Worried about getting enough protein into your vegetarian diet? You should be. Because protein is one of those nutrients it is tricky for a vegetarian to get enough of.
But it is not the only one.
In fact, iron, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12 can also be a problem in a vegetarian diet.
But don't worry. Because I scored us a great guest post from the Elephant Pharmacy nutritionist which will tell you exactly how you can easily get everything your body needs (by the way, if you are not familiar with Elephant Pharmacy, it is small, unique chain of holistic pharmacies that originated in Berkeley and is well worth checking out if you are ever in Northern California).
And you'll be delighted at how easy it is to be healthy!
Health Tips for Vegetarians
By Dr. Binal Shah, Naturopathic Doctor and Nutritionist for Elephant Pharmacy
There are many myths revolving around vegetarian diets. Many consider vegetarians deficient in various nutrients. On the other hand, the vegetarian diet has been proven to prevent many diseases. In a well-balanced vegetarian diet, there will be a similar amount and variety of nutrients as in a meat-eater's diet. However, vegetarians do need to be more alert in eating well-balanced meals in order to acquire proper nutrients. Eating a variety of beans, unprocessed grains, and vegetables will guarantee an optimal level of nutrient quality and density. Some of the most common nutrient deficiencies in vegetarians are protein, iron, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12.
How to get enough protein in the vegetarian diet
Protein is found in adequate levels in all beans, grains, and vegetables. High protein levels are found in adzuki beans, mung beans, quinoa, millet, brown rice, and kale. One pound of kale has more protein than one pound of beef. Good supplemental sources of protein would be hemp or rice protein powders.
Iron for the vegetarian
Iron is found in green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and green leafy vegetables, along with vitamin C which helps the absorption of iron. In addition to this, herbs such as dandelion leaf, yellowdock root and nettle are also high in iron. Supplemental iron can be added with "Blood Builder" from MegaFoods or "Floradix Iron" by Salus. Both of these are vegetarian, whole food based iron supplements, with proven higher absorption rates compared to synthetic supplements.
How to get Vitamin D, safely
Vitamin D has gotten much attention in recent research and news. Vitamin D is a key ingredient in the body. Food sources of Vitamin D are cod liver oil, fish, and fortified milk. For most vegetarians, Vitamin D supplementation may be warranted more so than any other nutrient. MegaFoods makes an excellent D3 supplement, made from sheep wool- as opposed to the more common fish-based Vitamin D supplements. When supplementing Vitamin D, make sure it is D3 not D2.
How every vegetarian can get enough Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is the last important nutrient that may often be deficient in vegetarian diets. Food sources of B12 include meat, fish, dairy, eggs, tofu and raw bran. B12 may be supplemented by adding Nutritional yeast to the diet or by taking a B-complex supplement. MegaFoods, New Chapter, and Pioneer are a few companies that make excellent B-vitamin complexes.
It is always ideal to get the nutrients we need from the food we eat. Consult with a nutritional expert on what supplements may best suit your needs.