Don’t be Deficient

By Sara Scheler

February 27, 2013

If you are a vegan or vegetarian or simply don’t eat a lot of meat like myself, it is important to find other sources for the nutrients that come from animal products.

According to the Mayo Clinic, non-meat eaters can be deficient in iodine, iron, Omega-3, protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D and zinc. Low levels of these nutrients can cause all sorts of problems, ranging from bone trouble to blood diseases, therefore it is important to find adequate substitutes.

If your diet allows you to eat fish, make it a staple part of your diet. Fish is a good source of protein and typically has high levels of Omega 3, an essential fatty acid. Avocados and nuts are some good plant-based sources of Omega-3. Walnuts, pistachios and all-natural peanut butter make a great snack and avocados can be put on salads or soups or made into guacamole.

Dairy products contain many vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin D and vitamin B12) and a good deal of protein. Dairy products such as yogurt, cheese and milk are an important part of a healthy vegetarian diet.

According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin B12 is essential for DNA production. This vitamin affects the brain and deficiencies may cause fatigue and depression so it is very important to have enough vitamin B12 in your diet. Vegetarians, look to dairy and eggs; vegans can only get this essential vitamin through B12 supplements.

Eggs are a wonderful source of many nutrients. They contain vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron and protein. Eggs are also very versatile and inexpensive. If you can, buy free-range eggs because they typically have more nutrients than commercially-produced eggs.

Beans are another great source of nutrients. They are high in vitamin D, iron, zinc and protein. Bean chili, black bean tacos and hummus are a few tasty options.

If you do not eat a lot of meat, incorporating these foods into your diet can keep you healthy and prevent deficiencies.

A nutrient-rich menu for vegetarians could look something like this:

Breakfast: two egg omelet, whole wheat toast, glass of milk

Lunch: salmon with rice and broccoli

Snack: pistachios, walnuts and cranberries

Dinner: three bean chili, guacamole, cheddar cheese

The essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6 cannot be made by the body and must come from food sources such as fish, olive oil, avocados, walnuts, pistachios, flax seeds and spinach

 

A nutrient-rich menu for vegetarians could look something like this:

Breakfast: two egg omelet, whole wheat toast, glass of milk

Lunch: salmon with rice and broccoli

Snack: pistachios, walnuts and cranberries

Dinner: three bean chili, guacamole, cheddar cheese