Vitamin B12: Chances are that if you aren’t having non-vegetarian food and also not eating a well-balanced diet, you may see your vitamin B12 levels dipping. However, our gut health has a lot to do with vitamin B12 levels. “Our gut releases a co-factor that’s necessary for B12 conversion. If our gut health is messed–up, then it could lead to low vitamin B12 levels too. For B12, one needs to take supplementation or fermented food or foods made with the vitamin (like nutritional yeast, or some plant milk),” says holistic and lifestyle coach, Luke Coutinho.
Protein: Not eating any meat, egg, dairy and also skipping on vegan options like pulses, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds can lead to protein deficiency. Hence, it’s important to plan a balanced vegan diet and also focus on digestive health because it takes the right amount of digestive enzymes and juices to digest and absorb protein.
“Top off meals with lemon juice as vitamin C boosts iron absorption,” says Kavita Devgan.
Iron: Non-vegetarian food is rich in iron and is generally absorbed better than a plant-based source. However, if you choose to go vegan, make sure you focus on iron-rich foods in your diet. Low iron levels can lead to anaemia, leaving you feeling weak, fatigued and tired all the time. In some cases, even supplementation is required, especially for pregnant women or lactating mothers. Include moringa, spinach, carrot, beets, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds into your meals. “Top off meals with lemon juice as vitamin C boosts iron absorption,” says nutritionist Kavita Devgan.
Omega 3 (DHA & EPA): Eggs and fish are some of the best sources of omega 3 which is necessary for brain and heart health. “If vegans are skipping that and also not having adequate nuts, seeds and cold-pressed oils in their diet, they are bound to fall short of this essential nutrient,” says Coutinho.
Creatine: It helps increase muscle mass and endurance. Our body makes a small amount of creatine each day but to meet the rest of its creatine needs, it relies on dietary sources, namely meat. So, for vegans, creatine supplements may be necessary.
Carnosine: This amino acid helps prevent a range of diseases like diabetes, cataracts, Alzheimers and Parkinson. “Carnosine can be formed in the body from the amino acids histidine and beta-alanine. Apples, corn, mushrooms and bananas are rich in histidine,” says Devgan.
Zinc: Have loads of beans, legumes, and whole grains. But as phytic acid found in these foods can hinder zinc absorption, so always soak or sprout them before cooking to reduce the phytic acid content.