When you say you are vegan, some people think you don't have a balanced diet, rich in several types of food that provide you with vitamins and minerals essential for the proper functioning of our body. Many advise the use of food supplements to supplement this diet. But are they really necessary?
Is it a myth or a fact?
Some nutrients are easier to find in food of animal origin, but many are unaware that it is also possible to get the same nutrients in plant-based food. In this article we tell you which are the 8 main nutrients you should pay attention to in a vegan diet and where to find them.
1) Vitamin B12
Several studies show that one of the main problems of the vegetarian and vegan diet is the higher risk of deficiency of vitamin B-12, which promotes the formation of red blood cells, helps metabolize proteins, and keep the nervous system healthy. This vitamin is easily found in animal products such as meat, eggs or milk.
However, there are also plant-based sources of B-12 like, for example, nori seaweed, spirulina, chlorella and nutritional yeast.
2) Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps improve the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and promotes the proper functioning of the immune system, memory and muscle recovery.
We all know that sunbathing, as long as with the proper precautions, can contribute to the absorption of this vitamin. But not all of us live in sunny places or have the time to sit in the sun for 30 minutes a day. So eating mushrooms or products to which these vitamins are added (like some cereals for example), can help to contest this gap.
3) Omega 3
The long-chain omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in the development of the brain and eyes.
This type of nutrients can be found in plants such as flaxseeds, chia, hemp seeds, nuts, soybeans and some seaweed.
Iodine is crucial for keeping the thyroid healthy. The thyroid is responsible for hormonal control, including weight control, energy spending, temperature, digestive system, and development and functioning of the brain and heart.
Iodine is easily found in seaweed, spinach, beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, broccoli and soybeans.
Iron contributes to the regeneration of DNA and red blood cells and is also necessary for energy metabolism.
Vegans can find this mineral in foods like moringa, hemp seeds, dark leaves, or nuts.
Zinc is a crucial mineral for the immune system, cell repair and metabolic function.
Foods such as whole grains, wheat germ, tofu, legumes, nuts, hemp seeds, and moringa contain this mineral.
Calcium is essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth, muscle recovery, nerve synapses, and heart health.
Plant sources of calcium include cabbage, mustard greens, turnip greens, watercress, broccoli, chickpeas and almond "milk".
Proteins are essential for muscle regeneration.
The best plant-based source of protein is soy, a complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids your body needs.
Good sources of protein like nuts (walnuts, almonds, peanuts and pecans), mushrooms, black beans, chickpeas, brown rice, quinoa and lentils are incomplete, meaning they lack one or more of the essential amino acids needed for growth and development. But by pairing incomplete proteins together, you can create a complete protein source. Examples of these combos include rice and black beans, hummus and whole-wheat crackers, quinoa and corn, and whole-wheat bread and peanut butter.
For people that follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, it can be difficult to get enough of certain nutrients, so regular testing is essential. There are also food supplements that complement deficits of these types of vitamins and minerals, but if you follow a rich diet you may not need them... Or you will need only a little percentage of them. These supplements should be indicated by a doctor, as the necessary dosage depends on each person.
Photo by @diana_pole
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Amy Gorin (Junhe 9, 2018). 7 food pairings that will increase nutrient absorption. NBC news. Consulted 06/05/2021