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Nutrients Vegetarians and Vegans Need Most


By , Staff Writer
Monday, February 4, 2013
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Many people are making the switch to live a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, especially with recent health findings. A new British study conducted at the University of Oxford found a vegetarian may have about a third less risk of hospitalization or death from cardiovascular disease compared to someone who regularly consumes meat.

While you may feel making the switch to an animal product-free life may be making you healthier, be sure you're getting enough of the following nutrients in your diet:

Protein
Proteins are necessary for the building and repairing of body tissues. If you're avoiding animal protein, beans like lentils and tofu (produced from soybeans) are all vegetarian friendly and can give your body a healthy dose of protein. Those who want a supplement can try adding whey or pea protein powder to a fruit smoothie. The average person should eat around 65 g of protein per day.

Iron
Iron (as the protein hemoglobin) is responsible for carrying oxygen from your lungs throughout your body. Good vegetarian sources of iron include dried fruits, cashews, mushrooms and tofu. If you choose to take an iron supplement, take it with a vitamin C supplement as vitamin C aids in iron absorption. Women should receive about 18 mg of iron per day while men need about half of that (8 to 9 mgs). Women should be sure to check with their doctor first before adding supplemental iron.

Calcium
Calcium is essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones as well as preventing the onset of osteoporosis. Many vegans don't receive an adequate amount of calcium in their diets since they avoid dairy. Some good sources of calcium are kale, orange juice and soy milk. The average person needs from 1,000 to 1,500 mgs of calcium per day.

Vitamin B12
B vitamins are crucial for energy conversion and the prevention of certain forms of anemia. B12 is typically found in abundance as milk, eggs, yogurt and cheese, which are staples of a typical or vegetarian diet. For vegans, consuming enough vitamin B12 may be difficult as, outside of soy milk, not many foods in their diet contain B12. Many vegetarians resort to supplements for their vitamin B12 needs. Brewer’s yeast, chlorella and spirulina are the best natural sources of vitamin B12 which can be added to the body.

Vitamin D
Vitamin D provides two services to your body -- absorbing calcium and regulating the amount of calcium and phosphorus in your blood. Your body produces vitamin D naturally from exposure to sunlight, but sun exposure can be limited by weather, sunscreen and where you live. You can find fortified foods like soy milk and cereal or try a supplement. The Food and Nutrition Board recommends males and females ages 14 to 50 to consume 5 mcg per day of vitamin D, adults ages 51 to 70 to consume 10 mcg per day and adults over age 70 to consume 15 mcg per day.

Omega- 3 Fatty Acids
Studies show omega- 3 fatty acids aid in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Most people get their omega-3s from either fish or eggs, but avocados, seeds and nuts are also good options. A 2010 study from the United Kingdom showed vegans who didn't supplement their diets had almost nonexistent levels of omega-3 in their body. Flax seed oil and other forms of supplements are the easiest way to ensure you receive proper levels of omega-3s.

Zinc
Zinc is needed by the body for more than 50 different enzymes as it helps detoxify the body, build and repair cells and tissues, digest food and balance blood sugar. While zinc is found in an abundance of plant foods such as wheat germ, nuts and tahini, zinc absorption can be low. Aside from taking a supplement, a good bet for maintaining proper zinc levels is fortified cereal. The recommended daily intakes of zinc would be 16.5 mg for men and 12 mg for women.

Going vegetarian or vegan can have wondrous effects on your overall health, just be sure to supplement your diet with the essential vitamins you may be lacking. The levels of these vitamins and nutrients in your diet may vary from person to person, so consult your doctor to determine the proper amounts for you. If you need to add more to your diet, all of them are available in supplement form.

For all of your supplement needs, explore the wide variety of vegetarian and vegan-friendly products available from eVitamins!


Products you may like:

Nature's Life Healthy Veg Protein Vanilla Bean Nature's Life Healthy Veg Protein Vanilla Bean
Why you may like this product? Each serving contains 22 g of vegetable-source protein that's all natural and great tasting. This powder is also a great source of fiber and contains all eight essential amino acids.
VegLife Vegan One Multiple With Iron VegLife Vegan One Multiple With Iron
Why you may like this product? This supplement offers a complete multivitamin without the use of any animal by-products. This formula contains more than 15 vitamins, minerals and nutrients essential to daily life.
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