Common reasons why people go vegan is that they are concerned about animal welfare, trying to reduce their environmental footprint, and even wanting to be healthy. Whatever reasons why people embrace the vegan lifestyle, one thing is for sure, some of their nutrient needs may not be met adequately. And four vitamins and minerals are commonly lacking in a vegan diet, and these are:
1 – Iron
Animal meat is rich in iron and iron is the reason why our blood has that vibrant red color. Iron is essential in the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the cells all over your body. Thus, iron plays a crucial role in various bodily activities like promotion of a healthy immune system and energy production in the muscles.
Absorption of iron is also affected by various factors. Iron from plant-based food has less absorbability than from animal sources. Inclusion of vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables can help increase iron absorption from plant sources. Then there are also foods that can inhibit iron absorption like phytates, zinc, and calcium in vegetable proteins, grains, rice, and legumes.
2 – Iodine
Iodine is commonly found in seafood, and it is essential in making thyroid hormones, which play a role in the development of the central nervous system, regulation of metabolism, and for healthy growth and development. When a person is deficient in iodine, it can cause myriads of health issues like stillbirth, miscarriage, and congenital anomalies in women. It can also lead to constipation, dry skin, hair loss, facial puffiness, depression, muscular weakness, and lethargy, to name a few.
When it comes to vegan food rich in iodine, it would all depend on the iodine content of the soil where the plant was grown. So, the best way to ensure adequate iodine intake for vegans is to use iodine fortified foods like iodized salt and fortified nut or soymilks.
3 – Calcium
The most known source of calcium is cow’s milk; that’s why infants, toddlers, and school-age children are given cow’s milk to help with bone and teeth development and maintenance. Bones are the body’s reserve for calcium, which is vital in muscle movement and the continuous beating of the heart.
For vegans, eating foods fortified with calcium is the best solution to solve deficiency: calcium-fortified cereals, nut milk, and soymilk. Legumes, seeds, nuts, bean curd, and tofu are also plant-based foods that have a good content of calcium.
Another thing that vegans need to understand is that oxalic and phytic acid content in vegetables may inhibit calcium absorption and thus the need to consume more food rich in said nutrient. Foods that contain oxalic and phytic acid are soy products, some raw beans, grains, nuts, seeds, rhubarb, and spinach.
4 – Vitamin B12
Organ meats are rich in vitamin B12, and this vitamin is crucial in the creation of red blood cells. It is also essential in the production of neurotransmitters for proper brain function and the creation of myelin sheaths that insulate nerves. When a person is deficient in this vitamin impaired bladder and bowel control, visual disturbances, mood changes, memory loss, movement problems, impotence, weight loss, and bruising to name a few may occur.
Algae and some mushrooms are a naturally occurring source of vitamin B12 in the vegan diet. But now there are also vegan food sources that are fortified with vitamin B12 to ensure sufficiency in the diet.
Inspired by www.afr.com/
Vegans Need to Look Closer at Nutrient Content
While veganism and vegetarianism are growing diets, there are still some issues that people need to be aware of when consuming food this way. As we mentioned above, many plant-based foods don’t have high concentrations of the nutrients mentioned above. We created our GrandFusion® fruit and vegetable powders to help solve this problem. With our fruit and veggie powders, vegan product manufacturers can now add plant-based vitamins to their products to ensure that vegans are getting the necessary nutrients. Are you creating a new plant-based product for vegans? Download our whitepaper on how to develop functional foods and beverages with GrandFusion® fruit and veggie powders.