A vegetarian diet comprises predominantly of plant based products. While most vegetarian diets allow milk and dairy products, there are others than forbid all types of animal products. As there are certain nutrients that are found primarily in animal products, you may not get sufficient amount of these essential vitamins and minerals by consuming only plant products. Vegetarians are especially susceptible to vitamin B12, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and protein deficiencies. Nevertheless, deficiency of these vital nutrients can be avoided by planning an appropriate vegetarian diet.
Here Is How Vegetarians Should Plan Their Meals To Ensure That They Get All These Nutrients In The Right Amount:
Combine Variety of Plant Proteins
Meat and eggs are complete sources of protein as they contain all the nine essential amino acids that our body cannot synthesize naturally. Although protein rich vegetarian food sources such as legumes, beans and nuts are loaded with amino acids but you may not find all the essential amino acids in a single source. However, you can easily get all the amino acids by combining a variety of protein rich foods such as brown rice and legumes.
Eat Iron Rich Foods With Vitamin C
Although iron is found in a variety of plant foods such as spinach, beans, lentils and bran, the non-heme iron obtained from plants has a poor absorption rate. As vitamin C aids absorption of iron from food, increasing intake of citrus fruits, tomatoes, papaya, kiwifruit, pineapple, berries and other vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables along with iron rich foods helps in boosting the iron reserve of the body.
Whey powder, the preferred protein supplement for bodybuilders, in recent times has become a favorite food for vegetarians. Apart from being an excellent source of protein, it is also loaded with vitamin B12. You can get 42% of your daily vitamin B12 need from 100 grams of whey powder.
Flaxseed Oil And Walnuts
Vegetarian diet usually do not contain sufficient amount of omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats support healthy growth and development and diminish risk of chronic inflammatory diseases. To prevent deficiency of these essential fats, add walnuts, flax seeds, flaxseed oil and chia seeds to your diet.
Supplements And Fortified Foods
Although a properly planned vegetarian diet can meet all your nutritional needs, nevertheless, consuming supplements and foods fortified with vitamin B12, iron, zinc, calcium and omega-3 fats help in maintaining healthy levels of these vital nutrients.