Did you know that 70% of Americans suffer from ailments related to their diet, which can be improved from following a plant-based diet? Or that it takes approximately 2,500 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef? There are several health and environmental reasons why people choose to follow a plant-based diet. However, there are several things that your diet may be missing once you make the switch to becoming vegetarian. Most people only plan to cut out the meat in their diet, but forget to plan the rest of their dietary intake. Here is a list of nutrients that are often low or missing in a plant-based diet:
- Vitamin B12 – It aids in forming neurotransmitters and helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells, but is found in primarily meat products. As a vegetarian or vegan, look at eating foods that are fortified with B12 or supplementing it.
- Calcium – This is the most common mineral in the human body. It helps with nerve impulse transmission, muscle contraction, hormone secretion, and forming your teeth and bones. Outside of dairy products, calcium can be found in tofu, nuts, legumes, and fortified non-dairy beverages. Some compounds, eaten in a large amount following a plant-based diet, can hinder its absorption.
- Iodine – Aids in the formation of T3 and T4, two hormones that help increase your body’s metabolic rate. Vegetarian diets tend to have a large amount of soy-based foods, which can compromise thyroid function. Make sure to use iodized salt or supplementation.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Found primarily in fish, it should come as no surprise that an individual following a plant-based diet may be deficient in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for your body’s overall ability to function. Instead of using a fish oil supplement, look for one that is algae based in order to prevent chronic disease and help with body composition management.
- Vitamin D – Found in very few foods, sunshine is the best source of receiving adequate amounts of Vitamin D. If you live in a place where the sun goes into hibernation during the winter months, supplementation is crucial.