5 Nutrients that Vegans Need More Than Average Joe
While veganism certainly offers a bounty of dietary benefits to those that partake, it does leave behind a few nutritional requirements that need addressing prior to an undertaking by a prospective convert. Truly strict dietary requirements, such as those followed by vegans that also avoid soy, gluten, and cooked foods, can still manage to include all of the problematic nutrients – but proper planning is key.
- B12 – Nutrition requirements are generally met by omnivores through the consumption of animal fat, though the weekly recommended dosage has increased over the last ten years. Supplementing B12 can become futile if one is taking pills as B12 tends to pass through the system quickly. Regular shots are often recommended to maintain sufficient, long-lasting results. Otherwise, a sublingual is sufficient.
- Iron – Can be a problem amongst vegetarian/vegan females given the amount of iron that leaves the body during the monthly menstrual cycle. Partaking in red meat is the most common way to keep levels up, though in the case of women, a multivitamin that contains a very small amount of iron, or simply occasionally taking an iron supplement can help vegetarians and vegans avoid iron deficiency. A few vegan-friendly foods that contain iron are: Lentils, quinoa, brown rice, pistachios, cashews, and prunes.
- Calcium – Problematic amongst a variety of diets, and part of why the “Got Milk?” campaign exists as it does. There are many excellent sources of calcium that are vegan-friendly: Almond milk, hemp milk, kale, and soy beans.
- Vitamin D – Another cross-platform dietary issue, with several vegan-friendly solutions including maitake and portabella mushrooms, along with soy beans.
- Protein – One of the three macronutrients that makes up what we eat (the others being fats and carbohydrates). Alternative protein sources are often the most difficult adjustments for newly-crowned vegetarians and vegans. Luckily, there are many options that can fit into almost any diet: Beans (black, red, garbanzo, kidney), nuts (pistachios, cashews, almonds), quinoa, soybeans, avocado, and a great variety of protein powders.