3 Essential Vitamins That Every Veggie Needs
There’s no disputing that a vegetarian or vegan diet is fantastic for your health, eating a mostly plant-based diet lowers your rate of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. But while a well-planned veggie diet can supply most of the nutrition you need, there are a few essential vitamins and minerals that veggies need to be extra diligent about.
Think of a vegetarian or vegan diet and you probably think of plates bursting with fruits and vegetables, a gorgeous rainbow abundant with vitamins. There is one vitamin however – vitamin B12 – that can only be found in animal sources.
Why we need it: B12 plays a big role in helping produce the DNA in our cells and the neurotransmitters in our brains. Too little of it and you're at risk for numbness in your hands and feet, trouble balancing, weakness and fatigue.
How to get it: Vegetarians can load up on eggs and cheese for their daily B12 intake. Vegans need to look for fortified soy milk, yeast extracts like Marmite or take supplements.
While substantial daily sunlight can account for much of your daily Vitamin D allowance, just how much you get depends on the season, the time of day, whether there's clouds or smog as well as skin type.
Why we need it: Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium so a lack of it can lead to bone deformities, bone pain and muscle weakness.
How to get it: In food sources, Vitamin D is primarily found in fish (good news pescatarians), egg yolks and fortified cheese. Vegans and vegetarians whose sun exposure and diets are falling short, you can also take it in pill form.
Milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy foods pack the biggest calcium punch, so if you don’t eat them—or don’t eat them regularly enough—it can be tough to get enough.
Why we need it: This mineral is essential for strong bones and teeth, and also plays an important role in proper blood vessel and nerve function.
How to get it: If you don't eat dairy and don't wanto take a supplement, make sure you are eating 2-3 servings of calcium-rich foods like tofu, edamame, broccoli, leafy green vegetables a day.
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