Nutrients A Vegetarian Should Worry About

by in Healthy Tips, October 17, 2011
fruit on plate
Do vegetarians get the nutrients they need?

The term “vegetarian” can pretty broad and can mean different things to different people. We’ll walk through the basic types and fill you in on which nutrients those with a meat-free diet need to pay special attention to.

Vegetarian Basics
There are different types of vegetarians depending on what someone chooses to include in their diet. But all vegetarians include plant foods from the following categories:

  • Grains such as rice, wheat, oats, and millet
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes which include beans, peas, lentils
  • Nuts
  • Seeds like sesame and sunflower

Different Types
In addition to the basic food groups listed above, certain vegetarians may decide to include other foods in their diet. Here are the 3 basic types:

  • Lacto-vegetarians include milk and dairy products.
  • Ovo-vegetarians include eggs.
  • Pesco-vegetarians include fish and seafood.

These categories aren’t exclusive and can overlap with one another. For example, if someone includes both dairy and eggs they’re considered a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. Any combination is possible and the names can kind of get crazy!

If someone only includes the plant foods listed above (and no dairy, seafood or eggs), they’re considered a vegan (sometimes referred to as a “complete vegetarian”) — but more on them in the upcoming weeks.

Nutrients of Concern
Many folks worry that vegetarians are unable to eat a balanced diet and meet their nutritional needs. That’s not necessarily the case. There are certain nutrients that are of special concern, but if you know which foods to eat, then you’re in good shape. Here are some nutrients that need special attention.

  • Calcium: If a vegetarian doesn’t include milk and dairy products in their diet, then they must be sure to get their calcium for alternate sources or think about taking a supplement (especially women who are at risk for osteoporosis).  Dark leafy greens, fortified juices, almonds, fortified milk alternatives and sardines with soft bones are all sources of the mineral.
  • Vitamin D: This vitamin isn’t found in many foods and that’s why it’s fortified in milk. It makes sense to add it to milk since it works with calcium to keep bones healthy. Other food sources of vitamin D include fish liver oils and egg yolks, both of which aren’t on every vegetarian’s list of allowable foods. Luckily, you can also get your daily dose of vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. Supplements are sometimes prescribed by doctors if they feel the person may isn’t getting enough.
  • Iron: Although iron-deficiency anemia is the most common deficiencies in the U.S. (actually in the world), vegetarians don’t have a higher incidence of iron-deficiency as compared to the rest of the population. Vegetarians who do eat eggs and fish have a better source of iron, but iron can also be found in plant foods like fortified oatmeal, tofu, spinach, and beans.
  • Zinc: This mineral is found in large amounts in foods like shellfish (like oysters), meat and poultry. Vegetarians who don’t eat shellfish should be sure to take in enough plant sources including beans, peas, lentils, whole grains, nuts and fortified cereals.

TELL US: Do you follow a vegetarian diet?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

You Might Also Like:

More posts from .

Similar Posts

10 Health Foods We’re All Saying the Wrong Way (Kefir, Anyone?)

It’s a cruel fact: Many of the foods that are potentially good for us also have names seemingly designed to trip us up. Who among us did not hav...

Comments (613)

  1. Apokries says:

    Woman of Alien…

    Fantastic perform you have got done, this great site is really interesting with wonderful information and facts. Time is God’s means of holding every thing from happening at the same time….

  2. Woman of Alien…

    Fantastic work you have finished, this great site is absolutely interesting with excellent data. Time is God’s method of maintaining everything from happening directly….

  3. The Birch of the Shadow…

    I think there may perhaps be considered a few duplicates, but an exceedingly helpful record! I’ve tweeted this. Several thanks for sharing!…

  4. The Slave of the Husband…

    Seeking in advance to finding out more from you afterward!……

  5. Third Flower…

    My spouse and i are already now delighted that Albert could carry out his scientific studies thanks to the ideas he had via your website. It really is once in a while perplexing to just normally be making a gift of actions which a lot of people could h…

  6. The Silent Shard…

    This will in all probability be pretty practical for some of your employment I decide to don’t only with my website but…

  7. read more says:

    Just Browsing…

    While I was browsing yesterday I saw a excellent article about…

  8. Woman of Alien…

    Great function you might have done, this website is admittedly interesting with excellent data. Time is God’s way of preserving everything from happening simultaneously….

  9. The Slave of the Husband…

    Seeking ahead to researching further from you afterward!……

  10. Another Day – Some More Tips…

    [...]This Also Relates[...]……

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>