Problem nutrients for vegetarians and vegans.

With all the health and nutritional advantages ofvegan or even partial vegetarian diets, there are somepotential pitfalls that are bestaddressed. This chart of problem nutrients for vegetarians and vegans shows how to avoidproblems  with essential nutrients such as Vitamin D, VitaminB2 or Riboflavin, Vitamin B12, Calcium, Iron, Zinc. The real problem, however, is not inwhat you miss eating as a vegan but what you miss eating as a carnivore.

Problem Nutrients
(if there are any)
Vegetarians and Vegans

By RB McLean

We are a society of pill poppers. Vitamin pills and other pills are popped all day. Yet vitamin pills are not the answer. Vitamin pills can not replace good nutrtition. Eat healty and take less vitamin pills to have a nutritious diet. Vitamin pills are fine unless you use vitamin pills to justifiy poor nutrition.

Some surfers have expressed an interest in becoming vegetarian or vegan,yet fear they will not get all the vitamins that they need without eating meat,poultry, fish, eggs, or diary.

So, the question is: How can I get the nutrients I need while eating veganor vegetarian?

It is easy. See for yourself in the chart below.

In the meantime, consider this. One of the real health problems in eating milk,dairy, and eggs (besides the animal fat, hormones, antibiotics, etc.) is that they arefilling. People who eat them often don’t eat nearly enough fruit, vegetables, and grainsto get the necessary vitamins, minerals, and fiber these foods contain.

It is easy to eat a balanced diet if you eat vegan. In my opinion, it is hardto eat a balanced diet if you are a carnivore eating meat, eggs, and dairy on a regularbasis.

After all, you can only eat so much during any day. And most of that should befruits, vegetables, and grains.

Nutrient Function Vegan Source Ovolacto Comments
Vitamin D Helps body absorb and use calcium. Promotes normal development of bones and teeth. Same as non-vegan: Sunshine, fortified foods. Most soy milk is fortified with Vitamin D just as cow’s milk is fortified. Sunshine, fortified cow or soy milk, egg yolks plus all vegan sources. Sunshine, often a sufficient source of  Vitamin D in the sunny south, is often inadequate in northern areas.
Vitamin B2 Essential to the function of enzymes that promote the release of energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Dark green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, enriched and whole-grain breads and cereals, legumes, nuts, fruit. Milk, eggs plus all vegan sources. Riboflavin supplements should be taken with meals to increase absorption.
Vitamin B12 Essential for the formation of red blood cells and proper functioning of nervous system. Fortified foods, supplements. Eggs, milk and milk products plus all vegan sources. If in doubt, have a blood test.
Calcium Calcium is essential for blood clotting, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction. It is the major building material for bones and teeth.  Fortified soy milk, tofu (especially when processed with calcium sulfate),  dark green leafy vegetables, blackstrap molasses, dried figs and prunes, pinto beans,  fortified foods, supplements. All vegan sources. A growing body of research is showing that cow’s milk has a negative effect on calcium in our bodies. Try to get your calcium from other sources besides cow’s milk. Some plant foods such as sesame seeds, spinach, beet greens, rhubarb, and Swiss chard contain high levels of oxalic acid which combines with calcium and prevents is absorption.
Iron A component of enzymes involved in energy metabolism. An integral part of hemoglobin which carries oxygen in the red blood cells. Enriched and whole-grain breads and cereals, wheat germ, seeds, nuts, blackstrap molasses, garbanzos,  black-eyed peas, raisins, prune juice, potato skins, green leafy vegetables, tofu, miso, brewer’s yeast, tomato juice, foods cooked in cast-iron cookware. Same as for vegan. The nonheme iron in plants is not absorbed as well as the heme iron in meat. The fiber in plants also interferes with plant iron absorption, as do coffee, tea, and calcium supplements when taken with or shortly before or after a meal. Enhance absorption of nonheme iron by combining them with foods providing Vitamin C. Tea & coffee interfere with iron absorption.
Zinc Essential to the composition or function of over 20 enzymes in the body; necessary for protein synthesis in body cells; role in reproduction, taste acuity, and function of immune system. Nuts, legumes, miso, lima beans,   pumpkin and sunflower seeds, wheat germ, whole-grain yeast breads, whole-grain cereals. Milk and egg yolks plus all vegan sources. The phylate in whole grains and the fiber in many plant foods bind zinc, interfering with its absorption. Calcium and iron supplements can also interfere with zinc absorption. Zinc supplements may upset copper/zinc balance in body.

Source: Total Nutrition:The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, TheComplete Book of Vitamin Cures from the Prevention Health Library, Dr. Dean Ornish’sProgram for reversing Heart Disease, The Yale Guild toChildren’s Nutrition, Prevention’s Food & Nutrition from the PreventionHealth Library, Slate, 1999.

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Images: Copyright © 1993-1997 T-Maker Company. All rights reserved.