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How Vegans Get Enough Nutrients

Going Vegan Could Mean Missing These Key Nutrients

Not eating animal products means a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and although it can also be used to lose weight, it's important not to skip out on valuable nutrients that often come from meat and dairy.

Vitamin B12
Most women need 2.4 mcg of this vitamin each day. It's essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system as well as healthy blood cells. Found mostly in poultry, beef, fish, and dairy products, this B vitamin has vegan sources as well including fortified cereals, fortified soy milk, kale, spinach, and nutritional yeast.

Iron
The RDI of iron for women is 18 mg, and while animal products contain iron, there are tons of vegan foods high in this mineral as well. The body needs iron to make hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body, which is why an iron deficiency often causes fatigue. Be sure to include fortified cereal, fortified soy milk, beans such as garbanzos and lentils, tofu, sun-dried tomatoes, potatoes, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and peanuts in your vegan diet.

Keep reading to find out what other nutrients vegan diets might be missing.

Calcium
Milk definitely does a body good when it comes to calcium, but getting your daily fill of 1,000 mg doesn't have to come from a cow. Necessary for growing new bone and maintaining bone strength, as well as preventing osteoporosis, calcium also helps maintain heart rhythm and muscle function. Go for fortified cereals, cinnamon, fortified soy milk, almond milk, figs, green veggies such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, tofu, soy yogurt, and tempeh, and indulge in some dairy-free frozen dessert. Here's a sample daily diet showing what a vegan needs to eat to obtain her daily calcium.

Omega-3s
Are you tired, getting sick all the time, and have dry skin and poor circulation? Lack of omega-3s may be to blame. This fatty acid has anti-inflammatory and mood-stabilizing properties and has been found to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease as well as lower cholesterol. The RDI of omega-3s is 1.1 grams a day, and since fish is an excellent source, vegans might be missing out. Fill up on flax products such as flaxmeal and flaxseed oil, walnuts, soybeans, and Silk DHA Omega-3 soy milk.

Source: Flickr User miriam_kato

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aeryn aeryn 4 years
I'm sorry, but vegans who eat a rich diet have a better chance of getting most of these vitamins (especially calcium!) The only one we can't get is B12, but I've read a lot that suggests that we don't really need that much anyway, and you can get it without supplementation from things like delicious nutritional yeast. This post may do more harm than good scaring people away from an incredibly healthy lifestyle choice!
Skye2564617 Skye2564617 4 years
There's also been research that has proven that animal milks acidity leaches the nutrients and calcium from our bones creating osteoporosis. The places where milk is rarely or never consumed have shown people to maintain stronger bones and joints. Calcium is important, no doubt, but animal milk does more harm than good for your body.
bellahsin bellahsin 4 years
 @Juniper2420862 me too. I take supplements every other day just to make sure I have the right amount of the b12, iron, and calcium. 
Juniper2420862 Juniper2420862 4 years
 @Jacob2511449 I take Barlean's Vegan Swirl.  It's a balanced 3-6-9 blend and tastes good enough to take straight. :)
Jacob2511449 Jacob2511449 4 years
Well this is not necessarily true!!! For Omega3, there are some great high quality brands available in the market, Brands like V-mega3, they source oil from Lifes DHA, worlds largest in vegan DHA, excellent quality product. My nutrition advised me to take this one..I have been taking it for last 6 months. its a great source of vegan omega 3 dha.
Juniper2420862 Juniper2420862 4 years
 @bellahsin - I agree.  Plus, not all nutritional yeast has reliable amounts of B12, so if you don't want to constantly read the B12 labels on fortified foods, it's easier to take a supplement a few times a week.  I have a great sublingual that I take every other day so I don't need to worry about B12.
aspiringsteph aspiringsteph 4 years
Not to mention that saturated fats and animal cholesterol are important for your body's hormone functions and productions....
bellahsin bellahsin 4 years
Great reminder! But from what I understand neither does Kale nor spinach has B12 in it. The best way for vegan to have sufficient amount of B12 is taking the supplement other then just eating nutritional yeast. :)
Brandon2505868 Brandon2505868 4 years
Excellent post! i've actually been looking to change my diet and you've just given me some great alternatives. Thank you!!!! :-)
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