Important nutrients vegetarian and vegans should be aware of [what they are, why our body needs them and where to find them]

Our body is amazing and complex as it can heal and nurture itself provided that we give it the necessary nutrients it needs to function properly. However in todays diet for vegetarians, vegans and even meat eaters are deficient in many important nutrients. For vegetarian and vegans there are some nutrients that we are more deficient in than the meat eaters are as they derive those nutrients via the meat. But don’t worry, mother nature provides us veggie eaters with those nutrients in plants as well, we just need to be aware of them and know to add them into our diet. What they are and where to find them you can learn here…

OMEGA 3/DHA

Vegan Omega 3 source ground flaxseed.png

Why our body needs Fat

Our body’s cells are made up of a mixture of fats and proteins, our hormones, brain and liver also need healthy fats to function properly. Fat is also our long term storage of energy, it keeps us warm in winter and aids in creating healthy skin and hair!

Essential Fatty Acids: Omega 3, 6 and 9

There are fats that are essential for our body and are made up of omega 3, 6 and 9. Omega 9 is produced by our body and we don’t need to ingest it via our food. However, we do not produce omega 3 or 6 and therefore we must eat them via our food. The problem in our diet today is that we eat much more omega 6 (good and bad ones) and not enough omega 3 fatty acids which creates an unbalance in our body and causes inflammation in our arteries. This inflammation if caused over a longer period of time can lead to heart disease or strokes. In a healthy diet our omega 3 to 6 ratio should be 1 omega 3 ingested to 1 omega 6 [1:1]. However most people have a ratio of 1 omega3 to 20 omega 6 [1:20]. So we need to work on getting the balance back to its healthy state. Scientists suggest that a rate of 1 omega 3 to 4 omega 6 [1:4] is recommended for a healthy balance.

Non-Vegetarian Sources of Omega 3

It is known that the best source for omega 3  is fatty fish such as  salmon or tuna fish. However with the consumption of fish also comes the added saturated fat as well as the increased consumption of the toxin mercury. Mercury is the toxin found in the ocean thanks to the waste we dump into the ocean and is now known to be cancer causing. Furthermore we have been overfishing our oceans and a lot of fish have become almost extinct due to this which can create an imbalance and extinction of other fish in the ocean. Of cause there is also the point of animal cruelty of the fishing itself. So for the above reasons I would reduce the amount of fish eaten and perhaps make up for the difference with the vegan sources of omega 3.

Vegan and vegetarian sources of omega 3

The most effective and cheapest source of omega 3 are ground flaxseeds! Just be aware that ground flaxseed must be stored in the fridge and be consumed within 3 months. Dr. Michael Greger, who has this amazing vegan, non-profit website called nutritionfacts.org showing and explaining nutrition facts on health and wellbeing, recommends 1 -2  table spoons of flaxseeds per day which gives you the equivalent of omega 3 of eating fish 1-2 twice per week without the added mercury or unhealthy fat 🙂 Furthermore the flaxseeds MUST BE grounded because our stomach cant digest and use the nutrients of whole flaxseeds! Other great sources of omega 3 are walnuts, chia seeds and quinoa seeds.

Best way to eat them is to simply add your omega 3 flaxseeds, walnuts or chia seeds into your daily breakfast, add them into baking cookies or muffins or sprinkle them over your salad!

The healthy omega 6 sources are derived from organic extra virgin olive oil, primrose oil or avocados to name a few.

 

Vitamin B12

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Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that is made by soil microbes that you can find in soil and fresh water. Animal are able to get B12 as they eat the grass from the soil and drink the water from rivers without cleaning it first. We humans however are sanitizing our food and water and therefore we remove the B12 from our food and water. Therefore vegetarians and vegans need to ensure that they get B12 via supplements. (See video from Dr. Michael Klaper below for reference)

Why our body needs vitamin B12

  • Spinal and brain function
  • Supports our metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins and hence provides us with more energy
  • Helps maintain normal blood levels
  • Aids in cardiovascular health
  • Helps to support our nervous system function

Vegetarian sources of B12

You can find B12 in fish, oysters, cows milk and quark (form of cows milk yoghurt). As mentioned above the ill effects of fish are the increased intake of mercury and saturated fat. Dairy also contains a high amount of saturated fat and in case ofd cheese also a high amount of salt. There are studies that show that a high consumption of dairy products can also lead to cancer. One of those studies is the famous China Study performed by Dr T Colin Campbell (see video below) as well as the result from other scientists from China and India.

Vegan sources of vitamin B12

Unfortunately there are only supplements for vegans to take. You can go to any pharmacist or health food store that supplies vegan supplements of B12. Dr. Michael Greger states in his YouTube talk shown below ” 40 year old vegan dies of a heart attack” that you can take one B12 tablet once per day as any excess of vitamin B12 is peed out again, so no harm done, except for it being expensive urine 🙂

Make sure you do not take B12 and iodine at the same time as its cancels out the absorption from both vitamins/minerals. Hence divide the intake during your week.

Iodine

veggie source of iodine iodized rock salt.png

Why our body needs iodine

You also need to ensure that you get enough iodine in your diet as iodine is vital for healthy thyroid function and the thyroid is essential for the production of our hormones. According to Dr. Michael Klaper many people who change from a carnivore diet to a vegetarian or vegan diet often feel tiered at the start and as he found out its is mainly due to a lack of iodine in those peoples diet.

Vegetarian and vegan sources of iodine

  • Sea vegetables like kelp or wakame (you can order it in Japanese restaurants or stores)
  • Kelp is very high in iodine and you can buy it in a salt sprinkle Just use little of it as it has a lot of iodine in it
  • Iodized salt but make sure that it states “iodized” on the package as natural sea salt does not contain iodine unless it has been added!

Make sure you do not take B12 and iodine at the same time as its cancels out the absorption from both vitamins/minerals. Hence divide the intake during your week.

Dr Eddy Bettermann has a great blog called “Iodine supplements and dosages” where he goes into more detail about iodine and the importance of it.

 

Iron

vegan and vegetarian source of iron green leavy veggies

Why our body needs iron

Our body needs iron to help make red blood cells and also aids in the transport of oxygen in our blood. People who iron deficient often feel tiered, fatigued and have a decreased immune efficiency. However you also do not want to take too much iron as this can lead to constipation.

 Vegetarian and vegan sources of iron

  • Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach or broccoli
  • Almonds and other nuts
  • Beans and lentils
  • Dark chocolate
  • Wholegrain bread

 

Zinc

vegan and vegetarian source of zinc and iron pumpkin seeds and nuts

Why our body needs zinc

Zinc is found in almost all our cells in the body and are needed for our metabolism as well as for making proteins. Zink also helps our body for wound healing, taste, smell and immune system! Another important factor is that alcohol decreases the absorption of zinc and that vegetarians and vegans are often deficient of it.

Vegetarian and vegan sources of zinc

  • Beans and lentil
  • Nuts
  • Seeds, especially pumpkin seeds

 

Conclusion

As you can see our body truly needs all the nutrients as each nutrients aids different functions in our body. Many of those functions have not yet been discovered yet as our body is that complex. Needless to say, we must make sure that we get enough of every micro and macro nutrients to be at our best health and by being aware of what you may lack  if you change your diet to a vegetarian and vegan, or even if you still eat everything, is the first step to great health!

One this note, please find below amazing videos from amazing nutritional scentists and doctors on YouTube that talk about it in more detail 🙂

Dr. Michael Greger: 40 Year Old Vegan Dies of a Heart Attack

 

Dr Michael Klaper: “What I wish someone had told me at medical school

 

Dr T. Colin Campbell: Animal Protein- Meat and Dairy- Cause Cancer

 

Healthy living!

LoveRosa

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