New vegans often encounter many critical comments about their lack of protein and certain vitamins in their diet. Unfortunately, this criticism is coming from people who think they know nutrition but really don’t. The first thing new vegans learn is how to make sure they are getting enough protein in their diet, while gleefully announcing to naysayers the joy of plant protein. Some new vegans will miss crucial vitamins in their diet as they learn the new lifestyle. It’s okay, today we want to tell you which vitamins you should pay attention to and how to get them.
This vitamin is important because of the maintenance of bodily processes it assists with. The two biggest functions it assists is protein metabolism and the formation of oxygen-transporting red blood cells. A deficiency of B12 can lead to anemia and/or heart disease. There are several ways to maintain healthy levels of B12, such as:
· Nutritional yeast
Vitamin D is important due to the fact it helps absorb calcium and phosphorus in your gut, maintains immune function, and your mood. It’s important to note that a deficiency of vitamin D is not limited to a new vegan diet, it occurs in omnivores just as often. There are not as many ways to maintain vitamin D levels for the vegan since many sources are from animals. What we do recommend is:
· Sitting in the sunlight at the strongest part of the day for 15 min without sunscreen
Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Long chain omega-3 fatty acids play a big part in maintaining your brain and eyes. A deficiency can often result in depression and ADHD. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to maintain healthy levels if you love nuts and seeds. We recommend:
· Chia seeds
· Flax seeds
· Hemp seeds
Iodine is important to maintain a healthy thyroid function which maintains your metabolism. A deficiency can often result in hypothyroidism. One of the biggest issues for vegans is that for many foods to be rich in iodine is dependent on the soil it’s grown in to be rich in iodine. Often the closer to the ocean, the higher the content of iodine in the soil. If you are growing your own food, you can easily learn how to maintain a healthy level of iodine. But if you are like many vegans depending on a health food store, it can be harder to know just how much iodine you are taking in. Here is what we can recommend:
· Iodized salt
· Seaweed (a couple times a week if you are not eating iodized salt)
Iron is closely related to protein, so it’s no wonder that many vegans learn quickly how to watch their iron intake! Iron is needed for creating new red blood cells, carrying oxygen to the blood, and maintaining metabolism. A deficiency can result in anemia, fatigue, and decreased immune function. Fortunately, making sure you get enough iron is super easy. We suggest:
· Dried fruit
It’s easy for non-vegans to assume a vegan diet is very limiting. However, as we can see above, there are so many options and ways to maintain a healthy vegan diet while enjoying a wide variety of foods. With so many recipes available, it will be difficult for you to get bored and be vitamin deficient!