How to ensure your diet as a vegetarian or vegan is nutritionally adequate!
Depending on the type of vegetarianism, some people will choose to avoid all animal based products or may only consume certain products, such as dairy products or eggs. Some nutritional deficiencies can potentially occur with a vegetarian or vegan diet, although if well planned, it can provide you with all the nutrients you need for good health.
Our resident dietitician, Michelle Bremang has shared some top tips on how to gain the nutritional value required in your diet, whilst still living a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle:
We need vitamin B12 for a healthy blood and nervous system. It is found naturally in foods from animal sources so if you eat dairy products and eggs, you should be able to consume sufficient amounts. Vegan sources are limited to fortified products such as non-dairy milks, breakfast cereals and yeast extracts, therefore a nutritional supplement may be needed to prevent deficiency.
Calcium is important to maintain optimum bone health. Non-vegans will receive most of their calcium from dairy foods such as milk, cheese and yoghurt. Good sources of calcium for vegans will include fortified non-dairy milks, green leafy vegetables (not spinach), nuts and seeds such as sesame seeds and almonds, calcium-set tofu and dried fruit such as prunes, figs and dried apricots.
The iron from plant-based foods is less-well absorbed compared to the iron contained in meat. Consuming more fruit and vegetables can help as they are high in vitamin C, which increases the amount of iron your body absorbs. Good sources of iron include beans and pulses, eggs, nuts, dried fruit, fortified breakfast cereals and dark green leafy vegetables such as watercress, broccoli and spring greens.
Omega-3 fatty acids
These are found in large amounts in oily fish and can help reduce the risk of heart disease when eaten as part of a healthy balanced diet. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids for vegetarians include omega-3 enriched eggs, walnuts, rapeseed oil and soya based items such as soya milk and tofu. Unfortunately these sources are not as rich as that found in oily fish so it is important to include them on a regular basis in order to get adequate amounts.
For more information on our dietitic services or to arrange an appointment contact Michelle Bremang on 020 7971 8206 or click here.