Vegetarianism and veganism in the US are on the rise. In fact, throughout the world, more and more people are switching to the plant-based diets, and the trend doesn’t show signs of slowing down any time soon. With tons of health benefits of vegetarian and vegan based diets, is easy to see why the latest food trend is becoming so popular.
However, if you’ve only recently started a vegetarian diet or vegan diet that you might be surprised to know that without some proper planning, you may not be getting the proper nutrition your body needs. Here’s what you need to know.
Vegan and Vegetarian Nutritional Deficiencies
So, the question is, what exactly are these nutrients you may be missing out on, and what happens to your body if you don’t get the right amount? Well, here’s a look at some of the most important nutrients you may be missing out on if you adhere to a strict, plant-based diet.
Vitamin B12 doesn’t last long in the human body, so it’s a nutrient that is important to get daily. The average recommendation for the average adult is roughly 2.4 mcg (micrograms) per day. Without enough vitamin B12 in your daily diet, you could start to experience symptoms that include shortness of breath, memory loss, and fatigue.
The recommended dose of Zinc for adult males is 11 mg a day and 8 mg a day for the average adult woman. Zinc is a pivotal nutrient in the development of the human body, and if you have a deficiency you could experience a host of different symptoms. A deficiency can lead to impaired immune functions, diarrhea, impotence, lesions on the skin and eyes, and a stunt in growth.
The recommended dose of Iron varies wildly between adult men and women. The average adult man only needs roughly 8 mg of a day, while an adult woman needs to get nearly 18 mg per day, and upwards of 27 mg a day if they’re pregnant.
This is the main building block of hemoglobin, and without it, the body is not able to produce enough red blood cells. Without enough red blood cells, the body can’t move enough oxygen around, resulting in loss of energy, hair loss, bags under the eyes, iron-anemia, and many more problems. It’s especially important that pregnant women get enough iron because without it they may experience developmental problems in their unborn children.
Protein is one of the most important nutrients to the human body and one that is hardest to get through a plant-based diet. It is responsible for the development of muscle and the average adult should try to eat .36 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.
If the body doesn’t get enough protein then it will start to break down its own muscle and hair to get it. That makes a lack of protein a very serious problem, especially for someone on a vegetarian diet or vegan diet who isn’t eating meat, the number one source of protein in the average person’s diet.
How to Supplement Your Plant-Based Diet Plans
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to easily get all of the nutrients your body needs with just a little bit of planning. In fact, if done correctly a vegan or vegetarian diet can be just as healthy, if not more so, as ones that make meat and dairy products a regular addition to meals.
Tons of companies make individual supplements for Vitamin B12, Zinc, and Iron that you can make an addition to your plant-based diet if you’re not getting enough of any single nutrient. However, most once-daily, multi-vitamins also include all of these nutrients that you can use to supplement your nutrient intake. If supplements aren’t exactly your thing, most cereals on the market also artificially add these nutrients. If you make a bran or corn-based cereal to your regular diet, chances are you will get enough of all of these nutrients.
That just leaves protein, which is just as easy to make a part of your diet. While the most popular protein powders generally use whey from animal sources, there are plenty of protein powders on the market that are made from soy.
Nuts, beans, and legumes are also packed with protein. Make these part of every meal as well as something to snack on throughout the day and you will easily get enough of the protein you need every day.