Vegetarian nutrition is something you need to be educated on prior to starting a vegetarian diet, in order to make sure you are eating a healthy diet that is meeting all your body’s nutritional needs. Careful planning of a vegetarian diet will help you avoid the nutritional deficiencies that can occur when practicing a vegetarian diet plan. There are a few key nutrient deficiencies to watch for. They include:
It is recommended that protein intake should be about .45 grams per kilogram of ideal weight you carry per day. Your vegetarian diet can meet this requirement by using tofu recipes and making sure to eat plenty of soy and beans.
Iron deficiencies are more likely in vegetarians than non-vegetarians. This deficiency is much more common in children who are on a vegetarian diet than adults. This is due to the fact that iron found in plants and eggs is not as easily absorbed as the iron found in animal proteins, like beef and chicken. A carefully planned diet, with well-rounded vegetarian meals, can help you avoid this deficiency.
Vegetarians should increase their zinc intake due to the fact that increased whole grain food and fiber intake may interfere with the absorption of zinc.
Evidence suggests that there is not enough vitamin B12 intake if you are practicing a vegetarian or vegan diet. Dietitians recommend that you take a vitamin B12 supplement if you are over 50, pregnant, or lactating. While some vegetarians may get some vitamin B12 from dairy and eggs, it isn’t as easily absorbed by the body like vitamin B12 from other animal proteins.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Vegetarian diets that don’t include eggs or sea vegetables, like seaweed, tend to be low in omega-3 fatty acids. This can be easily remedied by adding walnuts, flaxseed, or olive oils into your diet.
This deficiency is an issue primarily for vegans who do not eat foods fortified with synthetic vitamin D and who do not get enough sunlight.
Iodine deficiencies are not as common, particularly in the first world countries, due to iodized salt intake and other things such as bread made with dough conditioners.
While a carefully planned vegetarian or vegan diet can easily avoid any of the nutrient deficiencies that are listed above. It is important to make educated choices when practicing a vegetarian or vegan diet, and consulting a nutritionist is also a good idea.