VEGANUARY NUTRITION - a guide to being plant based

Vegan nutrition can feel like a minefield at times - you’ll read one article telling you it’s easy to be fully nourished as a plant based eater, but another will tell you it just isn’t possible.


My hope is that this article will help you identify the key nutrients you may lack on a vegan diet and teach you how to get them - it requires a little more careful planning than I think many of us realise.


Mainly it is about understanding that plant based nutrition is not just about taking something out, it’s ALSO about what you ADD in.


(P.s For a more interactive/colourful version of this text see THIS instagram post.)

PROTEIN


+ Crucial part of everything cell in our body; often described as the ‘building blocks’ that help us repair and build tissues, and make hormones and enzymes.

+ Daily recommended amount is 0.75/ kg of body weight, a figure that increases to 1.2-2.2g/kg is you have goals to build muscle/strength.

+ 100% possible to get enough protein on a vegan diet, but as not all sources of plant protein contain all the amino acids we need (in the way that animal protein does), it is important to get a variety.

Protein rich sources include: tofu, tempeh, chickpeas, lentils, beans, vegan protein powder, pea based meats, quorn, soy+pea milks, quinoa, nuts and seeds

ZINC


Essential trace element that…

+ Supports immune system

+ Assists wound healing

+ Supports hormone production and fertility

+ Supports formation of proteins


Sources include: soy based products, fortified cereals, nuts, seeds, beans



IRON

What? Needed to make Haemoglobin - a protein that transports oxygen in the blood


How is plant iron different?

Plant iron is ‘non-heme’ iron, meaning it needed to undergo a chemical change before being absorbed.


Increasing absorption: consume vitamin C (e.g. lemon juice/ bell peppers…) along side iron-rich plant food - this converts the iron into a more bioavailable source


Sources: beans, lentils, left greens, fortified cereals/bread, nits and seeds, dried fruit

CALCIUM

What do we need it for?

+ Bone and teeth formation

+ Nervous system

+ Blood clotting

+ Muscle contraction


Sources include: fortified plant milk, nuts and seeds, soy products, leafy green



IODINE


Iodine is crucial for the formation of thyroid hormones, which are important for a healthy metabolism and growth.


Most sources of iodine come from animal products, but plant based iodine include:

+ Fortified products (milks/bread)

+ Iodised salt

+ Seaweed

+ But supplementation is usually considered best long term.

B12

B12 is important for:

+ production of red blood cells

+ functioning + development of brain and nerve cells


We cannot get enough from plant food alone + so supplementation is best:

1.Fortified products, like milks and cereals (about 3x servings a day)

2.Ask your doctor/pharmacist about a supplement

OMEGA 3

The Omega 3 fatty acids include:

DHA, EPA and ALA.

DHA + EPA are found in oily fish.

ALA is found in plant foods which can be used by the body to make EPA + DHA.


However the amount produced from this conversion would not be the same as direct consumption through the diet + so some people choose to supplement.


Plant based sources include:

+ flax seeds

+ chia seeds

+ hemp seeds

+ walnuts

+ linseed oil

SELENIUM


What?

An essential vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to help prevent cell damage + support immune system.

Where?

Usually found in animal based products.

Plant based sources can differ depending on the soil the plant is grown in.


So…

1-2 Brazil nuts a day provide enough to meet our daily requirement.

VITAMIN D


Most of our Vitamin D is made by the skin through sunlight. BUT this means it can be hard to get enough during winter from sun alone.

Plant sources include: fortified milks and cereals, mushrooms left in sunlight for a few hours before consumption.





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