Health & Wellness

Vegetarian Diets and Meeting Recommended Nutrients

Following a vegetarian diet and meeting recommended nutrients is absolutely doable. However it’s important to be aware of nutrients to focus on, such as calcium, iron, protein and vitamin B12. A successful vegetarian diet includes a variety of foods and enough food in order to meet calorie needs. It’s important to create meals around protein sources that are low in fat, such as beans, lentils, and rice.

Calcium, which is important for many physiological activities such as muscle movement, blood clotting, cell membrane function and more, and maintaining bone strength and building strong bones, can come from calcium-fortified soymilk, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and some dark green leafy vegetables, such as bok choy, collard greens, mustard greens and turnip greens.

Iron, which is essential for the regulation of cell growth and differentiation and an essential component of proteins involved in oxygen transport, can come from black-eyed peas, dried fruits, kidney beans, molasses, peas, spinach, turnip greens, and whole wheat breads. Think bean burritos and bean or lentil burgers.

Protein, which is essential for growth, maintenance and more important body functions, can come from plant-based foods, such as beans, nuts, peas, and soy products. Lacto-ovo vegetarians can also eat eggs and milk products for protein sources.

Vitamin B12 can come from eggs, milk products and other foods that are fortified with vitamin B12, including breakfast cereals, soymilk, and veggie burgers.

Age, sex and physical activity level are each also important to the success of a vegetarian diet.