Tips To Get All Your Nutrients on a Plant-Based Diet

To function effectively, the human body requires a variety of nutrients, including carbs, protein, fat, 13 vitamins, and numerous minerals. Some of them we may manufacture ourselves, while others we must receive from the outside world (AKA food, the sun, supplements, etc.).

The good news is that you can acquire all of the nutrients you require as a vegan. And, sure, you can do it on a shoestring budget! It only takes basic meal preparation skills, planning, and nutrition awareness. The information below is by no means exhaustive, but it does cover many important nutrients, what they do, and where to find them.

Contact a vegan registered dietitian nutritionist for personalized nutrition advice!

  • Protein

Most vegetarians and vegans consume enough protein to meet or surpass their needs. To meet your protein needs, include protein-rich foods like legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy in your meals and snacks throughout the day. Protein is also found in whole grains and vegetables such as spinach and peas, which offer diversity to your diet.

  • Iron

This critical nutrient is required for various bodily processes, including the transfer of oxygen within red blood cells. Iron is divided into two types: heme iron, which is found in meat, and nonheme iron, which is found in plants.

The body does not absorb nonheme iron as well as heme iron. Despite their lower iron absorption, most vegetarians obtain enough iron. Furthermore, meat’s heme iron has been related to an increased risk of heart disease2, cancer3, and diabetes4. The nonheme iron available in a plant-based diet does not affect the risk of these diseases. Many chronic diseases can be prevented by eating a plant-based diet.

You can boost iron absorption by eating foods high in vitamin C with your meals, drinking coffee/tea, or taking calcium supplements.

  • Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant

When it comes to vitamin C consumption, vegetarians outnumber non-vegetarians. This is because vegetarians consume more fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C and other beneficial elements.

Vitamin C is significant for vegetarians since it aids in absorbing nonheme iron, which can be present in plant-based meals. Red peppers, kale, spinach, papaya, and oranges are just a few examples of vitamin C-rich foods.

  • Calcium

Calcium is abundant in dairy foods. However, there are additional plant-based calcium sources. Plant-based calcium sources include kale, broccoli, black beans, almonds, and almond butter. In addition, calcium is added to some fortified products during manufacturing, such as non-dairy milk, orange juice, and some breakfast cereals. Another option to get calcium into your diet is to eat tofu that has been set with calcium salts.

  • Zinc

This mineral is necessary for immunological function, wound healing, and growth in children. Because zinc is not stored in great quantities in the body, it is critical to consume enough levels daily. Zinc is abundant in grains and legumes. They do, however, contain phytates, which can interfere with iron absorption. Zinc absorption can be improved by soaking legumes and sprouting grains.

  • Vitamin B-12 (cobalamin)

This vitamin isn’t found in many plant foods. So vegans should either eat foods enriched with vitamin B-12 or consult their doctor about taking a supplement. Nutritional yeast, morning cereals, meat alternatives, and non-dairy milk are some of the foods fortified with vitamin B-12. Make sure the product is fortified by checking the label!

  • Fatty Acids Omega-3

Because your body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids, they are considered essential and must be obtained through food. Omega-3 fatty acids are divided into three categories:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (ALA)

Because EPA and DHA are mostly found in cold-water fish, we’ll concentrate on ALA, which can be found in various plant sources. Although our bodies convert ALA to EPA and DHA, the process is inefficient. Omega-3 fatty acid levels can be improved by eating seeds (chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, hempseeds, and hempseed oil) and walnuts daily.

  • Vitamin D is an important nutrient

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that aids in absorbing calcium in our bodies. Whether vegan or not, many people require vitamin D supplements.

When your skin is exposed to direct sunshine, your body can produce vitamin D, but there are so many variables that it’s better to rely on fortified foods and supplements.

Keep in mind that most vitamin D in fortified meals and supplements comes from animal sources. Verify if the vitamin D comes from a plant source, such as lichen, by reading the label.

  • Antioxidants and phytonutrients are bonuses

Phytonutrients are potent compounds found in plants that provide some form of benefit to people, albeit they are not regarded as “necessary” like the nutrients listed above. These plant compounds have been shown to help prevent cancer, heart disease, and other disorders.

Phytonutrient-rich phytonutrients are abundant in plant-based diets that include a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Antioxidants aid in neutralizing damaging free radicals in the body, minimizing DNA damage, and lowering cancer risk. Antioxidants include vitamins C and E and carotenoids, which are abundant in plant foods.

Conclusion

You can receive all the nutrients you need to live a happy, healthy vegan lifestyle by eating whole plant meals, fortified foods, and supplements.

The key to getting the most out of a plant-based diet is to eat a variety of complete plant meals daily. You’re loading up on nutrients when you base your meals and snacks on whole grains, legumes, veggies, nuts, seeds, and fruit.

That isn’t to say that processed meals, enjoyable foods, and celebratory foods don’t have a place. On the contrary, necessary nutrients can be found in fortified meals and plant meats, and it’s also important for food to be enjoyable.

Work with a vegan registered dietitian nutritionist for tailored help if you’re having trouble finding a balance of nourishing plant foods and an eating pattern that allows you to go out to eat and enjoy celebrations.

Read Here: Agricultural Micronutrients Report