October 2, 2017

Getting Nutrients For Vegans

Note: this post has been updated in June 2020.

Nutrients for Vegans and Whole Food Plant-based Eaters

Are you a new vegan or plant-based person looking to make sure you get enough of the essential nutrients in your food? If you are vegan, you need to be careful that you get enough nutrients in your food. That is why I have this article on nutrients for vegans. Here’s a look at a few ways you can make sure your new lifestyle change is as healthy as it can be!

These essential nutrients are necessary for energy and materials for life building processes in the human body. Thus, the term essential nutrients. Below is a list of the essential minerals needed by everyone.

Nutrients for vegans

Meat and Dairy Free Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart, brain, skin, and joint health. Fortunately, you can get them without all the cholesterol and toxins found in fish. Flaxseeds, walnuts, and canola oil are good vegan sources of omega-3 ALA. It’s also a good idea to take vegan DHA capsules, which contain omega-3s derived from algae (where the fish get it from!).

Protein-Packed Plant Foods

Every food contains protein, so it’s impossible not to get enough if you’re consuming an adequate number of calories. Soybeans, a vegan super-food, are packed with protein and essential amino acids. Other beans as well as chickpeas, lentils, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, broccoli, walnuts, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, and corn are also good protein sources. - via PETA
Nutrients for vegans

Nutrients for Vegans: Iron — Are You Getting Enough?

One of the many necessary nutrients' we humans need to survive is iron. Are you getting enough? Many vegans and vegetarians aren’t, especially when they first make the switch. Here’s a look at how you can get enough iron in your everyday diet.

We all need some Iron

Iron serves as an essential part of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in your blood from your lungs to every body's cell. Iron comes in two forms: heme, which is better absorbed, and non-heme, which is not absorbed as readily. According to the Institutes of Medicine and The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG), 40% of the iron found in meat, poultry and fish is heme, while the other 60% is non-heme. All plant-based sources of iron are non-heme, which is why the RDA for iron is higher for vegetarians than it is for meat eaters. According to the Institutes of Medicine, vegetarian men and post-menopausal women need 14 mg daily and pre-menopause vegetarian women should aim for 33 mg each day. While non-heme iron isn't as readily absorbed as heme iron, a few simple steps can influence the absorption of iron:
Select a variety of plant-based iron-rich foods daily, such as legumes, fortified veggie meats, nuts and seeds, prunes, raisins, blackstrap molasses, fortified cereals and grains, kale, and broccoli.
Do not rely on spinach, beet greens, rhubarb, and Swiss chard for your iron. An acid in these veggies called "oxalates" binds with the iron, making it unavailable for the body.
Eat iron-rich plant foods along with fruits and veggies that are rich in vitamin C during the same meal or snack to increase absorption.
Use cast-iron pots and pans to cook your food, especially acidic foods such as tomato sauce. This will increase the amount of iron in your food.
Do not drink tea or coffee with your iron-rich foods. The tannins in the tea and coffee can decrease the absorption of the iron. Some herbal teas, such as chamomile, peppermint, lime flower, and pennyroyal, can also decrease absorption.
If you are in doubt about your iron intake, talk to your doctor. A simple test can determine your iron level. - via SparkPeople

Start Your Journey to Health

Join the Physicians Committee's 21-Day Vegan Kickstart to receive meal plans, recipes, and advice from nutrition experts. This service is free and will help you take control of your health with a vegan diet. Our low-fat plant-based recipes, developed by chefs, dietitians, and experts in vegan cuisine, provide nutritious meals that are both healthy and delicious. Within 21 days you will start to see results and won’t look back! via - 21-Day Vegan Kickstart

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Are you getting all of the necessary nutrients from your diet, especially iron? What necessary nutrients do you think your diet is missing?

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