With more and more people turning to a plant-based diet, it is key to note that excluding food groups can lead to health problems due to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
A vegan diet has many health benefits as it is low in saturated fats and sugar as well as being rich in antioxidants, but we want to flag the nutrients that you need to ensure you are as be as kind to yourself as the environment by making the switch.
Calcium is key if you want to keep your bones, teeth and nervous system strong. While you can’t carry on with regular dairy products, you can get your calcium fix from fortified bread and cereals as well as kale, greens, dried figs, chia seeds and almonds. Blend up a smoothie and you will be calcium strong all day long.
We all need iron as it carries the red blood cells that move oxygen around our bodies and if we don’t get enough, we can feel sluggish and tired. Chickpeas, tofu, chia seeds, lentils, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, dried apricots, figs and quinoa are great sources of iron for all of us and they are brilliant at packing out vegan meals and make them taste good, too. It’s also worth noting that vitamin C can help with the absorption of iron so eating broccoli, oranges, red peppers, berries and grapefruit with the foods above, will take you from feeling good to feeling great.
Omega-3 fatty acids
You might not know this, and why should you, but omega-3 and 6 fatty acids aren’t produced by our bodies, so we need to get them from our diet. If you are vegan, then going for linseed, pumpkin and sunflower seeds is a good idea and they are easy to use in lots of ways, while soya spreads, vegetable oil and walnuts also pack a fatty acid punch.
There are no two ways about it – we need protein for the repair and growth of muscles and bones, and it is pretty good at whizzing oxygen around our bodies too. The good news is that protein is found in non-dairy milk, cheese and yoghurt as well as in tofu, lentils, nuts, nut butters, pulses and some veggies. You ideally need to have protein with every meal but given the choice and versatility, we don’t think this will be much of a problem.
Selenium helps maintain healthy hair, nails and skin and it’s pretty nifty when it comes to looking after male fertility. Onions, tomatoes, broccoli, garlic and brown rice are all full of it, and Brazil nuts have a high selenium content with just two a day giving you the goodness you need.
Fighting tiredness, keeping our nervous system and blood cells healthy are just some of the benefits of vitamin B12 but it is usually found in meat, fish and dairy products, so vegans need to find alternatives to gain this vital vitamin. Vegan-friendly milks, spreads, yeast extracts and fortified breakfast cereals come packed with B12 so try to include them each day, but if you can’t, then it is worth taking a vitamin B12 supplement and stocking up that way.
Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, but in the UK it can be difficult to get as much as we need and even more so in the winter. To deal with this, a vegan-friendly supplement may be the answer and be sure to read the ingredients so you buy something free from animal sources.
Zinc, what is this beauty good for? Well, it helps with muscle growth and repair and keeps our skin looking and feeling good. Goods ways to get zinc are from cashews, almonds, walnuts, chickpeas, beans, and pumpkin seeds, so buy in bulk and add to soups, stews and smoothies or eat as snacks on the go.
We hope this makes life as a healthy vegan easier, but if you need more help your GP or local health food shop will be able to help you make the best choices you can.
Team Pure Beauty