What Supplements Do Vegetarians Need?
Meat-free diets can be healthy and nutritionally sound; however, it’s still essential that they contain enough calcium, vitamin B12, iron and zinc in their diet to prevent anemia, muscle weakness and numbness that could result from lacking these key vitamins and minerals.
Calcium-rich foods include tofu, edamame, tempeh and veggie burgers as well as beans, dark leafy greens, dairy products and fortified breakfast cereals. Eggs, enriched bread, fortified breakfast cereals and dark leafy vegetables also provide ample amounts of this mineral.
Vegans and vegetarians can often meet their nutritional requirements through eating a balanced diet and, when necessary, taking supplements. Most essential nutrients, like calcium, protein, Vitamin D & B12, Omega 3s, Iron Iodine Zinc can easily be obtained by consuming plant-based foods or fortified ones.
Calcium is an essential nutrient for bone health. Additionally, calcium plays a vital role in muscle function, nerve signaling, and cardiovascular wellness. Adults should strive to get 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day from sources like dairy products (including fortified soy milk and cheese), tofu, nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens such as turnip greens, mustard greens, bok choy gai choy collard greens and kale as well as fortified juice and cereals.
People of all diets often do not get enough protein in their diets, including meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Vegetarians or vegans should focus on increasing consumption of plant-based proteins like legumes (beans and lentils), tofu, tempeh, soy products, quinoa amaranth chia seeds as sources for additional plant protein sources. Other good sources include whole grains nut butters and eggs.
Iodine is essential to thyroid function, yet obtaining sufficient levels can be challenging for vegetarians and vegans. You can get enough iodine through ocean-grown seaweed, iodized salt, table salt, dairy products that contain solutions used to clean cows and farm equipment and cheese as well as dairy products that pick up iodine from solutions used for cleaning purposes – it is best to consume these foods on a regular basis to ensure adequate levels of iodine intake.
Zinc is a vital nutrient essential to immune health, cell metabolism, and tissue repair. It is found in animal products as well as plant-based foods; however, the form found naturally in plants may be harder for our bodies to absorb than that present in meat or poultry products.
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient to maintaining strong bones and teeth. Additionally, it plays a critical role in immune system health as well as absorption of calcium and phosphorous from our food supply. Adults should aim to consume 600 IU per day through exposure to sunlight, consumption of fortified milk/cereal products or supplementation.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning its absorption depends on fatty acids consumed through diet or supplements. Vegans can get their required amount of Vitamin D through fortified food sources or supplements; however, avoiding animal products like milk and eggs could limit how much can be ingested each day.
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 400 International Units per day, but this may differ based on age and health status. Vitamin D plays an essential role in bone strength, immunity and cell development but too much vitamin D could be harmful. Therefore it’s wise to consult your physician regarding a blood test to assess your specific requirements for taking additional supplementation with this essential nutrient.
Protein is essential to building and repairing muscles and tissues, so vegetarians and vegans must consume plenty of it. Protein-rich foods include tofu, tempeh, edamame beans and other legumes, seeds nuts and higher-protein whole grains.
Iron is an essential nutrient for adults of all backgrounds – vegetarians and vegans alike. Iron helps deliver oxygen to cells while producing certain hormones; low levels can cause fatigue and shortness of breath. Luckily, meeting your Recommended Dietary Allowance of iron is easy by eating food sources rich in this mineral.
Zinc is an essential mineral, vital for immune function and cell development. Additionally, it aids digestion and speeds wound healing – any deficiency can lead to nausea, diarrhea and hair loss – making dietary sources such as seafood or meat easier ways to obtain adequate amounts. Vegans and vegetarians may have trouble meeting their recommended zinc consumption due to these foods’ higher concentration of heme iron than non-heme iron found in plants.
Diet is often the best way to obtain most vitamins and minerals, but sometimes this is not possible. Vegetarians and vegans who are concerned about meeting their nutritional requirements should speak with a registered dietitian in order to design an ideal meal plan and find out about any recommended supplemental nutrients that would fit into a meat-free diet such as folate, omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA), calcium or zinc supplements that might be safe to take as supplements.
Iron is an essential mineral used to transport oxygen through your blood. Additionally, it plays an essential role in making specific hormones and aids brain development in children. While meat eaters and vegetarians can easily get enough iron from their diets, vegans must consume nearly twice the amount due to difficulty digesting plant-based iron (nonheme iron). Certain factors, including phytates and polyphenols found in plant foods, can hamper iron absorption. Eating a variety of iron-rich foods – legumes, dark leafy greens, fortified products – such as legumes, dark leafy greens and fortified products can help increase body intake of nonheme iron. Pairing such dishes with vitamin C-rich food (like pairing a spinach salad with an orange) can further amplify this effect.
Vegetarians should strive to meet their iron requirements through a combination of whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds as these sources contain nonheme iron enriched sources that should provide sufficient nutritional benefits. It’s essential that labels be reviewed in order to make sure that dietary intake meets requirements.
This vegan multivitamin provides 18mg of non-GMO chelated iron (ferrous bisglycinate) and 50mg of whole food vitamin C from Acerola cherry to improve absorption of nonheme iron in pregnant and breastfeeding women. Additionally, this multivitamin may help provide essential folic acid. It’s an ideal supplement choice.
Zinc, which plays an essential role in hundreds of cellular processes such as immunity, metabolism and protein synthesis is often lacking in vegetarian diets; however, luckily there are numerous zinc-rich plant foods that vegetarians can incorporate into their diet to replenish this deficiency.
Zinc supplements may not typically be necessary for those eating vegetarian diets, but if your daily zinc requirements can’t be met through dietary sources alone it may be worthwhile trying a supplement like BetterYou’s 25mg zinc in an easily digestible form that won’t cause nausea or constipation. Plus it includes vitamin C, folate, and B12 from cyanocobalamin to support digestion and absorption!
Zinc is an essential nutrient found in animal foods as well as protein-rich plant-based foods like beans and nuts. Consuming enough zinc is crucial, since it plays an essential role in many bodily processes such as cell division and reproduction, processing nutrients, wound healing, maintaining vision health and maintaining eye health. Furthermore, zinc plays an essential role in keeping your immune system strong – helping you fight off colds as a preventive measure!
Zinc can usually be obtained easily in a vegetarian diet, provided it’s planned properly. One consideration, though, should be made regarding certain plant foods that contain phytates that inhibit absorption by your body – for this reason it’s beneficial to use methods like fermenting or leavening whole grains, soaking and sprouting beans and legumes before cooking, heating and toasting seeds and nuts before eating as this will reduce the amount of phytic acid present in them.
As vegetarians do not require calcium and zinc supplements in specific quantities, vegetarians do not necessarily require additional supplements beyond these two. However, if certain vitamins and minerals are deficient in your diet, taking additional supplements could be an option to fill any gaps that exist – just be sure that all labels on your supplements indicate they do not contain additives or animal products.
GIVOL makes an excellent plant-based and vegan supplement with zinc that’s easy to take. Made in the US and available as liquid form for easy consumption. Their label clearly states they adhere to GMP compliant facilities in production as well as being gluten free and soy free.
Though some minerals may be less readily available from plant foods, vegetarian and vegan diets can provide all of the nutrition required for good health and strength. By including fortified foods, plenty of leafy greens, seafood or dairy into your diet as well as supplements if necessary – be sure to consult with your physician first if taking medication or have health concerns!