Tips & How-to

The 5 essential nutrients a new vegan is most likely to forget

Changing your diet requires research.

If you plan on making any major changes to your diet, then you should always do your research beforehand. It doesn’t matter whether you’re changing your diet to lose weight or because of your beliefs – the risks are the same. If you chose to remove a particular food group, you should always research the essential nutrients those food groups offer, and find an alternative source for those nutrients.

Going vegan is a great diet option for anyone who wants to remove any and all animal products from their diet. However, many animal products are a source of essential vitamins and nutrients. If you plan to remove animal products from your diet, then you should research the nutrients you will need to replace, and even consult a professional dietitian or nutritionist to ensure your body is getting all the things it needs.

Unfortunately, many people – whether cutting carbs or animal products – fail to do their research and as a result their body suffers from a deficit of essential vitamins and minerals. If you’re new to the vegan diet – these are the four most common vitamins and minerals you are most likely to forget to adequately replace.

vegan japanese food
(Credit: Getty) (Credit: Getty)

B12

Vitamin B12 is essential for making red blood cells, DNA, and neurotransmitters for brain function. Vitamin B12 is abundant in animal meats, milk and dairy products. For vegans, a good source of Vitamin B12 are fortified soy or nut milks and meat substitutes, however some vegans may require a supplement.

Iron

The human body needs iron to create haemoglobin in red blood cells, which carries oxygen around the body. The main sources of iron are wholegrain cereals, chicken, fish and other animal meats. Great vegan options for iron are wholegrains, beans, legumes, dark leafy greens and dried fruit, seeds and nuts.  

Calcium

Calcium is essential for the development of healthy bones, heart, muscle and nerve function. Calcium is obviously abundant in cow’s milk products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. However, vegans will find calcium in tofu or bean curd, some fortified soy and nut drinks, and nuts, seeds and legumes can also be a source of calcium. Other vegies that can   satisfy your calcium needs are kale, broccoli, oranges, almonds, chickpeas, bok choy and cabbage.

Iodine

Essential for regulating the metabolic system and growth hormones, Iodine is found in seafood, dairy products and eggs. Good vegan substitutes for iodine are iodised salt and bread made using iodised salt, soy and nut milk drinks fortified with essential nutrients, and seaweed.

Protein

Humans need protein to build and repair the cells that keep your body functioning. Protein is most often found in animal meat products, but you can also find heaps of protein in beans, pulses, tofu and tempeh. Other options include whole grain toast, nuts, seeds, quinoa.

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