Nutrients that everyone needs

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B12

Because this vitamin is mainly found in meat, dairy products and eggs, vegans must get it from other sources such as supplements, fortified breakfast cereals and Marmite. Deficiency can lead to irreversible nervous system damage.

Vitamin D

Our skins make vitamin D when exposed to the sun's ultraviolet rays. But with desk-bound jobs, long winters and unpredictable weather, it is not always possible to get enough. Vitamin D is crucial for bone growth in children, and deficiency can result in rickets. Oily fish is one of the best dietary sources, but vegans can obtain it from fortified breakfast cereals and margarine. People living in Scotland may need to take greater care over vitamin D, as may people from cultures that require them to cover up.

Calcium

Found in dairy products, this is essential for strong bones. It is often lacking in a vegan diet unless taken as supplement.

Iron

Without sufficient iron, vegans and vegetarians can become anaemic. Deficiency can also delay growth in toddlers. Iron is commonly found in meat, but vegetarians can source iron from pulses and leafy green vegetables.

Calories

Although childhood obesity is an issue today, not enough calories can mean children don't grow properly. This can be a problem in high-fibre diets.

Protein

High-biological-value protein is found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. Low-biological-value protein is found in nuts, pulses and wholegrains. Separately, the latter don't contain all the essential amino acids, but do when combined correctly. Knowledge of which foods to mix together is therefore crucial.

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