Important nutrients for plant-based diets!
Many people are talking about switching to a plant-based diet and if you have, you may have felt the initial surge of energy and vitality. But if you later you start to get some symptoms such as hair loss, brittle nails, hormone issues or fatigue - you may have some nutritional deficiencies.
The top iron sources for a plant-based diet include lentils, chickpeas, hemp seeds, and non-GMO tofu and tempeh, alongside other vegan sources of protein. Vitamin C helps the absorption of Iron, so drink some orange juice or take Vitamin C supplements when eating these iron-rich foods.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is so important for our overall health because it aids in metabolism (the breaking down process) within every single cell in the human body. Unfortunately, plant-based sources of Vitamin B12 are difficult to find. Organic eggs are a great source or nutritional yeast is a great vegan option to get some Vitamin B12 into your system. Supplements are always a great option too.
Omega 3 oils/fats
We need omega-3s to balance out the omega-3 to omega-6/9ratio. Although fish is a wonderful source of omega-3 (S.M.A.S.H. Fish according to Dr Mark Hyman best - Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, Salmon & Herring), it’s actually thought that this is due to the foods the fish are eating; algae. Another great plant-based source is flaxseed or linseed, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
Calcium is vital for strong bones. Instead of dairy, try almonds, oats, organic non-GMO tofu (check on the label that it's set with calcium chloride or calcium sulfate), and spring greens. It’s also important to note that although spinach contains calcium, it's mostly bound to a compound called oxalate, which limits absorption, and you would have to consume a lot of it to meet the RDI.
This mineral is crucial for thyroid function, which in turn regulates hormones throughout the body, and it’s found in sea vegetables such as seaweed (nori) and sea lettuce. Some cereals and grains can be a source of iodine, the levels vary depending on the amount of iodine in the soil where the plants were grown.
Not only is selenium needed for metabolism and thyroid function, but it also plays a role in protecting the body from damage caused by oxidative stress. The top plant-based source of selenium is brazil nuts, with just one nut containing twice the RDI for this mineral. Non-plant-based sources include organ meat (liver pate is a good start), sardines, and oysters.
Zinc is most commonly used as a form of sun protection for long days at the beach, our bodies need it internally too. This essential mineral supports the immune system to function properly as well as playing a role in breaking down carbohydrates, but typically sources of zinc have included oysters and lean meat. For the top plant-based sources, look to legumes like chickpeas and lentils (sprouted if possible) and seeds like pumpkin seeds to meet your daily needs.