Who Are Vegetarians?
Vegetarians do not consume animal products like meat, eggs, fish, or any animal byproducts. Vegans are vegetarians who do not use even products of animal origin e.g. dairy. Since vegetarians cut meat from their diet, they might face nutritional deficiencies if proper nutrition is not available through their diet. To meet any deficiency, nutritional supplements are required. Intake of supplements of vitamins and minerals in the diet help vegetarians and vegans. Depending on whether they eat both dairy products and eggs, only dairy products, or neither of the two, vegetarians are categorized into three types viz. lacto-ovo-vegetarians, lacto-vegetarians and vegans.
Why Do Vegetarians Need Nutritional Supplements?
Vegetarians need a balanced diet fulfilling all their nutritional requirements; otherwise, they may face nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional supplements need not be the only way to get essential nutrients. A healthy and balanced diet can achieve this. However, if the diet is inadequate, it may result in nutritional deficiencies. Nutritional supplements can reduce the risk of nutritional deficiencies. To compensate for the nutritional requirements generally met by animal products, vegetarians can take specific plant-based nutrients.
Sources of Nutrients in the Vegetarians’ Diet
Proteins: Animal products such as eggs and meats are good sources of protein. Since vegans do not consume them, they need to consume protein-rich plant foods in the diet. For instance, if the body weight is 150 pounds, vegetarians need to consume 2.5 ounces of protein in their daily diet. Beans, nuts, legumes, and soy are some good plant sources of proteins.
Vitamins: Vitamin B12 is available in foods like cereals, yogurt, and cheese. A daily intake of 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 is recommended. Daily vitamin B12 supplements include at least 10 micrograms of vitamin B12. Other vitamins like vitamin D and vitamin C are also essential for the body. Supplements of vitamin D that supply 1,000 international units are recommended.
Iodine: Dairy products are good sources of iodine. Iodized salt is the most reliable source of iodine. Iodine is also available as supplements. Iodine supplements providing 90 micrograms of iodine per day are beneficial. Many vegans also consume sea vegetables as sources of iodine.
Iron: Vegetarians can consume plant-based iron-rich foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, cereals, seeds, and raisins can be included in the diet as sources of iron. Consumption of orange juice can be very beneficial. Amino acid L-lysine supplements can boost the absorption of supplemental iron.
Calcium: Adults between 18 and 50 require 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day while persons older than 51 need 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily. Vegetarians are recommended to take at least four cups of cooked greens daily.
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