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  • Aynsley Fisher

Go Plant-Based But Make Sure You Get Enough Of These Important Vitamins and Nutrients

Vegetarians live longer, healthier lives.

An estimated 70% of all diseases, including 1/3 of all cancers, are related to diet.

Benefits of a plant-based diet include a reduced risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers, chronic bronchitis, kidney stones, diverticulosis.

Vegetarians live longer, healthier lives. A plant-based diet is rich in phytochemical, also known as phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber, all of which help the body function optimally and slows down the aging process.

Vitamins and nutrients at risk in a vegetarian diet include protein, iron, calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.


Protein helps the body grow and repair itself and is critical for the immune system. To calculate your protein requirement, multiply your weight by .36. (Ex. 140 lbs x .36 = 51 grams of protein daily.) For weight loss, base your protein calculation on your desired weight.

Vegetarian protein sources include legumes, soy foods, peas, spinach, artichokes, oats, quinoa, seeds, nuts. Consume grains and legumes together at the same meal for a complementary protein (together they contain all 9 of the essential amino acids our bodies need).


Iron is needed to prevent anemia, a condition characterized by lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, irritability, headaches, pale skin. Eating something with vitamin D at the same time will help non-heme, or plant-based, iron absorption. Non-heme iron sources include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, legumes, potatoes, spinach and enriched whole grains.


Iron is important for wound healing, immune function, and proper growth in children.

Zinc is found in grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and milk.


Calcium maintains strong, healthy bones and is essential to muscle contraction, nerve transmission and healthy blood pressure. Sources include fortified orange juice, nut milks, milk, broccoli, collards and kale.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. It’s important for bone health, may prevent cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disease and depression. Our bodies synthesize vitamin D from sunlight. Look for fortified foods in the winter or take a supplement.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 assists with DNA and RDA synthesis, necessary for proper nerve function. A deficiency can cause anemia and neurological problems. It’s only found naturally in animal products. Look for fortified products or supplements. It’s recommended that people over 50 take B12 supplements or injections since the body’s ability to absorb it declines with age.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are important because they promote heart and brain health. They are believed to improve mood and promote healthy skin. Look for fatty fish like salmon or plant sources (alpha linolenic acid) including walnuts, flaxseeds or soybeans.

“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

-ADA Position on Vegetarian Diets

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