I’m not a nutritionist, I’m just researching my ass of for new, interesting things to put on my plate and kick-start a vegan life. Whether your reason to becoming a vegan is to loose weight, get healthier, for animal rights, the earth.. researching the nutrition’s you will lack without a good knowledge of what your body needs.
This is a very brief summary:
Vitamin B-12 is the super vitamin your body needs for the metabolic pathways which releases energy from fats and carbs and is also necessary for a functioning nervous-system and brain. B-12 is usually found in milk, eggs and other animal foods and should be taken every day since it’s water based and extremely important for you in the long run. Personally I recommend NatureMade B12 which I take daily. And yes, it is gelatin-free.
Proteins are divided into complete and in-complete proteins. The incomplete proteins comes from vegan sources as fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts meaning they lack one or more of the amino-acids which the body needs to repair itself. It does NOT mean that “going vegan” automatically mean that you will lack protein, however you will need to get your protein a variety from different sources to access the best mix of the essential amino-acids your body needs.
It is also good to remember that these complementary proteins can be eaten throughout the day and still your body will combine them. So eat a variety of beans, peas, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and match that to 0.5- 0.8 grams per kilo body-weight. Follow the old dieting rule – mix, mix and mix some more!
Iron is a mineral which is as tricky as protein. It is divided as heme (animal) and non-heme irons, where once again, the iron from animal foods is superior because of how it is absorbed in your body. Yet, there is no need for vegans to start overdosing iron since the absorption relays on the combination of other nutrition’s, such as C-vitamin which can increase the absorption up to five times. To better understand this, read more here and keep on eating leafy greens, quinoa, beans etc.
Omega-3. Substitute the intake of omega-3 fatty acids with either DHA supplements or be sure to eat small amounts of flax seed oil, walnuts, ground flax seeds or canola oil. This is important for your memory and nervous function.
“The human brain is about 60% fat, and DHA is one of the crucial structural fatty acids in both the brain and the retina. Approximately 30% of the structural lipid in the gray matter of the brain is DHA. Thus, it is required for the proper functioning of the neural systems.”
Vitamin D is found as Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) which is derived from animals (usually from sheep’s wool or fish oil). Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is vegan always vegan and and usually obtained from yeast. Especially Vitamin D-3, which is the body’s preferred form of vitamin D is found in fortified milk. Although there are doubts if there exists vegan D-3 vitamin supplements, it is easy to get the full amount (about 25 micrograms/ day) from soy milk and exposing yourself to sunlight.
Calcium. Based on research showing that vegans who consumed less than 525 mg per day of calcium had higher bone fracture rates than people who consumed more than 525 mg per day (14), vegans should make sure they get a minimum of 525 mg of calcium per day. It would be best to get 700 mg per day for adults, and at least 1,000 mg for people age 13 to 18 when bones are developing. This can most easily be satisfied for most vegans by eating high-calcium greens on a daily basis and drinking a nondairy milk that is fortified with calcium
Iodine. As a vegan it is incredibly important getting enough Iodine which westerns usually get from milk or iodized salt. The vegan way is eating seaweed.
Zinc. It is hard do obtain adequate amounts of this mineral but it can be obtained by either changing the way you prepare certain foods (like toasting nuts and seeds) or from leafy vegetables, grains, cooked beans, nuts, seeds or wheat germ.
I hope you enjoyed this summary of these essential nutrients vegans easily lacks. BUT, now follows the fun part which is making you look hotter, feel happier and perfect yourself to the fullest. That is the only road a vegan lifestyle leads you to – achieving your life goals and saving the earth while doing it! :)