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6 Nutrients Every Vegetarian Needs

6 Nutrients Every Vegetarian Needs

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”  ~Albert Einstein

As people strive to improve their health and evolve their food choices to a more plant-based diet, it is easy to get lost along the way. You can happily end up living on chocolate whole-wheat croissants for breakfast, cheese pizza for lunch and a large bowl of Fettuccine Alfredo for  dinner; but the pounds will eventually stack up as your energy declines. When you transition to a more vegetarian way of eating it is important to educate yourself about the nutrients your body will need on a daily basis.

Learn how to create a balance of vegetable protein, carbohydrates and quality fats with each meal. You must also replace the six essential nutrients provided by animal proteins with plant-based foods containing the protein, iron, zinc, calcium, B12, and Essential Fatty Acids that are reduced with the elimination of meat, poultry, pork and fish. The fun part is putting them together into delicious recipes and then chewing slowly for the full satisfying experience.

1. PROTEIN
A crucial part of any diet, the average RDA for women is 45 grams and for men 55 grams, which you can easily consume in the form of:

  • Beans, legumes, lentils and peas
  • Fermented soy products in the form of tempeh, miso, and natto
  • Free range eggs
  • Raw milk, cheese and yogurt.
  • Nuts and seeds, which benefit from soaking in water or sprouting first
  • Non-dairy nut and seed milks

NOTE: Pseudo-meats and other pretend protein foods should be avoided if possible, as they are highly processed foods with a list of ingredients as long as my arm. In an article by Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. they write that, “Phytic acid remaining in these soy products greatly inhibits zinc and iron absorption; test animals fed soy protein isolate develop enlarged organs, particularly the pancreas and thyroid gland, and increased deposition of fatty acids in the liver.”

2, 3. IRON AND ZINC
Strong, healthy blood requires proper amounts of Iron and a vegetarian diet can provide plenty. Average RDA for woman 19-50 years is 18mg, women 51+ years is 8mg and adult male is 8mg.

Because the human body does not store Zinc, it is essential to obtain it from the food you eat. Zinc is responsible for cellular metabolism, immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis and cell division. The RDA for adult women is 8mg and for men is 11mg.

  • Green leafy vegetables: kale, collards, cabbage, spinach, and broccoli
  • Nuts, seeds: almonds and cashews
  • Beans, lentils, legumes, peas, in cooked and sprouted form
  • Fruits and dried fruits: apricots, dates, and raisins
  • Date syrup and molasses
  • Whole grains and whole grain flours

4. CALCIUM
In a nutshell, your body needs calcium to maintain strong bones and teeth, and for your nervous system to function properly. The RDA for adults is 1000-1200mg and can be found in a variety of foods, such as:

  • Dark greens: broccoli, kale and Chinese cabbage
  • Sea Vegetables: wakame, arame, dulse, hijiki, and kelp
  • Dairy products: milk, yogurt and cheese

5. VITAMIN B12
Vegans and vegetarians who do not eat eggs or dairy will need to take this essential nutrient in the form of a B complex supplement that includes the RDA for B12 of 1.5 microgram for adults. Fermented soy, shitake mushrooms, sea vegetables and algae contain something similar to B12, but it does not work in the body in the same way as B12 from animal sources. Some nutritional yeast food products contain some Vitamin B12.

6. ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS
The body needs quality fats to help absorb the ‘fat soluble’ vitamins A, D, E and K, to regulate cholesterol, provide energy, maintain heart health and a number of other important functions. Saturated fats from animal sources is limited in a vegetarian diet, but hydrogenated and trans fats in baked goods and chips should be avoided for their harmful health effects. Recommended RDA for Omega Fatty Acids is 1-2 tablespoons.

  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Raw butter and clarified butter
  • Coconut oil: a saturated vegetable oil that has proven beneficial in the diet
  • Omega-3 oils: Flax, hemp and walnut oils

Related Links:
10 Delicious Vegetarian Recipes
21 Sources of Protein for Vegetarians

Read more: Blogs, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, General Health, Health, Rejuvenate your Body with Delia Quigley

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Delia Quigley

Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle based on her 30 years of study, experience and practice. She is the creator of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics, and Broken Bodies Yoga. Delia's credentials include author, artist, natural foods chef, yoga instructor, energy therapist and public speaker. Follow Delia's blogs: brcleanse.blogspot.com and. To view her website go to www.deliaquigley.com

452 comments

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6:29AM PST on Dec 26, 2013

thanks for this - v. helpful

7:33AM PST on Dec 2, 2013

Go veg!

2:09PM PST on Nov 21, 2013

As a Veggie the info is much appreciated! Thank you

1:21AM PDT on Sep 23, 2013

What? *Pet* chickens who will live out their natural lives have nothing to look forward to but being murdered! And you think you don't need to explain that!!!??? Chazz, I feel like shouting "I'M NOT COLD AND HEARTLESS EITHER!!!!!!!!"

However I believe in polite debate and I can't be doing with those internet 'discussions' where the rudest person 'wins'! I'm not saying you do this but I would welcome a genuine debate with you. Please read on to see why I think you have yet to put forward a viable explanation for your attitude...

If you really love birds, you become an ornithologist and study them, and that includes getting an idea of their real feelings. That is very far removed from being cold and heartless! If you only love them from a distance, you just project the first human analogy that comes to mind, and entrench yourself in it.... then you don't let anyone who loves birds enough to *study* them tell you that things are not what you think at first sight?

I know it's human nature to jump at first impressions and then become deeply attached to your own ideas. I also detect a touch of 'holier than thou', which of course never made any converts.

1:20AM PDT on Sep 23, 2013

You think you explained it all by talking about people stealing my children to eat until the day when they come to eat me. I've tried to explain that hens reserve maternal feelings for fertile eggs that they are incubating. Now, as a woman, my body used to rid itself of an unfertilised egg every month, and I assure you that, like every other woman, I had no maternal feelings or sense of loss about those eggs. It is vastly different from being pregnant but suffering a miscarriage. As for living every day dreading the day when you will be murdered, you have surely seen photos on the news of a murder victim before the event - happy and smiling! - because they have no way of knowing what is coming!

I've visited your profile and see you are on a mission to convert many people as possible to veganism. Well, I don't think dismissing me as 'cold and heartless' which I most certainly am not, is going the right way about it!

2:40PM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

Nothing for me to have to explain. I am just not cold and heartless.

7:43AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

Thanks

7:13AM PDT on Sep 22, 2013

Chazz, on second thoughts I don't think you bothered to read beyond my first paragraph! I mentioned *pet* chickens who will never be eaten, but you are still talking about them feeling gloomy because one day they wIll be murdered....

You will not win converts to your way of thinking by dismissing their intelligent explanations out of hand because they don't measure up to your standards of anthropomophism! I'm waiting for you to come back and explain just why these chickens foresee a gloomy future, or are so attached to eggs they can't even be bothered to incubate!

3:39PM PDT on Sep 21, 2013

Chazz, I'm not cold about it! I happen to be very fond of chickens and I haven't eaten one for years! You've now read that the hens haven't gone broody and the eggs aren't fertile but you still want to think they miss those eggs as they would do if they were brooding fertile eggs. Why should they? They *know*, as Nicole said...

I also told you about hens who are never going to be murdered because they are pets, but you overlooked that. You make it sound as though they spend their days in gloom, fretting over the day when they might be dead before their time. No, they live in the present....

I'll tell you what they have to look forward to! They look forward to scratching around for food like the wild Red Junglefowl, to keeping company with their friends, to having a good dust bath... Living in the present!

As an ornithologist, I do study bird behaviour, and the behaviour of these chickens is the same as that of the wild junglefowl. So if the wild birds are happy, then it follows the domestic ones I'm talking about are too!

Do you know about organisations that rehome ex-battery hens? Timid half-naked birds creep out of transport boxes, but within a week they are behaving like their wild ancestors! Not cringing around mourning infertile eggs and pondering eventual doom!

10:03AM PDT on Sep 21, 2013

Like I said, all they have to look forward to is having their eggs stolen, and or being murdered as food some one will eat. You can be cold about that if you wish, but I wont.

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