Plant-based and vegan diets comes with many health benefits; these include a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. But as with any diet that restricts some food groups, you need to be mindful of those nutrients that are no longer abundantly a part of your diet. Let's go through a few of the must-have vitamins and minerals you need as part of a plant-based diet.
What You Don’t Get from a Plant Based-Diet
Besides what we can make on our own with some help from the sun, vitamin D is most abundant in animal-based foods; these include salmon and eggs. As these are not plant-based, those following a vegan diet may have a problem getting enough vitamin D.
So, can you get vitamin D from any plant-based foods? You can get vitamin D from fortified foods such as plant-based milk or from mushrooms however absorbability is minimal. Great vegan options of vitamin D (outside of sunshine) are limited, and this is why most vegans will supplement this essential vitamin.
B12 is produced by bacteria and is stored in the muscle and liver of animals. You only get small amounts of vitamin B12 from plants, usually from algae or contaminated food. Because of this, every vegan should consider either supplementing or consuming adequate fortified food products…or even both.
Animals provide us with a convenient source of complete protein with all the amino acids our body needs. Plants also offer a great source of amino acids, but many contain incomplete proteins, which means that you may be missing out on some vital amino acids. To be sure you are getting all the amino acids your body needs, get your protein from plant foods such as legumes, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds.
Plant-based diets provide a source of iron but in the form of non-heme iron. This non-heme iron is particularly abundant in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
The problem with this is that without the heme, it becomes hard for you to absorb the iron. You see, the cells in the gut love heme iron and they have little transporters that follow a different pathway of absorption to non-heme iron.
But we have a little tip to boost your non-heme iron absorption –Vitamin C enhances absorption of the iron. Simple lemon water contains a great source of vitamin C, try consuming a glass just before your meal.
Zinc is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions in your body and is a very important mineral for your health. Unfortunately for vegans, zinc is most abundant in shellfish or meat. You will, although, find zinc in plant-based foods such as nuts and seeds however these sources contain phytates which make zinc hard to absorb. Try soaking raw nuts and seeds before consuming them to reduce phytates.
Just remember, your body uses a lot of zinc, so be sure you are getting your recommended daily requirements; if unsure a supplementing is the way to go.
How to Get What You're Missing From a Plant-Based Diet
Firstly, look at where you can increase these individual nutrients in the diet, fill out a diet diary and assess your intake to see where some vitamins and minerals may be falling short.
Secondly, monitor your nutrition levels through the help of your health professional. Your diet diary and some testing may be required here.
Thirdly, consider taking a high-quality plant-based vegan supplement to top up on any vitamins and minerals that may be falling short. Ode Daily provides a high-quality plant-based vitamin supplement designed specifically for vegans.
Ode Daily Supplement
What is Ode Daily? A science-backed daily vitamin powder made specifically for plant based, vegan or flexitarian individuals who are looking to fill the gaps in their nutrition in the form of a tasty drink. Does Ode Daily really work? The active… read more