If you don’t eat meat, fish, or any other animal products, then you need to make sure you are well informed about the nutrients you need and how to get them from other sources.

Being a vegetarian myself, I’ve been to some lengths to research what makes a healthy plant-based diet. I’m currently compiling all of these findings into a report which I’ll be sending for free to all of my clients and subscribers who request it. If you are vegetarian yourself, or know friends and family who are, then just pop your details in the box to the right to receive your copy of the report in the new year. So what are the main nutrients to look out for if you are a veggie?

 

Protein

Getting the right amounts of protein can be challenging for vegetarians. With the right kind of planning though, the challenge can be easily overcome.

As a veggie, you need to be aware that protein is made up of amino-acids, and that some of these amino-acids are essential, in other words, if your diet doesn’t provide them, your body can’t make them. Vegetarian protein foods are often incomplete because they only contain some of the essential amino acids. This is why it’s important to get a wide variety in your diet – for example: lentils and pulses, nuts and seeds and tofu.

If you are vegetarian as opposed to vegan, then good quality eggs (organic free range) are a perfect source of all of the amino acids you need.

Iron

This mineral is vital for us to make enough haemoglobin for the red cells in our blood to be able to transport oxygen around the body, giving all of the tissues the constant supply needed to maintain life.

When iron stores get low, our cells struggle to produce energy and we start feeling fatigued. The result of low iron stores  is called anaemia.

Among plant foods, leafy green vegetables, lentils and some herbs and spices are among our best sources. Spinach, chard and asparagus top the list along with pepper, cumin, turmeric and thyme.

B12

More insidious than iron deficiency anaemia, B12 deficiency is rather common in vegetarians and vegans, and can be very dangerous.

Some of the tell tale signs and symptoms can often be interpreted as the result of other issues and they include for example: nervousness, numb feet, depression, fatigue, palpitations, sore tongue and dandruff.

B12 is mainly supplied from animal sources, but is also available in some fermented foods, although even these sources are not particularly reliable. So it’s very important for veggies to include some cultured and fermented bean products like tofu, tempeh, miso, tamari and shoyu in their diet. Brewer’s and nutritional yeast can also be good sources.

Iodine

Iodine, a trace mineral, is required by the body for the thyroid to synthesize thyroid hormones, responsible for regulating metabolism in every cell of the body. An iodine deficiency can have a devastating impact on your health and well-being, and symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, weakness and  depression. Severe iodine deficiency during pregnancy or infancy causes cretinism, stunted physical growth, deafness, and spasticity.

Because of this, it is often added to the food chain in the form of iodized salt, for example. If you don’t use iodized salt, then for vegetarians, sea vegetables are an excellent source. Yogurt, mozzarella cheese, eggs, and strawberries are also good sources.

 

 

Want to read more?

Author: Angela Steel