According to top nutritional experts, a strictly organic plant-based diet can predispose you to a number of dietary deficiencies. So those maintaining a meatless diet should supplement with additional nutrients, and there are some must-have vitamins for vegetarians. You see, most whole-food vegetarian sources just do not have easily bioavailable vitamins and minerals. The human gastro-intestinal and nutriment assimilation system have evolved over the millennia to absorb micronutrients better and faster from animal sources than from plants.
We are, by large and definition, an omnivorous species. Therefore, by deciding to do away with animal-based dietary sources, you have to find creative ways to make up for the deficit of excluding at least 50% of potential sources of nutrition from your diet.
Essential Vitamins for Vegetarians
As much as a vegan diet can lessen your chances of developing debilitating chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, or cardiovascular illnesses, there are certain unique limitations and risks of adopting a purely plant-based eating regimen. That’s the reason supplementation is necessary to fill those nutritional gaps in the diet as comprehensively as possible. Here’s a quick primer to that.
B12 Vitamins for Vegetarians
Truth be told, vitamin B12 is one of the hardest vitamins to extract from plant sources. And this is quite unfortunate; apart from being an important mood-boosting supplement, vitamin B12 also plays a critical role in the manufacture of new red blood cells, DNA synthesis, cell metabolism as well as boosting brain function.
Vitamin B12 is found in animal food sources so much that a 2003 study revealed that close to 90% of vegans who did not take B12 drops from manufacturers such as Wellabs Vitamins, suffered from its deficiency. The same study also isolated that even vegetarians who consume eggs/milk but did not supplement were 77% more likely to be deficient in this important nutrient than those who did. This revelation of the prevalence of B12 deficiency among vegans and vegetarians ought to be a strong sign that it’s time you consider supplementing with B12 drops if fish, eggs, beef, and dairy do not feature in our diet.
Vitamin D – Another of the Essential Vitamins for Vegetarians
Vitamin D is instrumental to a host of important functions in the body. This includes:
- Supporting immune function
- Maintaining a balance of important hormones
- Ensuring calcium absorption necessary for optimum bone health
- A mood booster
However, vitamin D deficiency is quite common particularly in countries that do not receive plenty of sunshine throughout the year or if your lifestyle does not allow the luxury of basking in the sun for hours. In such cases, eating foods that are a rich and bioavailable source of vitamin D usually makes up for this.
The only problem, nonetheless, is that vegans and vegetarians often have very few options for reliable vitamin D plant sources. Outside of eggs, fish, dairy, they have to rely on fortified cereals and grains as their chief sources of this important nutrient which is hardly enough. Luckily for this, vitamin D3 supplements from dependable nutritional houses such as Wellabs Vitamins can raise the natural levels of this vitamin in the blood if you are not getting enough of it from your diet or via solar exposure.
Minerals and Vitamins Recommended for Vegetarians
While minerals can be easy to access through a strictly vegetarian diet, there are a few exceptions that are notoriously hard to obtain unless you have a popeye’s palate. In such cases, fortunately, mineral supplements in the form of drops or capsules will often come in handy. And these include;
Calcium is critical for strong, sturdy, and healthy bones throughout one’s lifetime. And it is a mineral whose absorption and assimilation are highly dependent on the right vitamin D levels in the bloodstream. This makes it quite a tricky mineral to get a hold of especially for vegans who may unknowingly be deficient in the sunshine nutriment. Hence, calcium supplementation is still highly recommended even if you are an avid consumer of greens and especially if you consume lots of green tea or coffee.
Your body employs this essential mineral in the setting up of proper immune system infrastructure and supporting cell metabolism. Besides, your body cells still require zinc to replicate, differentiate, regulate and proliferate. And being a physiological component of more than 300 enzymes, these minerals also play an instrumental role in almost every process that different cells oversee.
If you don’t consume dairy or eggs, the next best plant-based sources of zinc include the likes of beans, seeds, and nuts. Otherwise, you may want to supplement with reliable zinc drops.
Iron- One of the Important Prenatal Vitamins for Vegetarians
Expectant women, especially, need a healthful dose of iron throughout their pregnancy to ensure optimum synthesis of red blood cells in the growing baby. Besides, iron is also critical in the transport of essential nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the developing fetus. And while vegetarians can get less reliable non-heme iron from a vegetable-rich diet, most of the time it is hardly as readily absorbed as heme iron from animal sources such as liver and egg yolks
Supplementation, therefore, is not an option for vegans; more so if they are expectant. That being said, be sure not to exceed the recommended daily amount of this mineral – too much of it can induce vomiting and nausea in pregnant women.
It is important to regularly consult a nutritional expert or physician to make sure that you are getting the recommended amounts of essential vitamins and minerals if you are a strict vegetarian or vegan. This way, you can know the right supplements to take to complement your eating habits and keep mineral or vitamin deficiencies at bay.