One of the common doubts among people switching to a vegan diet is whether plant-based food is going to provide their body with all the vital nutrients. Most often, people are advised under the wrong assumption that whole foods can easily meet their daily nutritional requirements, and are even encouraged to avoid using supplements. Following this can cause more harm, as well as result in nutritional deficiency, which might even undo the benefits of a plant-based diet. So, it is important to supplement your vegan diet with the 4 important nutrients listed below, read on to know more about them.
Often plant-based food like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, etc., are low on vitamin B12. Also, studies have shown that vegans and vegetarians are at a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency than people following a regular diet. Some of its symptoms are nervous system damage and anemia. Anemia occurs because this vitamin is important to produce red blood cells and the metabolism of proteins. However, it can be supplemented by consuming mushrooms grown in B12 rich soils, chlorella, nori, spirulina, and nutritional yeast. Apart from this, the scientifically recommended method is to consume vitamin B12 supplements or fortified foods like plant milk, breakfast cereals, soy products, and nutritional yeast.
Vitamin D is important for calcium and phosphorus absorption, and it is essential for memory, muscle recovery, and immune system function. Besides, it is a well-known fact that very few natural foods contain it. Because of this, people who strictly consume a plant-based meal have higher chances of developing vitamin D deficiency. However, exposure to midday sun helps the body to produce it. So, the best way to avoid its deficiency is to consume vitamin D supplements.
Long Chain Omega-3s
Long-chain omega-3 is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is not essential, but it plays an important structural role in our eyes and brain. Our body produces it from alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), hence consuming plant-based food like walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans, and hemp seeds are good for overall wellbeing. Also, keep in mind that its adequate dietary levels are important for reducing the risk of breast cancer, inflammation, avoiding brain development disorders, depression, and attention deficit disorder (ADHD). Moreover, research has shown that vegetarians and vegans have lower levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid levels in their body, so they need to supplement it in their diet.
Iodine is essential for proper metabolism because it influences thyroid function, and its deficiency causes hyperthyroidism. Also, studies have shown that vegans have a higher risk of its deficiency, so people consuming plant-based food must ensure that they have adequate levels of it in their diet. Adding 2.5 ml or half a teaspoon of iodized salt can help meet your daily requirement.
On a final note, when switching to a plant-based diet you must ensure that it is balanced, and the best way to ensure this is to consult a dietician.