7 key nutrients vegans may miss out on
Eating more fresh plant-based food is not only good for your health but the health of the planet too. Studies show that cutting back on eating animal products and embracing a plant-based diet is one of the biggest changes a person can make to their lifestyle to reduce their individual carbon footprint.
Far more resources are needed to produce a kilogram of meat than to produce a kilogram of plant-based food. That’s why following a plant-based diet and avoiding animal products can help to create a more sustainable planet. The choices you make can be as simple as only eating meat one day a week or swapping dairy milk in your morning coffee for a plant-based alternative. Each little change to your diet can make a difference.
Are you getting enough nutrients? If you’re loading up on nourishing plants, on the likes of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, you’re probably getting nearly all of the nutrients your body needs. But vegans can still be at risk of becoming deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.
Here are 7 key nutrients that vegans can potentially miss out on and which superfoods will boost a plant-based diet.
Vitamin B12 is needed for maintaining energy levels, supporting the immune system and boosting brain function. Since vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal-based foods like meat, fish, eggs and dairy, and some fortified vegan food options, it can be challenging for vegans to find plant-based sources of vitamin B12.
A deficiency in vitamin B12 can lead to fatigue, low blood pressure, degenerating vision, problems with memory and lowered immunity. If you don’t have enough vitamin B12 in your diet, this can result in anaemia and potential damage to the nervous system.
However, the answer isn’t as simple as loading up on vitamin B12 in one go. The body is unable to store vitamin B12 in large amounts since it is water-soluble. That’s why it’s best to take B12 regularly in small amounts.
Chlorella is one of the few natural plant sources of vitamin B12. If you’re concerned about your intake, try blending our Chlorella powder or our Green Blend into your morning smoothie for that daily dose of B12.
Calcium isn’t just found in dairy products. The bone-building mineral can be found in many plant-based foods including broccoli, sesame seeds, kale, tahini, almonds, lentils, fortified plant-based milk and even some varieties of tofu.
Calcium is needed to build and maintain healthy bones and teeth, so getting enough calcium is essential to avoid breaking and fracturing your bones.
If you want to boost your calcium intake to reach that 1000 milligrams-per-day goal, many of our superfoods are a source of calcium including our Chia Seeds and Acai, Barleygrass, Maca, Spirulina, Wheatgrass and Hemp Protein powders.
Vitamin D plays a key role in supporting the immune system, maintaining healthy bones, and supporting healthy muscle function. This vitamin also enhances the body’s ability to absorb calcium. While we can obtain vitamin D through exposure to the sun, during the winter months, it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D when the days are shorter and darker.
If you’re stuck in an office all day and unable to get your daily dose of vitamin D, consider eating foods rich in vitamin D. Our Organic Chlorella powder is a rich source of vitamin D which you can blend into smoothies and juices, mix into pasta sauces or even smash into your avocado on toast.
Iron contributes to the normal formation of red blood cells and haemoglobin and is essential for the normal and the transportation of oxygen in the body. Without enough iron, you can become anaemic, feel fatigued and weak.
There are two types of iron: heme iron and non-heme iron. Heme iron is found in animal sources such as meat and fish, whereas, non-heme iron comes from plant-based foods including legumes, nuts and leafy vegetables.
The body finds it more difficult to absorb and digest the non-heme iron found in plants than the heme iron found in meat and fish. This is why it may be harder for vegetarians and vegans to maintain healthy levels of iron. But it is possible, without needing to resort to iron supplements.
If you need a boost of iron in your diet, try snacking on a handful of chewy white mulberries, blending spirulina powder into a green smoothie or mixing wholesome chia seeds with plant-based milk to soak overnight for chia pudding.
Protein provides your muscles with energy when you exercise, improves muscle performance and contributes to building and maintaining lean body mass. There are loads of protein-rich plant-based foods including nuts, seeds and legumes, and many of our superfood powders are packed with plant protein.
Our Organic Hemp Protein powder, Chlorella powder and Spirulina powder, all boast impressive amounts of plant protein, 49%, 61% and 67% protein content respectively, which contribute to building and maintaining muscle mass and aiding muscle recovery when you exercise.
Oily fish is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly two types called EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) which contribute to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. A plant source of omega-3 is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), but our bodies can only convert 10-30% of ALA into DHA for the body to be able to process. This is why vegans can be at risk of being deficient in omega-3.
It’s no secret that Chia Seeds are a nutritional powerhouse and these tiny black seeds are one of the richest sources of plant-based omega-3, as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which can help to increase your good cholesterol and protect against heart disease. Chia Seeds are incredibly versatile and easy to include in your diet. You can blend them into your pre-workout smoothie, roll into energy balls, make chia crispbreads or mix with water to use as an egg replacement in your favourite baking recipes.
Zinc is essential for protecting the body’s cells from oxidative stress, supporting the immune system, normal cognitive function and maintaining healthy bones.
That’s not all. Zinc contributes to protein synthesis, enabling the body to repair muscle and aid your recovery time after working out.
Not many plant-based foods contain zinc, and when it is in plants, it isn’t easily absorbed by the body.
Hemp is a rich source of zinc as well as protein and omega-3. Our delicious, Organic Hemp Protein powder which is made from cold-pressed, ground hemp seeds, tastes deliciously nutty and can be incorporated into a range of recipes including blending into smoothies, rolling into falafel and even to bake in nourishing protein-rich bread.