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Vitamins and Minerals Needed by Vegetarians

Vegetarian diet patterns are increasingly being applied by various ages. Considerations in applying this diet vary. Starting from the awareness to have a healthier diet, religious teachings, or certain principles related to environmentally friendly lifestyles. Whatever the reason, being vegetarian can provide health benefits if done correctly.

Medical studies have proven that vegetarians tend to have a lower body weight than those who regularly eat meat. In addition, the level of bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein LDL) in vegetarians is also lower so that the risk of coronary heart disease is lower.

Not only that, vegetarian food also has higher fiber. This causes vegetarians not to experience constipation. The risk for developing colon cancer later on is also lower.

Intake of vitamins and minerals that need to be considered by vegetarians

However, a vegetarian diet that does not consume meat, milk, dairy products, and / or eggs (total vegetarian or vegan), there are several types of vitamins and minerals which are often inadequate. Among others are:

1. Iron

Red meat such as beef, mutton, and lamb are high food sources of iron. By not eating red meat, susceptible iron intake is not fulfilled.

Iron deficiency can cause you to experience iron deficiency anemia which causes symptoms of weakness, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, and dizziness. If anemia is experienced severe enough, complaints of shortness of breath and palpitations can also be felt.

In order to meet iron requirements, vegetarians need to get iron from other foods such as broccoli, peas, long beans, green vegetables, seaweed, or iron fortified cereals. In addition, to increase the absorption of iron in the body, we recommend that these foods be consumed together with foods that are high in vitamin C such as lemons, oranges, or tomatoes.

2. Calcium

One of the best sources of calcium is cow's milk and cow's milk products such as cheese and yogurt. So, for vegetarians who still consume cow's milk (lacto or lacto-ovo vegetarian), calcium intake generally remains sufficient.

However, for vegans who do not consume milk and processed products, lack of calcium is prone to occur. Long-term calcium deficiency can cause tooth decay, osteoporosis, fragile bones, and cataracts. In fact, in severe circumstances, brain disorders can occur.

To prevent this from happening, you can get vegan calcium intake from green vegetables, tofu, and calcium fortified soy milk or oat milk.

Read Also : List of high calcium foods

3. Vitamin B12

The main sources of vitamin B12 are meat, fish, eggs and milk. Vegetables tend to have low vitamin B12. Therefore, vegetarians are very susceptible to vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause various symptoms such as anemia, easy to experience thrush, impaired vision, depression, and tingling. In severe and long-term conditions, vitamin B12 deficiency is prone to dementia.

To help meet vitamin B12 intake, vegetarians can consume cereals fortified with vitamin B12 and tempeh. Even so, often vegetarians need additional vitamin B12 supplements to meet their body's needs.

4. Protein

Meat, eggs and milk are high sources of protein. If vegetarians limit various types of protein sources, calcium deficiency can occur. In fact, protein is needed for muscle formation, transportation of various types of substances in the body, and maintaining fluid and hormone balance.

To prevent protein shortages, vegetarians can eat nuts, peanut butter, oats, and tofu.

Read Also : 6 Sources of Proteins That Can Reduce Weight

5. Vitamin D

This type of fat soluble vitamin can also be obtained from the consumption of animal foods. Everyone's vitamin D needs can vary, and vitamin D deficiency is often not only experienced by a vegetarian but also someone with a normal diet. Vitamin D is needed to maintain body immune function, cognitive function, and muscle growth. Basically, daily vitamin D needs for children and adults are around 600 IU, while the elderly and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers need around 800 IU. Your vitamin D needs may be higher than the daily recommendations.

6. Zinc

Zinc is a nutrient needed to strengthen the immune system and repair damaged body cells. Zinc deficiency can cause diarrhea symptoms and barriers to wound healing. As with iron, zinc from whole grains, tofu, nuts and seeds will also be more difficult to absorb by the body. Increasing consumption of these types of foods can overcome zinc deficiency in vegetarian individuals. The recommended daily zinc requirement for adults is around 9 mg, while for pregnant and lactating women it increases to 12-13 mg.

Being vegetarian is a good thing for health. Various studies have also proven that this diet is healthy for the body. However, pay attention to the selection of foods so that all the nutrients your body needs, certain vitamins and minerals, can still be fulfilled. If you are still confused, consult your diet with a nutritionist.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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