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6 Key Nutrients for Vegetarians and Vegans


There are obvious benefits to having a vegetarian or vegan diet other than one’s moral standard of eating animals. Weight maintenance is easier, cholesterol control is much more manageable and you’re less apt to suffer from diabetes and heart disease. But a vegetarian or vegan diet can mean you’re missing some key nutrients that keeps your body balanced and well-tuned for optimum health. Here are some common nutritional shortcomings and how to overcome them.

  1. Vitamin B12 – B12 is primarily an animal sourced nutrient and is the number one supplement for vegans. Vitamin B12 is good for a whole host of body functions such as; immune function, brain health, cardiovascular health, metabolism and calcium absorption to name a few. Foods that carry a certain amount of Vitamin B12 is dairy (milk, cheese and yogurt), eggs, nondairy milk and cereals. If these foods aren’t part of your regular diet, supplementation should be considered. We carry a sublingual Vitamin B12 that absorbs quickly.
  2. Omega 3 Fatty AcidsOmega 3s primary source comes from fish and unlike Omega 6 and 9, it is not naturally produced by the body. Omega 3 is considered by many to be as important as a well-rounded multivitamin. It’s great for your joints, blood, brain, skin, hair and even insulin. Chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts are decent vegetarian sources and despite what you might’ve heard, tofu and soybeans are not. They just lack the potency. Flax Seed Oil is an excellent supplement for a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
  3. Calcium – This pertains more to vegans, who do not consume dairy products, more than vegetarians. Healthy calcium levels become more and more important as we age. Calcium is not just for healthy bones. It’s the most abundant mineral in our body and it assists in the transmission of nerve impulses, promotes healthy blood clotting and assists in the production of hormones. Nondairy foods to consider are collards, kale and broccoli. Strangely enough, spinach is not a source of absorbable calcium. The recommended daily consumption is 1000 mg. Calcium is definitely a supplement vegans, vegetarians and even meat eaters should consider.
  4. Iron – There are two forms of iron: heme and non-heme. Heme Iron is the better absorbed iron and it’s mostly found in meats. The iron in vegetables are almost entirely non-heme. That doesn’t mean non-heme iron can’t be absorbed. It’s just less likely. Foods rich in vitamin C will help the absorption of veggies rich in non-heme iron if you insist in not supplementing.
  5. Protein – The first question most carnivores ask their veggie friends is where they get their protein. This is a laughable question to most veteran vegetarians but to the newbie, it’s good to know your alternative sources of protein. There are many but the top sources are chia seeds, soy beans, spinach, quinoa and beans. Eggs are the obvious source for the vegetarian. Not so much for the vegan.
  6. Vitamin D – And why not? It’s truly the best vitamin in the cosmos. If you get plenty of sun, then you need not worry. If you live in a cubicle like so many do, supplementing Vitamin D should be considered. But this poses a new problem for vegans. Most vitamin D supplements are Vitamin D3 which is derived from an animal source. Vitamin D2 is a source preferred by diehard vegans since it’s non-animal sourced but it’s derived by radiating fungus. It gets worse. Vitamin D2 is half the potency yet has more toxicity. Unlike Vitamin D3, it is foreign to the human body. In Fact, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes that vitamin D2 should no longer be regarded as a nutrient appropriate for supplementation or fortification of foods. So all you vegans out there, go enjoy the outdoors sunblock free. But don’t get sunburned. That is not fun!

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