Living a plant-based diet and lifestyle has many benefits, including major benefits for your health!
Plants have essential nutrients that you cannot get from other foods that keep you healthy and your body in balance so you can keep your immune system strong. In addition, plant-based diets can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce inflammation, and keep your heart healthy.
There are many adaptations of plant-based diets, but the 3 main ones are vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian. Let’s quickly break down these interpretations.
- Vegetarian diets exclude meat, fish, and poultry but includes eggs and dairy products.
- Vegan diets exclude meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and any foods that may contain these products.
- Flexitarian diets are just that! Flexible! Some people simply try to cut down on their animal product intake, so flexitarians eat mostly plant-based foods but with animal products occasionally.
Plant Based Diet? Are you missing vitamins?
Whichever interpretation you may be following, plant-based diets can have some challenges when it comes to food sources and the different nutrients. But don’t worry, there’s a solution for any gaps you might be having!
5 Essential Vitamins You’re Missing with a Plant-Based Diet
Iron is the most common nutritional deficiency and not just for plant-based diets! Iron is necessary to produce hemoglobin, which is an important protein found in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen throughout your body.
Some common signs of an iron deficiency are unusually tired, pale skin, shortness of breath, headaches and even dizziness. The good thing is iron can be found in many plant sources such as chickpeas, tofu, cashews, chia seeds, hemp seeds, kale, beans, lentils and more!
Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin your body needs to support normal immune function and energy. While this vitamin is necessary, your body can’t produce on its own. It’s commonly found in animal products such as dairy, meat and eggs so, switching to a full plant-based diet leaves you missing out on this powerful vitamin.
One of the best ways to supplement a Vitamin B12 deficiency is by adding nutritional yeast to your food, some plant-based milks, or even a supplement.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
To support brain health and heart health, you need a dose of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. There are 3 main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- EPA which is great in supporting cardiovascular function, joint health, mood state, and inflammatory response.
- DHA which provides the ultimate joint and cardiovascular support as well as support brain function, eye health, nervous system activity, skin health, and immune system function.
- SDA which is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid that when consumed in SDA-rich foods converts directly to EPA to provide joint, cardiovascular, cognitive, and immune benefits.
Most omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish or fish-derived products but luckily there’s a better choice out there for plant-based lifestyles. To learn more about omega-3s, read our Omega 101 Guide and check out our blog post on why vegan omega-3 supplements are better than fish oil.
To put it simply, zinc helps support your immune system and similar to the other deficiencies for plant-based diets, zinc is mostly found in animal products such as oysters, meat, and poultry. However, there are some great vegetables you could add to your diet that contain zinc as well such as mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, kale, and garlic.
While adding these nutrient rich vegetables to your diet does help, they don’t exactly provide the full amount of zinc you need per day so consider combining it with a supplement.
Vitamin D helps build strong bones and teeth as well as support the immune system. Getting the recommended amount of Vitamin D might be a little easier for vegetarians and flexitarians with eggs, cheese, salmon, or tuna but if you’re vegan, we recommend trying shiitake mushrooms, orange juice, soy milk, or a supplement.
The easiest way to ensure you get the essential nutrients your plant-based diet might not provide is a daily supplement. Our ZenDEFENSE™ supplement helps fills in some missing nutritional gaps while keeping your immune system strong and our Vegan Omega-3 is an algae-derived alternative with 450mg of EPA and DHA for the powerful, fish-free omega-3 fatty acids you need.
If you have any questions or comments about plant-based diets and supplements to help, please feel free to tell us below. Or, you can reach out to us directly at (800) 940-1972 or via email at Support@ZenwiseHealth.com.