What are good sources of nutrients that vegetarian diets sometimes lack?

Below is a list of the nutrients that vegetarian diets lack sometimes and the foods to eat so you get enough of them:
  • Vitamin B-12 - B12 is only found in animal products and fortified foods, so it can be difficult for those who follow a vegan diet to get enough of it. You can get some B-12 from fortified soy and rice beverages, fortified breakfast cereals, fortified meat substitutes, and nutritional yeasts. People who follow a vegan diet should take a daily supplement to get enough. Most multi-vitamins have B-12, but check the label to make sure. It should be listed as cobalamin or cyanocobalamin. Dairy products and eggs are a good source of B-12 for lacto-ovo-vegetarians.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Get them from walnuts, ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil, soybeans, soybean oil, canola oil, or wheat germ.
  • Calcium - Get this from dairy products if you include them in your diet. Calcium is also in leafy green vegetables (bok choy, Chinese cabbage, collards, kale, mustard greens, and turnip greens), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, fortified fruit juices, calcium-set tofu, fortified soy milk or rice milk, and fortified breakfast cereals. Note that spinach is not a good source of calcium even though it is a leafy green vegetable. Other compounds in spinach prevent the calcium it has from being absorbed and used in the body.
  • Vitamin D - Get this from fortified milk, fortified yogurt, cheese, or egg yolk if you include them in your diet. It is also in some brands of fortified soy milk and rice milk, fortified orange juice, and some fortified breakfast cereals and margarines. Sun exposure can also help your body make its own vitamin D. Some experts are starting to recommend vitamin D supplements, especially for older adults.
  • Iron - Iron-deficiency anemia is as common in vegetarian diets as it is in non-vegetarian diets. Get iron from beans, lentils, dried fruits, enriched grain products, tofu, and cooked green vegetables. Try to eat these iron sources with a good source of vitamin C like citrus fruits (oranges, lemon/lemon juice, and grapefruit), tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, or strawberries. This will help your body better absorb the iron.

Continue Learning about Vegetarian Diets

Vegetarian Diets

When you look at vegetarian diets, it's hard to do so without understanding that many of the practitioners believe that it is not only healthful, but more to practice vegetarianism. This is true even if the diet may include occasi...

onal meats or fish as in the Macrobiotic diet with it's Zen beliefs, or the Indian Ayurvedic diet, which finds milk and dairy central to good health along with plants. Anyone considering a vegetarian diet should learn about the food values of different vegetables, and consider getting advice on whether or not to supplement the diet with vitamins and minerals, particularly if you have special nutritional needs like growing children or pregnant or lactating women.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.