Vegans must ensure that they have a well balanced diet to ensure they do not become deficient in any essential nutrients, and in some cases supplementation may be necessary.
Vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium, iodine, selenium, protein and essential fats can sometimes be lacking in a vegan diet. The following guidelines will help you to ensure you receive enough of these essential nutrients in your diet.
Vitamin B12: Vegan sources of B12:
Sea vegetables such as kelp, kombu and nori
B complex supplement or a B12 supplement is recommended to ensure you are getting enough B12. Inside Out Health can advise you on the best options.
Iron: Vegan sources of iron:
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, turnip greens, collard, brussel sprouts and broccoli.
Wholegrains – brown rice, spelt, rye, oats
Consuming vitamin C rich foods with iron rich foods will increase the absorption. Many foods are naturally rich in both iron and vitamin C, for example, broccoli, swiss chard and other green leafy vegetables.
Calcium: Vegan sources of Calcium:
Green leafy vegetables
Fortified soy milk and other plant milks
Iodine: Vegan sources of Iodine:
Seaweeds such as kelp (kombu), iodized salt. Adding small amounts of powdered or crumbled seaweed to stews or curries while cooking is a good way to provide adequate iodine if not supplemented.
Selenium: Vegan sources of selenium:
Vitamin D: Vegan sources of Vit. D:
Fortified cereals and milks e.g. soya or almond
Vitamin D is also formed in response to the action of sunlight on the skin so ensuring you spend some time outdoors, especially in summer, is important.
Taking a Vitamin D supplement is recommended in the winter months. Inside out Health can advise you on the best options.
The body is able to make a number of amino acids, but there are also many amino acids, which the body cannot make which have to be sought from food. Some plant foods are low in certain amino acids that are required by the body. However a varied diet including a wide range of plants rich in protein will ensure all the essential amino acids are consumed.
Plant proteins are not as easily digested as animal proteins so the recommendation is 1.2g per kg of body weight per day. For example a woman weighing 64 kg (10 stone) needs about 68g of protein per day, which equates to approximately 20g per meal.
Vegan sources of protein:
Peas, beans, lentils, soya products, grains (wheat, oats, rice, barley, buckwheat, millet, quinoa), nuts and seeds.
Essential fats: Vegan sources:
An omega 3 supplement is recommended. Inside Out Health can advise you.
Nuts and seeds and their oils.
The vegan shopping list: All available at Inside Out Health
Nuts (almonds, Brazils, cashews, etc – ensure they are raw and unsalted)
Seeds (pumpkin, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds)
Nut and seed butters (e.g. tahini, cashew nut butter, pumpkin seed butter – ensure the butters are free from hydrogenated fat and sugar)
Beans (kidney beans, mung beans, soya beans, etc)
Nut based milks, e.g. almond milk, cashew milk, hazelnut milk
Vegetables (especially dark green leafy vegetables)
Sprouted seeds, beans and lentils (or buy a sprouting kit to grow your own)