According to Two Registered Dietitians, These Are the 5 Supplements Every Vegan and Vegetarian Should Know About
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New to being a vegan or vegetarian? We know it can be difficult getting the nutrients you need with a plant-based diets--which is why we’ve created a list of five supplements you may need in order to thrive on your new diet. After speaking with Gabriella Schreiber RD, LDN and Mariale Renna MS, RD, LDN, we gained insight into these supplements and all there is to know about them.
According to the two registered dietitians, Omega-3’s are crucial to the human body because they cannot be made by the body itself. Schreiber and Renna informed us that Omega-3’s aid in the lowering of triglycerides and play a key role in protecting against various forms of cancers. When you don’t get enough Omega-3’s in your diet, you may experience dry or scaly skin and eyes, brittle hair and nails, fatigue, and mood swings. So keep an eye out! You can even get these “good” fats from certain foods, such as olive oil, walnuts, seeds, and avocados.
Vitamin D, generally found in fortified non-dairy products, “…promotes calcium absorption and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate levels for normal mineralization of bone,” the two said. They also mention that it’s essential for bone growth. If you’re experiencing bone pain, fatigue, muscle weakness, or a worsening immune system, then you might be Vitamin D-deficient. To ensure you aren’t missing this part of your diet, try eating more fortified non-dairy products like fortified soy or almond milk, or even non-dairy yogurts and cheeses. “Leafy green vegetables and tofu are also high in calcium for strict vegans,” Schreiber and Renna tell us. “Vegetarians who include cow-based dairy may choose items, such as cheese or low fat yogurt.”
Schreiber and Renna also say that, while Calcium promotes strong bones, it aids in the contraction of muscles and proper function of the heart. Like Omega-3s, our body cannot produce its own calcium. so making sure Calcium is included in your vegan or vegetarian diet is important. Calcium can be found in foods, such as dairy products, certain green vegetables, as well as juices, breakfast foods, soy milk, cereals, and bread that all have added calcium in them. If you begin to sense muscle cramps, confusion, or tingling in the lips or fingers, it’s possible you may be Calcium-deficient.
Proper function of the immune system, protein and DNA synthesis, wound healing, and cell division are all benefits of the mineral, Zinc. (It also promotes proper taste and smell.) But, when you don’t get enough, you may experience a slowed growth, smaller appetite, and a weakened immune system. To ensure you’re getting just enough Zinc, you can try eating more beans, nuts, whole grains, and even some seafood like oyster, crab, or lobster. Fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products are also good sources of Zinc.
“Vitamin B-12 plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and DNA, as well as the proper function of the nervous system,” the dietitians tell. You can tell if you are deficient in B-12 if you sense neurological changes, such as tingling in the lips and fingers, mobility issues, fatigue, and glossitis in the mouth. Other than supplements, B-12 is generally found in fortified foods, such as nutritional yeast. Schreiber recommends nutritional yeast to vegans because of its cheesy-like taste, as it makes a great substitute!
How do you get your vitamins and minerals as a vegan or vegetarian?