A well-balanced vegan diet is known for it’s
beneficial effects on your health. However, a common mistake people make when
they go vegan is that they assume that they will become healthier just because they eat
vegan foods. To be fair, vegan foods are in general healthier
than regular foods. Though, sometimes the term healthy is misused,
because not all healthy foods are nutrient-rich. For example, some people claim they can live
on 10 bananas every day, but this is not healthy; they’re missing out on a lot of nutrients
. I’m sure you may have heard of some people who live perfectly fine on a banana only diet
and prove my example wrong. But hopefully you can reason well enough that
these are exceptions to the rule and should definitely not be used as example on how to
live on a well-balanced vegan diet. So there are 7 critical nutrients you need
when you’re on a plant-based diet. We’ll go over each one of them, so you will
have a clear idea on how to get them through your diet! The first nutrient is Iron. One of the main roles of iron is to help our
red blood cells transport oxygen to all parts of the body. Iron deficiency anemia affects about 25% of
the world’s population, and these are people who have restricted access to a balanced diet. So if you have a diet that is rich in whole
grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, iron-fortified cereal products and green leafy
vegetables; then you’re good to go for your iron-intake. In fact about 80-90% of the iron intake comes
from plant sources. with the remainder being heme iron. Different studies have reported that the intake
of heme iron increases the risk of heart diseases and diabetes. So consuming nonheme iron from a plant-based
diet may be the better option because they convey protective qualities. The second nutrient is calcium. More than 99% of the total body calcium resides
in your teeth and bones. So essentially, it’s a mineral that is necessary
for life. In addition to building bones and keeping
them healthy, calcium enables our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat. Every day, we lose calcium through our skin,
nails, hair, sweat, urine and feces. Our bodies cannot produce its own calcium. That’s why it’s important to get enough
calcium from the food we eat. When we don’t get the calcium our body needs,
it is taken from our bones. This is fine once in a while, but if it happens
too often, bones get weak and easier to break. So as a vegan; you want to get your calcium
from high absorption foods such as; soy products, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, and collard green. Foods that you can also get your calcium from
but have a lower absorption rate are; spinach, almonds, tahini and beans. The next one is vitamin D. In addition to
its importance in the maintenance of bone health, vitamin D plays an important role
in immune function, reducing inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases. Sunlight exposure is in many cases not sufficient
to meet the nutrition needs of many people. For an sufficient vitamin D intake, it’s
recommended to consume on a regular basis fortified plant-based beverages which are
made of, soy, coconut, or rice), fortified orange juice, fortified soy yoghurt and ready-to-eat
breakfast cereal . The next nutrient is zinc. Zinc plays an important role in cell division,
cell growth, and it’s needed for the senses of smell and taste. It’s also needed for the body’s immune system
to properly work. Iron-rich plant foods are often good sources
of zinc, including whole-green cereals, nuts and seeds, legumes, soy products and fortified
breakfast cereals. There is some evidence that plant foods contain
certain antioxidants that inhibit the absorption of zinc. However, when you get your zinc from a variety
of foods in different ways then you have nothing to worry about. The fifth one is protein. Protein is an important building block of
bones, muscles, skin, and blood. Contrary to popular opinion vegan diets typically
meet or exceed recommended protein intakes when energy intakes are adequate. The best sources of plant protein include
legumes, soy foods, nuts and seeds and whole grains. Furthermore, plant foods rich in proteins
are good sources of iron, zinc and dietary fiber. Examined over a 24hour period, a vegan diet
that contains a variety of plant foods easily meets the ideal intake of protein. Up next are the omega 3 fatty acids. They are a critical part of cell membranes
throughout the body. For example, they provide the starting point
for making hormones that regulate the contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and also influence
cells that regulate genetic function. Furthermore, they also help with your brain
development and help protect against cognitive decline. You can get all the essential fats you need
from flaxseeds, walnuts, chia, the oils made from these seeds and nuts, canola, soy oils,
some fortified breakfast foods and seaweeds. And finally, the last but definitely not the
least: vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient . I created a video
that’s completely dedicated to Vitamin B12, so you can check that one out if you’re
interested in more detailed information about this nutrient. With that said, It’s recommended by various
health organizations to take B12 supplements if you don’t get enough of the vitamin through
your food. So in sum up; living on a well-balanced vegan
diet won’t make you weak and miserable. Quite the opposite; it will make you feel
great and healthy. Incorporate these nutrients in your diet,
eat a variety of plant-based foods and look up whether you are still adhering to the recommended
guidelines every once in a while, because they get updated all the time. And before you know it; you will start to
experience the magic of a plant-based diet.