Skip to content

Nutritional Deficiencies Of Being A Vegetarian

What is a vegetarian diet? It all depends on what type of vegetarian you are. Lacto-vegetarians include dairy products, and ovo-vegetarians include eggs. Lacto-ovo includes both. Pescatarians cut out land-based animal products but include fish. The type of vegetarian that is most susceptible to nutritional deficiencies is the vegan diet. It excludes all animal products, including honey, gelatin, and rennet. Eliminating all animal products excludes several important nutrients.

B12 is a big problem.

B12 is necessary for heart, nerve, and muscle health. It’s vital for DNA synthesis. It’s primarily found in animal products but can be found in a few plant sources. Nutritional yeast, algae, and shitake mushrooms. You can find nutritional yeast at many stores. It has a cheesy flavor that compliments many dishes. It only takes a tablespoon of nutritional yeast to fulfill the daily requirement of B12. It takes four grams of dried seaweed and 50 grams of shitake mushrooms to fulfill the B12 requirement. Fortified foods are another option for vegans.

If you can’t get sunshine, you need to supplement vitamin D.

The easiest way to get adequate vitamin D is with safe sunning. The body uses the ultraviolet rays of the sun and cholesterol to create vitamin D. Philadelphia is too far north to get adequate sun year around, so during the winter months, supplements and food are the solutions for vegetarians. For people who include dairy, drinking fortified milk is an excellent option. Ovo-vegetarians can consume egg yolk. For those that eat fish, just keep eating it. Fish is a source of vitamin D. Wild mushrooms, mushrooms exposed to artificial light, and nut milk contain higher amounts of vitamin D.

Plants don’t contain collagen.

Collagen is necessary for all parts of the body, especially the skin. Your body manufactures collagen, but it also gets a lot from animal sources. Since plants don’t have it, consuming the nutrients to boost collagen production is required. Those include copper, food high in vitamin C, and zinc. Zinc can also be a problem. While many plants contain it, it’s more bioavailable in animal products. Bioavailability means that your body can use it. Many plants containing zinc have phytates that bind to zinc and prevent it from being absorbed.

  • Food from both plants and animals contains iron, but it’s more bioavailable in animal sources. Iodine is another food that all but pescatarians may lack unless the vegetarian uses iodized salt or consumes sea vegetables.
  • Vegetarians may fail to balance amino acids and lack certain amino acids. Luckily companion foods can provide a good balance. One example is red beans and rice.
  • Both omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 are available in vegan diets, but people, whether vegan or not, often fail to get adequate omega-3. Make sure your diet includes walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of choosing food just because it’s labeled vegan. Some are healthy, but many are not. They often contain higher amounts of sugar, salt, or additives. Artificial meat like the Impossible Burger is higher in sodium.

For more information, contact us today at Urban Athlete

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software