May 19, 2012

Going Vegan Could Mean Missing These Key Nutrients

Not eating animal products means a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and although it can also be used to lose weight, it's important not to skip out on valuable nutrients that often come from meat and dairy.

Vitamin B12
Most women need 2.4 mcg of this vitamin each day. It's essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system as well as healthy blood cells. Found mostly in poultry, beef, fish, and dairy products, this B vitamin has vegan sources as well including fortified cereals, fortified soy milk, kale, spinach, and nutritional yeast.

The RDI of iron for women is 18 mg, and while animal products contain iron, there are tons of vegan foods high in this mineral as well. The body needs iron to make hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, which is why an iron deficiency often causes fatigue. Be sure to include fortified cereal, fortified soy milk, beans such as garbanzos and lentils, tofu, sun-dried tomatoes, potatoes, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and peanuts in your vegan diet.

Milk definitely does a body good when it comes to calcium, but getting your daily fill of 1,000 mg doesn't have to come from a cow. Necessary for growing new bone and maintaining bone strength, as well as preventing osteoporosis, calcium also helps maintain heart rhythm and muscle function. Go for fortified cereals, cinnamon, fortified soy milk, almond milk, figs, green veggies such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, tofu,soy yogurt, and tempeh, and indulge in some dairy-free frozen dessert.

Are you tired, getting sick all the time, and have dry skin and poor circulation? Lack of omega-3s may be to blame. This fatty acid has anti-inflammatory and mood-stabilizing properties and has been found to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease as well as lower cholesterol. The RDI of omega-3s is 1.1 grams a day, and since fish is an excellent source,vegans might be missing out. Fill up on flax products such as flaxmeal and flaxseed oil, walnuts, soybeans, and Silk DHA Omega-3 soy milk.

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