sources of vitamin B-12, which is found almost exclusively in animal products, including milk, eggs, and cheese. A vegan diet also eliminates milk products, which are good sources of calcium.
To ensure that "well-planned" diet, vegans must find alternative sources for B-12 and calcium, as well as vitamin D, protein, iron, zinc, and occasionally riboflavin.
Vitamin B-12. Vegans can get vitamin B-12, needed to produce red blood cells and maintain normal nerve function, from enriched breakfast cereals, fortified soy products, nutritional yeast, or supplements.
Calcium. We all need calcium for strong teeth and bones. You can get calcium from dark green vegetables (spinach, bok choy, broccoli, collards, kale, turnip greens), sesame seeds, almonds, red and white beans, soy foods, dried figs, blackstrap molasses, and calcium-fortified foods like fruit juices and breakfast cereals.
Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium and is synthesized by exposing skin to sunlight. But vitamin D deficiency can occur, especially if you don't spend a lot of time outside. Vitamin D is not found in most commonly eaten plant foods; best dietary sources are fortified dairy products. Vegans can also get vitamin D from fortified foods, including vitamin D-fortified soy milk or rice milk.
Protein. Not getting enough protein is a concern when switching to a vegetarian diet. Protein needs can be met while following a vegan diet if you consume adequate calories and eat a variety of plant foods, including good plant sources of protein such as soy, other legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Iron. Iron from plant sources is less easily absorbed than iron in meat. This lower bioavailability means that iron intake for vegetarians should be higher than the RDA for nonvegetarians. Vegetarian food sources of iron include soy foods like soybeans, tempeh, and tofu; legumes like lentils and chickpeas; and fortified cereals. Iron absorption is enhanced by vitamin C.
Zinc. Zinc plays a role in many key body functions, including immune system response, so it's important to get enough of it, which vegans can do by eating nuts, legumes, miso and other soy products, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, tahini, wheat germ, and whole-grain breads and cereals.
Riboflavin. This B vitamin, which is important for growth and red blood cell production, can be found in almonds, mushrooms, broccoli, figs, sweet potatoes, soybeans, wheat germ, and fortified cereals and enriched bread.
- AllysonLv 44 years ago
Hi No! Won't be lacking anything!!! Just don't eat only salads and "vegan processed food". Eat as much and as varied as you like: grains: wheat, barley, rye, rice; beans (all kinds), nuts, veggies & fruits. Becoming a vegan you'll assimilate lots more nutrients because dairy interferes with the process. Besides it's toxic. Same goes for eggs. So far from LACKING anything, you'll be having MORE than you do now. Enjoy!! ☺ ps don' worry about the thumbs down, there are some people who have nothing better to do than to TD any and all Q's and A's about vegetarianism, & veganism. Poor things...
- AndromacheLv 610 years ago
Same nutrients as everyone else, of course! But don't worry, they can all be found in in plant products.
The Vegan Society section of nutrition is very useful:
Go to the list in the left-hand menu. It will tell you everything you need to know about vegan nutrition.
- CLv 610 years ago
The same nutrients as if you were an omnivore.
The only question is where you get them from.
Hope that helps!
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- Anonymous10 years ago
protein, oh wait. I forgot, you're a hippie.