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5 nutritional warnings for vegans

By Kate G-IQS-Team |



Let’s make it clear from the get-go: We eat meat.

Sarah is a vocal proponent of and often voices her stance on .

Of course many don’t agree, and choose to go the vegan way. We totally get it! But, if you’re going to go meat free, how do you make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need?

Although a good vegan diet is chock-a-block full of veggies, there are some nutrients missing. We’ve covered how to be a sugar-free vegan but thought we’d reel in dietician and nutritionist, – who specialises in vegan and vegetarian nutrition – to help us get into the nitty gritty of certain nutrients that vegans need to get an extra boost of in their daily diet.

  1. Know your B12

Mark says “Dietary B12 intake is low in vegans, as it is naturally found in animal products”. Although small amounts of B12 can be synthesised by the bacteria in our gut, it seems that can be produced to reach daily requirements.

Get tested: Although B12 can be stored in the body for up to , B12 deficiency is seen in up to of vegans. As explains, 31 percent of vegans with B12 deficiency are going undetected due to current testing methods. Ask your doctor to check more of B12 status, such methylmalonic acid (MMA) and holotranscobalamin II (holo-TC).

Vegan sources: Because food sources of B12 are largely limited to animal products, The Australian National Guidelines vegans supplement with B12.

  1. Watch your Vitamin D

Vitamin D deficiency is taking the world by storm and vegans and meat eaters alike should be aware of their levels.
Get tested: Ask your doctor to test 25-hydroxy vitamin D as it provides the single best assessment of vitamin D status.

Vegan sources: Unless you’re eating an of wild mushrooms, food sources of Vitamin D are confined to animal products.

The good news: Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D. Make sure you get sun exposure each day, for , three times a week will boost your vitamin D stores. eating lots of good fat to encourage the conversion of sunlight into active vitamin D3. Is it gloomy in your part of the woods? Maybe consider supplementation.

  1. Get an injection of calcium

Vegans absorb less calcium. “Plant sources of minerals (including calcium) are often found bound to phytates and oxalates, reducing their absorption,” Mark explains.

Get tested: Make sure you get your doctor to test . This is a more accurate test as it measures the amount of stored calcium rather than the amount simply circulating in the blood.

Vegan : Eat a variety of green leafy veggies (collard and turnip greens are especially rich in calcium), sesame seeds, tahini and tempeh.

  1. Keep iron levels in check

Vegetarian sources of iron are in the form of non-haem iron, which is than animal sources of haem-iron. For this reason, the recommends vegans consume 80 per cent more iron than omnivores each day.

Get tested: To get a , it’s best to get iron tested along with haemoglobin, ferritin, B12 and total red blood cell count.

Rely on leafy greens for iron? “Spinach is high in oxalates, which reduce the amount of iron you are able to absorb. I encourage vegans to focus on a range of green veggies,” Mark says.

Vegan : Spirulina, a variety of dark green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, wholegrains (especially amaranth and quinoa) beans and legumes.

  1. Boost the zinc

With the elimination of meat and increased intake of legumes and whole-grains (which contain phytates), vegan’s absorption of zinc is . This means vegans have a 50 per cent higher zinc requirement each day.

Get tested: Blood tests indicating zinc status are . We recommend consulting a good nutritionist or naturopath to analyse your diet and symptoms.

Increase the absorption of zinc by soaking, sprouting or fermenting your grains, legumes and nuts and seeds.

Vegan : nuts, seeds (especially pumpkin seeds), tahini, wheat germ, beans and tempeh.

Mark recommends vegans get their bloods tested annually or as advised by your GP. We also advise vegans to regularly see a nutritionist or naturopath to help keep you on right on track.

Are you vegan? How do you make sure you’re covering your nutritional bases?

Please be respectful of other participants in the conversation. We'd love you to keep your comments respectful, friendly and relevant. Differences of opinion are welcome, but trolling and abuse of other commentators and the IQS editorial team is not and will result in blacklisting.

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