Vitamin Concerns For Vegetarians and Vegans

Vegetarian Vitamins

A common misconception is that vegetarian vitamins, that is the vitamin intake of a vegetarian, is deficient in some ways and therefore somehow unhealthy. However, the fact is that there are only two vitamins, B12 and D, that do not naturally occur in plant-based sources (but can be easy supplemented.) With the exception of these, eating a healthy and varied diet should supply every vitamin that a human requires. If you are eating a non-vegan diet that includes dairy and/or eggs, then you will most likely not have to worry about any of these.

Calcium is essential for overall bone health as well as reducing the risk for osteoporosis. This vitamin is usually associated with milk and other dairy products, and has been a common selling point for the dairy industry for years. If you have decided to eliminate dairy from your diet, do not fret, there are other sources of calcium outside of animal sources.
Here are just a few of the abundant selection of plant-based calcium sources

Broccoli

Leafy greens(spinach, collard greens, kale, lettuce…all packed with many essential vegetarian vitamins)

Tofu

Nuts

Seeds

Dried Fruit

Calcium-fortified orange juice

Iron is required in the circulatory system, which provides oxygen to the bodies organs. Iron deficiency can result in anaemia. Iron is in a form which is somewhat easier to absorb when it is found in animal sources (and is therefore commonly associated with meat), however an adequate intake from strictly plant foods is easily achieved. Here are some sources of iron:

Legumes

Whole Grains

Leafy Greens

Broccoli

Peas

Nuts

Seeds

Potatoes

Vitamin D is not naturally occurring in plant foods, but it is synthesized by your body during exposure to sunlight. Unfortunately for individuals with darker skin, such as myself, this process would take a significant amount of daily exposure to the sun. To be on the safe side, find a good multivitamin (check ingredients and vitamin content), or find foods that are fortified with vitamin D (such as soy milk, orange juice, or certain cereals).

Vitamin B12This is the vitamin that you must supplement if you are not eating any foods from animal sources. Find a good multi-vitamin that includes B12 and take it daily. Technically, your body needs very little of this vitamin, and in some cases it can be stored in your body for years…nevertheless you do not want to risk vitamin deficiency.