Are you meeting your nutrition values on a vegan diet?
As we all know, there is no theory backing up the logic that non-vegetarians or ovo-lacto-vegetarians are healthier than vegans, even though many will tell you otherwise. But the good news is that vegans can get sufficient nutrition provided they carefully plan their meals considering all the food groups.
The nutrients which are of optimum importance on a wholly vegan diet are vitamin B12, protein, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, riboflavin, vitamin D, calcium, iron, iodine, zinc, and selenium. But with proper planning, one can get sufficient doses of the above-mentioned nutrients from a plant based diet. Additionally, a well-planned vegan diet can be very beneficial for the body as it can help lower the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Listed below are the different nutrients you need and the ways to intake them on a vegan diet:
Protein from plants
For a vegan, it is recommended that they take 0.9 gms of protein per kilogram of their body weight.
One should consume an adequate quantity of varied sources to ensure that they get their required dosage of protein. Seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains and soy are excellent sources of protein. Other great sources of proteins are tofu, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, orange, broccoli and plant based protein powder.
Take a vegan DHA capsules which contain algae-derived omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids are highly beneficial for the heart, brain, joint health and skin. Flax seeds, walnuts and canola oil are excellent sources of vegan omega 3 fatty acids. Consuming these on regular basis would nurture one with the required dosage minus the cholesterol and toxins found in fish.
Vitamin B12 for vegans
2.4 mcg of Vitamin B12 is required on an average per day.
Vitamin B12 is made by bacteria and fungi. Sterilization and cleaning of various vegan sources of food destroys their natural B12 content. Vegans all over the world are advised to take supplements for their vitamin B12 requirement. Some brands of fortified cereals, nutritional yeast, soy and rice milks also contain Vitamin B12.
Men and women aged 19-50 should take 1000 mg of calcium every day.
Calcium is found in abundance in greens, kale, broccoli, almonds, beans and sesame seeds. There are many calcium-fortified foods available like fortified soy, cereals, tofu and juices. As a vegan, one should take supplements or such fortified foods to ensure the proper intake of calcium rich vegan foods.
800IU is the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.
Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium in the body. Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D. It is also found in fortified orange juices, tofu and mushrooms. Vegans find it very difficult to fulfill their Vitamin D requirement in winters when the sun is low.
Sunflower seeds, spinach, dried fruits, nuts, lentils, molasses, grains and millet contain iron.
As vitamin C helps to increase the iron absorption in the body, either eat foods with a combination of iron and vitamin C or eat dark-leafy vegetables which have sufficient doses of both iron and calcium.
Carry backup food
Getting vegan options everywhere might be a problem, though more and more restaurants have started offering vegan options these days. It’s a good idea to carry your meal while travelling so that one need not skip meals. Vegan bars are a good option to carry while travelling.
Cooking your vegan meal
Invest in a few good vegan cookbooks and you would be surprised at a number of options vegans have. Vegan food need not be boring and restrictive. Food cookbooks explore and experiment with a wide range of vegan options making food delicious for you.
Proper doses and proper food combinations can ensure that a vegan diet can be as healthy and nourishing, just like any other dietary option!
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