Ensuring You Get Essential Vitamins with a Vegan Diet
You may be considering switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet, but are concerned about getting everything you need to stay healthy. While there are a lot of essential vitamins and minerals in animal products, these vital nutrients are available in vegan diets as well. There’s no need to take extra supplements everyday; simply eat the right foods to provide you will a healthy, well rounded diet. Here are some of the major nutrients a vegan diet might be missing and non-animal sources for them.
Iron. It is especially important to get iron in your diet if you are a menstruating woman, because it is often lost during your period. There are many options for getting iron including sea vegetables, legumes, soy, raisins, figs, and broccoli. You may also consider eating a fortified breakfast cereal; these have extra iron added. You should also be sure to get adequate vitamin C so the iron is absorbed.
Calcium. Contrary to what the dairy industry wants you to believe, you do not have to drink milk to get enough calcium in your diet. Many green leafy vegetables are great sources of calcium. Soy products, such as fortified soy milk and tofu, are good calcium sources as well. You can also find orange juice on the market that has added calcium. Protein. While meat and eggs are the best way to get protein, you can still build strong muscles by finding protein in other foods. Soy products, nuts and nut butter, seeds, beans, grains, and vegetables all contain protein. You should eat a variety of these foods for optimum health. Vitamin D. This nutrient is essential for proper absorption of calcium. The best way to get it without drinking milk is from good old sunshine. You don’t need to go tanning, just take a daily walk or do some reading outdoors. If you don’t want to go to a tanning salon during the winter, you can try some fortified soy milk or breakfast cereals.
Vitamin B12. This is one of the harder nutrients to get in a vegan diet because there are no non-animal natural sources. Fortified soy milk and cereals have added B12, but you may still need a daily supplement.
Zinc. This nutrient is usually found in milk products, but is also available from soy products, dried beans, and nuts. You can also find zinc in fortified breakfast cereals.
Remember, while you can get nutrients from supplements, fortified cereals, and other unnatural sources; the best way to get nutrients is naturally. Try to incorporate as many natural nutrient sources as you can into your diet for a healthy animal product free life.