Is A Vegan Diet Healthier?
Many people eat a vegan diet to be healthier. However, getting the right nutrients as a vegan or vegetarian can be tricky. Watch out for these 5 common nutrient deficiencies and know the simple fixes to follow.
1. The bone strengthener
When people think about calcium, the first thought is often of milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy sources. However, those who follow a vegan diet don’t consume any animal products. Calcium is a crucial nutrient for bone health, heart health, nerve, and muscle function. Vegans should make sure to consume beans, legumes, leafy greens, or tofu. In some cases, a supplement may be recommended.
2. An immune booster
Some nutrients are absorbed more efficiently through animal sources. One of these is zinc, a crucial nutrient for warding off illness and boosting the immune system. Again, zinc is found in many dairy products, which poses a challenge for vegans. Incorporate foods like mushrooms, lentils, black-eyed peas, or wheat germ into a daily diet.
3. The good fats
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart health, mental health, and brain development. The most common source of this supplement is oily fish or fish oil. For vegans, the body can produce DHA from consuming the fatty acid ALA. Some good sources for vegans include chia seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds. However, because this process of conversion can be less efficient, vegans may want to consider finding a vegan omega-3 supplement.
4. This B vitamin
Some of the essential nutrients for the nervous system are the B family vitamins, specifically vitamin B12. Research has shown that vegetarians and vegans are at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency. That’s because vegan sources of B12 are few. Certain mushrooms, spirulina, and nutritional yeast are a few natural options. However, many vegans may need to take a B vitamin supplement.
5. A thyroid controller
One nutrient that is not thought about as often is iodine. This nutrient is vital for a healthy thyroid, and deficiency can increase the risk of hypothyroidism. Because seafood and dairy products are some of the only foods considered high in iodine, vegans are typically at risk for a deficiency. Iodized salt and seaweed are the two natural sources for vegans to consider. Otherwise, a supplement may be necessary.
Making a vegan diet work
A vegan diet can have many health benefits, such as lowered blood sugar, reduced inflammation, and decreased risk for heart disease. However, vegans should make sure to get the right nutrients from food sources or take some specific supplements. For more information on supplement recommendations, speak with a pharmacist or healthcare provider.
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